Canucks Make $9.5 Million Forward Available For Trade: Report

Ilya Mikheyev of the Vancouver Canucks could be traded.

Getty Ilya Mikheyev of the Vancouver Canucks could be traded.

The Vancouver Canucks “have been working” on a trade of forward Ilya Mikheyev ahead of the 2024 NHL draft and the offseason, according to Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli.

Seravalli included the left wing in the June 14 update of his “Trade Targets Board” over Daily Faceoff, ranking him at the No. 6 slot and indicating “The Canucks attempted to move Mikheyev at the trade deadline.” That didn’t work, but the franchise is back at it with its season already over.

“The Canucks have been working to move Mikheyev since shortly after their playoff run concluded. They also offered him to teams around the trade deadline,” Seravalli wrote. “After a tough playoff, Mikheyev’s contract is gumming up the works on Vancouver’s offseason. They can’t more aggressively pursue multiple pending free agents (Nikita Zadorov, Elias Lindholm, Filip Hronek) until they can get a clearer view of their cap picture.”

Mikheyev has two years left on his contract amounting to $9.5 million. He carries an annual $4.75 million cap hit. That could force Vancouver to add some “sweeteners” in a trade (such as a mid-to-late draft pick) to get rid of Mikheyev.

Mikheyev’s Performance and Injury Struggles

The Toronto Maple Leafs signed then-undrafted free agent Mikheyev to an entry-level contract in May 2019 with the forward coming from Russia. The Canucks signed him in July 2022.

Mikheyev’s first season in Vancouver was marred by an ACL injury he suffered during the preseason, leading to surgery in February 2023. He missed the start of the 2023-24 season.

He scored 11 goals and provided 20 assists for 31 points during the 2024 regular season but the forward failed to score a single point in 11 playoff games.

The low production combined with the hefty contract makes Seravalli think the Canucks will need to do something in favor of whoever trades for their forward.

“Teams are asking the Canucks to attach an asset to Mikheyev to move him, something they are balking at – saying that it takes a full year to recover from ACL repair, and Mikheyev should be much better next season,” Seravalli reported.

Mikheyev’s previous career-best was 32 points in 53 games with Toronto in the 2021-22 season, which earned him his current four-year, $19 million contract from the Canucks.

That said, Mikheyev is coming off playing the most games in any season of his NHL career with 78 appearances in the 2023-24 regular season to go with 11 more games in the postseason.

Free Agent Challenges for Canucks Could Foster Trade

The Canucks face a challenging offseason with several top-tier pending free agents, including forwards Elias Lindholm and Dakota Joshua and defensemen Nikita Zadorov and Filip Hronek.

Clearing Mikheyev’s $4.75 million cap hit would provide much-needed flexibility to re-sign some of these players or target other free agents.

Trading Mikheyev without attaching an additional asset is a priority for General Manager Patrick Allvin, but it will be a tall task for the GM.

As Seravalli pointed out, not many teams will be happy taking a $4.75 million salary, especially after Mikheyev’s underwhelming performance this season. Moreover, the Canucks can only add so many picks in a deal with just four picks in the 2024 draft and all outside the first two rounds.

Buying out Mikheyev’s contract could be another option. Per CapFriendly, that would result in a cap penalty ranging from $1.15 million to $2.15 million annually over the next four seasons.

PuckPedia projects the Canucks to enter the offseason with $25 million of cap space, although that figure only includes 14 players currently under contract and in Vancouver’s active roster.

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