From requesting a trade to scoring 20 goals in a season, Ilya Mikheyev has become integral to the Maple Leafs offence and the Russian forward will have a major role to play if Toronto is to go deep in the NHL playoffs.
- Mark my words. Ilya Mikheyev will be a difference maker in the playoffs. I mean, you feel it too, right? But he definitely does invoke that energy that he's going to score like a huge goal. Or he has 20 goals, 20 goals since December 14, which is wild and probably not talked about enough, considering all the other goalscorers we have on the team. Mikheyev has gotten better and better and better as the season has progressed, and the style of play, the fact that he's fast, escapes well with the puck, is able-- is getting more confidence to actually hold on to the puck and do more with it.
I can literally see it now. I can envision a penalty kill or just a moment where the team is buzzing, getting a lot of pressure, or when they're getting hammered in their zone for a little bit, and Mikheyev just gets that one breakaway and scores. And I think it's just-- it's so fascinating to see the turnaround, because there is a time where Ilya Mikheyev requested a trade, he wanted out. He didn't like the-- he didn't like the ice time he was getting. He felt like he could do more. And not only has he been given more ice time here or there, but he's actually executed and used it well.
And I think the fact that he has like a little spot for himself usually on the third line. He's been playing with Tavares on the second line more. I wouldn't be surprised if he gets a look on the top line with Matthews and Marner, and now the bunting's out. But just-- Mikheyev, I think, will have a huge moment in May. I can really see it. And honestly, I think it's amazing for him. I think it's amazing for the team, and I think it's amazing for a lot of the supporters who have been on [INAUDIBLE], been huge fans in Mikheyev since day one. So the playoffs are where a where a lot of heroes are made. I think Ilya Mikheyev has a chance of being one of them.