Toronto Maple Leafs Should Not Use Ilya Mikheyev on 2nd Line

Ilya Mikheyev, Toronto Maple Leafs (Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports)
Ilya Mikheyev, Toronto Maple Leafs (Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs should not be giving Ilya Mikheyev an opportunity to play on the second line this season.

During the offseason, Ilya Mikheyev requested a trade because he wanted more playing time. Instead of initiating a deal, it looks like the Toronto Maple Leafs are giving him a chance to prove himself.

If you were a scout and watched only one of Mikheyev’s games, you’d instantly fall in love with him. He’s fast, hard-working and seems to get a breakaway every single night. However, that’s one of the issues. He gets so many scoring opportunities, but he can’t actually score.

I can understand going on a cold-streak, but when it seems to be happening every game, it doesn’t feel like he’s all of a sudden going to start scoring on those breakaways.

Toronto Maple Leafs and Ilya Mikheyev

This isn’t the first time that we’ve seen Mikheyev play alongside Tavares and Nylander. In fact, he was a staple on their line during the Columbus Blue Jackets play-in series and was a non-factor. I can remember that series fondly, because I bet on Mikheyev to score a goal in every single game and not only did he not score a goal, he didn’t even register a point.

In 12 post-season games, Mikheyev has zero goals and zero points. He hasn’t done anything offensively and doesn’t deserve more ice-time. Instead, he should be an energy-type forward, who stays on the third or fourth line and plays the penalty kill.

Toronto may be “weak” at the left-wing position, but they have way better options than Mikheyev on the second line.

For example, Michael Bunting and Nick Robertson are two way better options. The two many only have a combined 27 games of NHL experience under their belt, but they can be much more effective offensively than Mikheyev.

Instead of shipping him out when he asked to be moved, the Leafs kept him, which obviously shows that they think he has more to offer.  The fact is, however, that they have several better offensive options and should not be trying to accommodate a player who doesn’t want to be here.

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After requesting a trade this offseason, why waste your time and energy on a guy who isn’t committed to the team? Ship his $1.65M contract out the door an give his spot to a player who is better, makes less money and deserves it.