The Vancouver Canucks announced late last night that winger Ilya Mikheyev will undergo surgery for a torn ACL. He will miss the rest of the 2022-23 season.
VCR GM Patrik Allvin announces Ilya Mikheyev is being shut down, needs ACL surgery. Played with injury suffered in preseason
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) January 28, 2023
Ilya Mikheyev Gone With Knee Surgery
As dramatic as it sounds, torn anterior cruciate ligaments can be played on with low risk if the damage is minor. There was hope that Vancouver could make the playoffs, however faint. This decision by the team is as clear a marker as is available that they finally believe the race is over.
Curiously, there was talk early in the season that Mikheyev had an injury in training camp. The team brushed off concerns and he was allowed to continue skating after missing the opening three games of the season.
Wanted to clarify something from @Sportsnet650 this morn. I said there was concern from #Canucks initially that Ilya Mikheyev may have suffered torn ACL & they were awaiting update.
Sounds like the prognosis was positive and worst was avoided. Expected to resume skating soon.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) September 29, 2022
As for why exactly he was allowed to continue playing instead of getting the surgery immediately, clearly the team thought they needed all hands on deck to make the playoffs. Whether that was the right choice, well, let’s say he wasn’t the deciding factor. That being said, he has been their second most successful free agent signing of the year.
Canucks Will Miss Mikheyev
Signing Ilya Mikheyev to a four-year, $4.75 million AAV deal was a surprising turn for the cap-strapped team. Skill at wing is not a weakness for the club, after all. But team speed is, and Mikheyev is one of the fastest players in the NHL. Or he was before the injury struck.
That reduced speed hampered not only his offence but his defensive contributions as well. Two areas the Canucks desperately need right now, and the reasons he was signed, and he faltered at both. Through no fault of his own, obviously, but typical of Vancouver’s luck this season.
Mikheyev is signed for another three seasons past this one, so there are still plenty of contributions for him to make. He’s fit well on the club so far, with 20 goals and 45 points within reach if he stayed healthy. Ideally, he’ll come back fit and he can help the woeful – possibly historic – penalty kill.
For now, the Canucks need someone who can take his place in the regular lineup. Fortunately for the team, there is no lack of players on the wings who can step up. If it means a spot beside Elias Pettersson and Andrei Kuzmenko, so much the better.
About the Money
A more interesting side effect is the suddenly-open cap space. With as much as $4 million available, the possibility of taking back contracts from potential trade partners is magnified. A financially uneven trade is now an option with somewhat less wrangling needed.
In the meantime, there’s no actual rush to call anyone up. The Canucks are going into a “bye week” with the All-Star Game coming up and don’t play again until February 6th. On the other hand, the break gives new coach Rick Tocchet some much-needed study time.
Assuming the team doesn’t make any major deals between now and then, it seems likely Lane Pederson or Phillip Di Giuseppe will join the team. Though at this point, that might be a large assumption to make. Neither will likely take Ilya Mikheyev’s spot but will settle in on the bottom six.
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