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Behind Ilya Mikheyev’s last-minute RFA contract with Maple Leafs

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TORONTO – Fewer than 24 hours before Wednesday’s scheduled arbitration case, restricted free agent Ilya Mikheyev and the Toronto Maple Leafs found common ground Tuesday night — although it did mean a last-minute financial concession on the player’s part.

The Russian winger and the club agreed to a two-year contract worth an average annual value of $1.645 million that will see Mikheyev in blue and white through the 2021-22 season and walk him to unrestricted free agency at age 27.

“Ilya decided to step off a little bit from an already agreed number to help the team fit under the cap,” Mikheyev’s agent, Dan Milstein, told Sportsnet after tweeting news of the signing.

“For Ilya, it was less about the money, but more about the role in the organization. He wishes to win the Stanley Cup. It’s been a lifelong dream.”

Mikheyev’s two-year pact carries a $1.1 million salary in 2020-21 and $2.19 million in 2021-22.

According to Milstein, the sides had initially agreed to a cap hit slightly higher than $1.645 million.

The agent was on the phone explaining the bridge deal’s terms to Mikheyev when the Maple Leafs quickly called back requesting the forward take slightly less so they could be cap compliant for 2021’s opening night.

The Leafs and Mikheyev discussed the sophomore’s position in a winger-loaded roster “extensively” during the negotiations, which had been ongoing for weeks.

“We know what they have going. We know what the goals are. Toronto and both camps communicated very clearly,” Milstein said. “We feel very comfortable about the next season, and Ilya is very excited about the next season as well.”

The 26-year-old Mikheyev — fast a fan favourite — appeared in only 39 games as a rookie with the Maple Leafs in 2019-20, scoring eight goals and adding 15 assists.

Returning for post-season action after suffering a gruesome wrist injury in late December, Mikheyev failed to register a point during the club’s five-game playoff qualification series versus Columbus.

“He would’ve liked to help the team get past Columbus, but overall this was a good first-year experience for him,” Milstein said. “He’s adjusted. He’s adapted. And I expect him to have a better season next year.”

He elected to file for salary arbitration to buy time, and a deadline, for amicable negotiations.

Mikheyev filed for one year at $2.7 million; the Leafs requested two years at $1 million.

But, Milstein maintains, the strongest efforts on both sides have long been directed at striking a two-year pact that worked to provide Mikheyev and his family a little more certainty in uncertain times.

The player affectionately known as “Mickey” to his teammates and “Souperman” to fans stayed up to the wee hours in Russia, where he’s training, in order to sign the paperwork.

“The first season didn’t go as well as planned, due to the injury, but it was never a question of whether he was coming back or not,” Milstein said. “He stayed up through the night, and we took care of business.”

Milstein has a tight working relationship with general manager Kyle Dubas and the Maple Leafs.

The agent is quick to note that 12 of his players have been welcomed into the Toronto system over the past three years, including winger Egor Korshkov (currently on loan to Yaroslav Lokomotiv of the KHL), 2020 first-round pick Rodion Amirov and new KHL import Alexander Barabanov.

“While we were negotiating (Mikheyev’s contract) and perhaps disagreeing a little bit, I had to stop and talk to (the Leafs) about another player,” Milstein said. “We try to have good relationships with everybody, but a client comes first.”

Barabanov, 26, will join Mikheyev in trying to secure ice time from coach Sheldon Keefe in a competitive forward group that has added Wayne Simmonds, Joe Thornton, Jimmy Vesey, Joey Anderson and Travis Boyd to the mix since free agency opened.

Barabanov flew to Toronto in early September and is preparing for his first North American campaign on this side of the pond.

Make no mistake: Like Mikheyev before him, Barabanov has his sights in the NHL, not the AHL.

“I feel good about his prospects. He’s a world-class player,” Milstein said. “I’m not a coach. I’m not going to make any predictions. But I feel good about it. You can quote me on that. I feel good about it. Barabanov is an Olympic champion.

“He is a phenomenal player, and I expect him to do well here in North America.”

With Mikheyev signed, the Maple Leafs only need to reach agreements with RFAs Travis Dermott and Anderson.

Source:- Sportsnet.ca

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Canadiens @ Canucks Top Six Minutes: Toffoli’s hat trick earns a point – Habs Eyes on the Prize

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For our new readers and members, the Top Six Minutes is a continuation of the discussion in the game thread. We try to keep it light and entertaining. Full recaps are up the morning after every game.

