In a somewhat unusual move, the Leafs are trying to help other teams sign Ilya Mikheyev now, instead of waiting until free agency opens on July 13. There’s no clever scheme here to allow someone to sign the nearly 28-year-old Mikheyev to an eight-year deal. But the thinking seems to be to allow a team to negotiate ahead of the frenzy. A cynical person might assume that the deal would be a trade for rights after a contract was already agreed upon so the acquiring team was buying a sure thing.

The return on a trade like this one is not large — and this is a very different situation than last summer’s odd try by the Oilers to get the Leafs to help them sign Zach Hyman to eight years. The likely return for rights to a pending UFA is a late-round pick, almost certainly a seventh.

We’ll see where this goes.

(Pension Plan Puppets would like to formally apologize for the low quality of the insider news heading into the long weekend.)