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As comfort level rises, Soup-erman Mikheyev becoming a force

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After making his NHL debut earlier this month, Ilya Mikheyev was asked about the adjustment coming from Russia to Canada. The 25-year-old KHL import told reporters that he really likes soup and finds it strange that it's not as popular here.

"I don’t know why you don’t eat soup," he said to chuckles.

The comment created a stir on social media.

His agent, Dan Milstein, start lobbying for a soup sponsorship.

The Souperman 65 Ilya Mikheyev is on pace for 82 point season with another stellar performance for the Toronto Maple Leafs with 2 points and 3 BUT still no soup deal for North America? #MakeSoupPopularInCanada! #ShowMeTheMoney! #tmltalk #WeAreGoldStar pic.twitter.com/S0eRKKcSAK

The Maple Leafs asked fans on Twitter for their best soup puns.

Serving up a bowl of birthday borscht for Ilya Mikheyev 🍲🎉 pic.twitter.com/L21B2YvRvI

Bob Hartley, who coached Mikheyev with Omsk Avangard, said his team would be sending over some cases of borscht, Mikheyev's favourite, to help ease the transition and share with his new teammates.

Ilya joined @NHL not long ago, but he has already got a great nickname - “Souperman”. Bob Hartley is keeping an eye on his former player and he’s really worried that Mikheyev doesn’t have any borsch in Canada. We are ready to send a few cases of borsch to @mapleleafs! pic.twitter.com/jLw3UMc4sV

So, why does Mikheyev love soup so much?

"Because in Russia, every day we eat it," he explained. "Every day."

Mikheyev says soup is usually a staple of his lunches, which he eats after practice.

"When teammates see when I eat soup they always ask me, 'You like it? Good, good,'" says Mikheyev with a sheepish smile.

"There's soup here every day now so I guess he's turned something around," said a grinning Auston Matthews.

Truth is the kitchen at the Leafs facility always has soup readily available, it's just never been this big of a deal.

"Everyone keeps talking about it," noted Kasperi Kapanen. "Russians are big into soup, I guess, and he loves soup so whatever works for him."

Matthews enjoys his mom's chicken tortilla soup, but doesn't consider himself a devotee like Mikheyev.

"Pretty much just when my mom cooks it," Matthews said, "I’m not going out to dinner and asking for soup usually."

"I dabble," said goalie Frederik Andersen. "The guys in the kitchen do a really good job. We usually have a soup every day and I try and get a little extra hydration that way. I don't mind a good soup."

Whatever you think about soup, everyone agrees that whatever Mikheyev's doing is working. The left winger, who has skated on the third line with centre Alexander Kerfoot and Trevor Moore, actually leads Toronto in five-on-five points........