First Period

  • I would love if the Habs won convincingly tonight, but I really fear that that won’t be the case.
  • Are they really trying to call Weber and Chiarot the twin towers? Maybe don’t?
  • Already on the penalty kill? Really? You couldn’t wait a minute?
  • Elias Pettersson is now guaranteed to score.
  • I’d be ok with a Suzuki short-handed goal. Make it happen, please.
  • That was an extremely high high-stick. But also maybe don’t let them do that again.
  • ….hold on… VAN was on the power play, but the only shots in the game belong to the Habs? Yes please.
  • That was a fun shift from the Gallagher crew.
  • Why do the hockey gods hate Artturi Lehkonen and Tyler Toffoli.
  • Please don’t do this again.
  • Apparently the Habs have decided that the NHL season is too easy so far, so they’ve decided to make it harder for themselves BY TAKING ENTIRELY TOO MANY PENALTIES.
  • And that’s why you really shouldn’t have taken a penalty.
  • Lol, whoops, skate malfunction.
  • Pretty sure Price didn’t even blink making that save.
  • Please go stay in the offensive zone for a while, Montreal.
  • One of these days Toffoli will actually hit the net, and it will be glorious.
  • Exactly no one is surprised that the probably-for-the-best crackdown on cross-checks in front of the net doesn’t apply to crosschecks on Brendan Gallagher.
  • Too many odd-man rushes against. Way too many odd-man rushes against.
  • *sigh*
  • Dang, Carey looks really good tonight.

Second Period

  • THERE IT IS. TOFFOLI WITH THE GOAL.
  • Not to be that person, but SHOOOOOOOOT.
  • Oh Jeff…
  • Wait….is that…a power play!?? Oh my goodness, it is!
  • Oh look. There are all the Toffoli goals! (Also, that Suzuki pass!!)
  • Also… THE HABS CAN ACTUAL SCORE ON THE POWER PLAY!
  • Oh geeze. Please go play on the other side of the rink.
  • The things that are and aren’t penalties in this game are perplexing.
  • siiiiiiigh
  • Oh Paul.
  • Montreal, please tidy things up. This is not gonna cut it.
  • Another post.
  • Shouldn’t that have been a Montreal penalty?
  • WAIT, NOT *THAT* THOUGH. WTF.
  • GALLY GOALS ARE THE BEST GOALS.
  • It is known.

Third Period

  • The plays Nick Suzuki sets up are just delightful. Eventually his teammates will start getting used to it, and he’s going to rack up a tremendous amount of assists.
  • Meanwhile, Habs, please go play in the offensive zone.
  • AGAIN? sigh
  • Habs. Habs stop this. At once.
  • You know that thing I said earlier about crosschecks and Gallagher? It’s relevant again.
  • Apparently pulling someone down by the face isn’t a penalty.
  • JESPERIIIIIIII.
  • That little kick to the stick, fake and shoot was just *chef’s kiss*.
  • You know that thing where usually eventually the calls start swinging back the other way? How about some of that.
  • Joel Armia is pretty good. Just saying.
  • The Habs definitely look like they have more in the tank than Vancouver right now. That whole rolling four good lines thing is already paying off.
  • How was that icing. Seriously.
  • TOFFOLI TIMEEEEEEE.
  • BRING ON THE (virtual) HATS!!!
  • MONTREAL WHAT ARE YOU DOING.
  • I just want to sleep.
  • Gallagher was SO close. I’m going to cry.

OT

  • Well, time for aaaaaall the heart attacks.
  • Suzuki in OT is pretty fun.
  • However, just because it’s fun doesn’t mean I want to keep having this happen.
  • Romanov is also very fun in OT.
  • THAT WAS LESS FUN.
  • Please not the shootout.
  • I hate shootouts.

Shootout

  • I hate shootouts BUT NICK SUZUKI DOESN’T.
  • They really are just gonna drag this shoot out as long as possible aren’t they.
  • I still hate this.
  • Habs lose 6-5 in the shootout.

EOTP 3 Stars

3. Gotta love a good rhyme

2. Those were the days

1. He certainly does!

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Hazel Mae, Ken Rosenthal, Jon Heyman, and more reported Michael Brantley to Toronto – Awful Announcing

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Baseball transactions have often seen some unexpected people breaking news, whether that’s wetbutt23 and KatyPerrysBootyHole or Brendon Kuhn and Joey Vendetta. But Wednesday provided a remarkable reversal there, with TV host Hazel Mae and multiple U.S. baseball insiders (including Ken Rosenthal of Fox and The Athletic and Jon Heyman of MLB Network) reporting that outfielder Michael Brantley was headed to the Toronto Blue Jays before the eventual confirmation that he was instead returning to the Houston Astros (where he played last year, as shown above). Here are those initial reports:

And here are some of the later corrections and rebuttals from those who didn’t initially report that:

As noted Tuesday, baseball is a sport where local sources can sometimes break national news before the national insiders get it. But in this case, the initial reports appear to have been premature. And that led to some awkward tweets Wednesday for those who reported that the Brantley deal was done in Toronto before the actual news of that deal being done in Houston emerged.

