Ilya Mikheyev is close to being fully recovered from knee surgery, but whether he plays in any pre-season games is a question mark.
Mikheyev’s agent Dan Milstein told Postmedia Wednesday his client is likely still three to four weeks away from being 100 per cent again.
Asked whether that means Mikheyev would miss pre-season games, Milstein played cautious.
“He could be ready, but why risk in pre-season,” he said.
“Maybe play the final two games.”
Mikheyev is back on the ice, at least, and has been skating in the Vancouver area, though he hasn’t yet been spotted with this teammates at the player-organized skates that have taken place the last two days at the University of B.C. under the direction of Canucks skills coach Yogi Svejkovsky.
Mikheyev tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the Canucks’ first pre-season game nearly a year ago, but after consulting with doctors was able to recover well enough to press on and play in the regular season, with trainers taping his knee heavily before putting on a brace to support the damaged structure of his knee.
Still, he wasn’t at 100 per cent and with the Canucks’ playoffs hopes dashed by the end of January, the player and the team decided it was time for surgery.
He had a procedure Feb. 2 and at the time, the team and Milstein both said it would take eight months for him to be fully recovered, around Oct. 2. But they also indicated they hoped he would be fully recovered a couple weeks before that, in time for the opening of training camp.
In other words, his recovery is still in the range that was expected — but with the Canucks only playing six pre-season games this year, there’s not a lot of leeway to get a key winger into some exhibition action ahead of what everyone knows will be a crucial opening to the season.
The Canucks play four pre-season games between Sept. 24 and 30, then two more Oct. 4 and 6, before their season opener at home on Oct. 11.
Those latter two games do come after the full eight-month window ends.
Every player will tell you how important pre-season games are in preparing for the regular season, so there will be plenty of attention paid on whether Mikheyev is fully recovered in time to play in a pre-season game or two.
For his part, Milstein has been playing it cool all along.
Earlier on Wednesday, CHEK-TV’s Rick Dhaliwal said he wasn’t sure Mikheyev would be ready for games, though he expected the winger would be ready to take part in training camp.
“Milstein’s preaching patience with Mikheyev, he’ll be at training camp,” Dhaliwal said.
Last week, Milstein told the Sekeres and Price show that he’d been telling his client that the NHL season is a marathon, not a sprint.
“It’s not about the pre-season, it’s about the entire 82 games and then some,” Milstein said on Aug. 29, making it clear the focus for him is the start of the regular season,
Mikheyev had 13 goals and 15 assists in 46 games for Vancouver last season, his first with the Canucks after signing a four-year, $15 million deal.
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