Islanders trading for pending RFA Ilya Mikheyev would be a good idea

Ilya Mikeyev #65 of the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Ilya Mikeyev #65 of the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

If Toronto Maple Leafs Ilya Mikheyev becomes available the New York Islanders should pounce.

The New York Islanders are in a tough position with the salary cap, but the Toronto Maple Leafs are in an even worse position. The Isles have $3.1 million in space while the Leafs are using over $13 million in LTIR space to make it work.

It’s going to be difficult for the Islanders to keep their pending free agents, but it’s going to be even more difficult for the Toronto Maple Leafs to keep some of theirs. Like pending RFA Ilya Mikheyev.

It’s possible the Leafs can’t keep him. If he becomes available, the Islanders need to pounce on him.

Shaking Loose

According to our colleagues at Editor in Leaf, Leaf fans shouldn’t expect the blue and white to sign the promising RFA to a contract extension for next season.

If you’ve never heard of Mikheyev let me just put his production this season into perspective.

In 39 games, Mikheyev has 23 points. That’s a 48 point pace over a full season. His 2.44 points at 5on5 per 60 are better than every single Leafs forward who’s played more than a handful of games including Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and John Tavares.

His Corsi-for and Fenwick-for are top five for the team. His shots-for, expected goals-for percentage, scoring chances-for, and high-danger chances for percentage are top ten for the Leafs.

(All stats from NaturalStatTrick)

He’s a good player coming to the end of a single-year ELC for the Leafs and they might not have space to sign him. With only 39 games on his NHL resume, his salary demands can’t be too high either. But they might just be high enough that the Leafs might not be able to afford him.

I know that the Islanders aren’t in an easy cap situation either. But if they can make one minor move it would be worth it to make the room for Mikheyev.

Two Moves

The Isles could shed one of Leo Komarov or Thomas Hickey and that might just be enough space. Komarov has a seven-team no-trade list, meaning he could be traded another 23 teams in the league. Hickey has no-trade protection.

Both are expendable for the Islanders. Leo is a bottom-six forward with some defensive upside but little offensive upside. Mikheyev has better defensive numbers than Komarov this season, specifically on the PK, and has considerable offensive upside.

For Hickey, the Islanders already have three lefties on the team. With Dobson as the seventh man, the Isles would be forced to keep him in the AHL. I’m sure Hickey wants NHL playing time, and could certainly find some on another team.

The next move for the Islanders is to trade for Mikheyev. I’m not sure what gets the deal done here. I’m tempted to say Michal Dal Colle and maybe the Islanders third in 2020.

I know that may not sound like even value and that’s why I said: “tempted”. But consider this: What is Mikheyev’s AAV going to be? I imagine it’s going to be somewhere around $2 million maybe $3 million?

As an RFA the Isles could sign him to an offer sheet. Any offer sheet with an AAV between $2.1 million and $4.2 million would return a second-round pick as compensation for the Leafs.

Does Michael Dal Colle and a third-round pick not equal a second-round pick? I think so. So to me, that seems like fair value.

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Maybe that doesn’t get it done. But it’s at the very least a starting point. I don’t typically like writing trade proposals because everyone values every piece of trade differently.

What I’m trying to show here is that the Leafs might have a valuable player available and the Islanders could make the moves to bring him in. And based on what Mikheyev has shown in his admittedly short stint in the NHL, the Islanders should absolutely target him.