[Photo from Robert Hanashiro/USA Today Sports]

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Canucks earn cathartic win over Canadiens after roller-coaster affair – Sportsnet.ca

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VANCOUVER – It was a game screaming out for fans. And a game that would have had coaches screaming.

But Vancouver Canucks coach Travis Green’s mood at least would have been helped by his team’s 6-5 shootout win Wednesday against the Montreal Canadiens.

The Canucks’ home-opener at Rogers Arena, played in front of 18,000 seats kept empty by COVID, was a mistake-filled thrill ride whose surprise ending – a Vancouver win – was desperately needed by the team that had limped home after a 1-3 road trip to start its season.

Captain Bo Horvat scored twice on the power play, as the Canucks man-advantage unit finally put some pucks in the net after a 0-for-15 start, and then beat Montreal goalie Carey Price between the pads in the fourth round of the shootout.

Vancouver, wobbling on defence with veteran Alex Edler injured and other blue-liners struggling, appeared to be headed towards its fourth straight loss when former Canuck Tyler Toffoli – who else would it be? – completed his hat trick with a deflection to give the Canadiens their first lead with only 3:49 remaining in regulation time.

But after losing a one-goal advantage four times, the Canucks displayed some resilience by making it 5-5 just 32 seconds later when Brock Boeser wired a shot from the high slot after a setup by J.T. Miller.

“It was really important,” Horvat said of a victory that was like shelter during a January gale. “We needed that win. Obviously, for standings-wise, but also for confidence. It definitely feels good to get the two points, but at the same time I think we can be better.

“We can’t be satisfied with that. We’ve just got to keep building with that, keep our confidence and come ready to play tomorrow night.”

The Canadiens, now 2-0-2 and two points clear of the Canucks in the North Division, play in Vancouver on Thursday and again Saturday.

There were some glaring faults to the Canucks performance, especially in their half of the ice.

But it was vitally important for their struggling top players to break out. Boeser matched Horvat’s two goals, Miller had three assists and defenceman Quinn Hughes had two. And although Elias Pettersson failed to register a point for a fourth straight game – double his longest “slump” from last season – he was a key part of a power play that finished 3-for-6.

And, as Horvat said, there was a huge psychological lift for a team that for the first time under Green, appeared to be slipping backwards with its surprisingly poor start.

“It definitely feels good to get finally rewarded for it,” Horvat said of a power play that was fourth in the NHL last season and expects to be at least that good again. “It was just a matter of time before one went in. Thankfully, we got it off to a good start and we just kept building from there.

“Obviously, we can’t think that’s going to be good enough. We’ve got to hold ourselves to a high standard and do it again tomorrow night.”

The power play gave the Canucks their first of four leads, scoring at 11:07 of the first with quick passing that teed up Horvat in the slot, a play that would be repeated on Horvat’s other goal early in the third.

The power play and offensive outburst, plus some timely saves by Braden Holtby in overtime, were enough to overcome the Canucks’ defensive problems.

New first-pairing defenceman Nate Schmidt conceded last weekend in Calgary that the transition from playing in Vegas has been challenging, and Travis Hamonic hasn’t looked any more comfortable than Schmidt so far in Vancouver after spending the last three seasons with the Flames.

It didn’t help Wednesday that Edler nearly stopped playing in the second period before disappearing from the bench in the third, and that rookie Jalen Chatfield was making his NHL debut for the Canucks.

Even Hughes looked suspect medically, labouring at times while being constantly targeted by the Canadiens.

The lack of cohesiveness on defence was especially evident in the second period, when the Canucks blew the lead three times on goals that were far too easy for the Canadiens.

Hamonic wandered out of position to throw a hit after Hughes had been knocked over by Joel Armia, leaving the right half of the Vancouver zone open for Toffoli to walk in on a breakaway and pick his spot over Holtby’s catching hand to tie it 1-1 at 1:37 of the middle period.

A few shifts later, Schmidt gambled and lost on an intercept in the neutral zone, giving Jeff Petry a free pass to the net. But when the Canadiens defenceman zipped the puck wide, it caromed around the boards to Tyler Motte and gave the Canucks a two-on-one.

Motte looked to pass before fooling Price with a low shot through him to restore the Vancouver lead at 4:25.

But just 62 seconds later, with Schmidt and Hamonic now paired together, the Canadiens took advantage of more poor defending and Nick Suzuki set up Toffoli for a tap-in that capped a power-play three-on-one.

The Canucks power play made it 3-2 at 11:13 when Boeser collected a rebound from his skates and scored on a quick backhand.

And still Vancouver couldn’t get out of the period with the lead. With Chatfield looking to change and caught out of position and Schmidt’s check against behind him, Tomas Tatar lasered a goalmouth pass for Brendan Gallagher to tie it again, 3-3, at 18:25.

The Canucks were ahead, then tied and eventually behind before winning. Against the Montreal Canadiens. The crowd would have loved it, faults and all.

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