2010 NHL Trade Deadline: Which Team Will Kick Off The Action?

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With the NHL roster freeze lifting at 11:59 on the East Coast, teams have just two and a half days before the trade deadline and there could be a flurry of action between then and 3 p.m. on Wednesday. We’ve already seen a number of trades happen before the freeze began on February 12th, as Atlanta traded both Ilya Kovalchuk and Kari Lehtonen, and there’s bound to be some early-Monday morning action as general managers from around the league start acting on the deals they’ve been working on the past two weeks.

So now it becomes a question as to which team will start off the action, as it looks as though there could be some fireworks almost immediately after the freeze is lifted.

Figuring out which teams will be the first to make a move is a bit tricky and completely unknown, but it’s not as tough to determine which team’s we’ll certainly see become active at the deadline. Toronto, Montreal, Florida and Edmonton are all expected to make major moves because of both either salary cap issues or a completely demoralizing season thus far. It’s both for the Maple Leafs really, although it’s doubtfyl we’ll see a firesale of any sort coming from Brian Burke.

One team to look out for in the wee hours of the morning could be the Carolina Hurricanes, who Jeff Marek is expecting to be the first to deal:

Soooo…what’s the
first trade to get announced later tonight/this morn? prediction: Aaron
Ward (CAROLINA) to OTTAWA.

There have been a slew of rumors surrounding which defenseman Ottawa will target, as word spread the past few weeks that the Senators were targeting Stephane Robidas of the Dallas Stars. Despite the fact that Joe Nieuwendyk just traded his top defensive prospect for a goaltender who hasn’t played in the NHL in nearly a year, it’s doubtful that the Stars will even consider trading Robidas. So it seems as if Ward is the target and with two weeks worth of chatter and whispering going around about which GM is talking to who, there’s most likely some good truth to this rumor.

The other possibility might be the Florida Panthers, who sit in 12th place in the East but are technically not out of the playoff picture. There’s been word that GM Randy Sexton has been busy this past week, yet he maintains there will be no Panthers fire sale. He says it himself:

That said, Sexton told me, “make no mistake — there will be no fire
sale.”

Of course, everyone knows that Sexton is in the midst of rebuilding the Panthers and usually the first big step is what is commonly referred to as a ‘fire sale’. The fact that Sexton is working hard to get back players, prospects and draft picks at the deadline certainly speaks to the rebuilding effort he’s employing, but it’s tough to see a team like Florida getting that kind of value without trading away a number of it’s current assets.

Like in a fire sale.

Roster freeze lifts at 11:59 p.m. tonight, less than an hour away. Then it’s 63 hours until to the 3 p.m. deadline. Should be a wild ride.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.