Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Can the Canucks (or his agent) trade Ilya Mikheyev?

The Vancouver Canucks need to clear some cap space but can they afford to sweeten the deal to trade Ilya Mikheyev?
With the Canucks needing to clear cap space, Ilya Mikheyev might be on his way out of Vancouver.

The Vancouver Canucks have a problem.

They have several significant needs in their lineup and a limited amount of cap space to fill those needs. If they want to go big-game hunting in free agency for someone like Jake Guentzel, that won’t leave a lot of room left to fill out the rest of the roster.

In particular, it would mean losing Nikita Zadorov. The big defenceman, by all accounts, wants to stay in Vancouver but this is also likely his last chance to truly cash in on his hockey career with a big contract after five straight one and two-year deals. After his playoff performance, he ought to have lots of suitors on the open market.

If the Canucks want to keep Zadorov and also splurge on a player like Guentzel in free agency, they need to clear some cap space. The biggest inefficiency on their roster right now is glaringly obvious: Ilya Mikheyev.

"The Canucks have been trying to move Mikheyev for quite some time"

The formerly fleet-of-foot winger has two years remaining with a $4,750,000 cap hit. That’s a contract befitting a second-line winger but Mikheyev has performed more like a third-liner despite getting prime minutes with talented linemates. He had just one goal in his final 61 games, including the playoffs, where he had no points.

If the Canucks could trade Mikheyev and get his contract off the books that would clear up a lot of issues. That’s easier said than done, of course, as other teams around the NHL are well aware of his scoring slump and declining play.

In addition, Mikheyev has a modified no-trade clause that allows him to name 12 teams to which he will not accept a trade. 

Perhaps that’s why general manager Patrik Allvin has reportedly looked for some help from Mikheyev’s agent, Dan Milstein.

“Milstein’s got permission from the Canucks to help facilitate a trade,” said CHEK TV’s Rick Dhaliwal on Thursday. “The Canucks have been trying to move Mikheyev for quite some time, not just the last two or three weeks. They tried at the trade deadline as well.”

This isn’t a new strategy for this front office. Near the end of 2022, Brock Boeser’s agent was granted permission to seek a trade. Just before the start of last season, Conor Garland switched agents and his new agent was likewise given permission to seek a trade. Neither were actually traded, much to the relief of last season’s Canucks, as they were two of the team’s best forwards. 

Can the Canucks avoid adding a sweetener?

In Mikheyev’s case, this may be a situation where Milstein can look to find a team willing to trade for Mikheyev that is on his no-trade list and perhaps convince Mikheyev to accept a deal to that team. 

The trouble is, any team willing to take on Mikheyev may want a sweetener as part of the deal.

Allvin hasn’t hesitated to make trades to clear cap space in the past. Before the 2022-23 season, Allvin traded Jason Dickinson and his $2,650,000 cap hit to the Chicago Blackhawks to clear a little space, spending a 2024 second-round pick in the process and getting Riley Stillman in return.

Ahead of this past season, he traded Tanner Pearson and his $3,250,000 cap hit to the Montreal Canadiens, sweetening the deal with a 2025 third-round pick and getting backup goaltender Casey DeSmith in return.

Then, during the season, Allvin moved Anthony Beauvillier and his $4,150,000 cap hit to the Blackhawks. This time, he didn’t include a sweetener, but only received a fifth-round pick in return. That cap space was immediately used two days later when he traded for Nikita Zadorov from the Calgary Flames.

The Canucks would clearly prefer a trade in the vein of Beauvillier, especially because they’re already running low on draft picks. They don’t have first or second-round picks in the upcoming draft and have already moved their third-round picks from the 2025 and 2026 drafts. A team with a middle-of-the-road prospect pool can’t keep losing draft picks to clear cap space.

A Beauvillier-like deal probably won’t happen for Mikheyev, however. Mikheyev’s game is heavily predicated on speed and while he was still above average this past season post-ACL surgery, it wasn’t the separating factor it once was.

Any team taking on Mikheyev will be gambling that his speed will return. Maybe it will with even more time to fully recover from his surgery, but he’s about to turn 30 — it might be more likely that his play will continue to decline than that he will bounce back. 

Can the Canucks afford to throw in a draft pick to get Mikheyev off the books? If they want to be a true Stanley Cup contender next season, can they afford not to?

If the Canucks truly believe they can win the Stanley Cup next season, they owe it to themselves and the fans to take whatever steps necessary to improve the team and not just run it back with the same squad. That might mean making a sacrifice to clear the cap space necessary to make a big move in free agency.