Sports

Maple Leafs open to trading rights to pending UFA Ilya Mikheyev

It appears Ilya Mikheyev will not be returning to the Toronto Maple Leafs next season.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that the Maple Leafs have told other teams that the rights to the forward — who will become an unrestricted free agent on July 13 — are available to be traded to any team that wants to “jumpstart the process.”

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Mikheyev, 27, has spent the past three seasons with the Maple Leafs after beginning his career in the KHL. He is coming off a two-year, $3.29-million contract.

Last season he took a big jump offensively, scoring 21 goals and 32 points in 54 games after scoring only 15 goals combined in his first two seasons. He made fans with his speed on the wings both at even strength and on the penalty kill and has a chance to provide a boost of energy to another team looking for forward depth.

“He’s so fast and explosive. He gets a step on you, he’s gone,” Auston Matthews told Sportsnet’s Luke Fox in April. “When he comes down on you with that much speed, as a goalie it’s hard to anticipate what he’s gonna do.”

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