No decision by Kovalchuk, Kings re-interested in Gagne?

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Thumbnail image for kovalchukjuly1.jpgThe delicate dance of free agency continues with Ilya Kovalchuk. On a day that started with his agent Jay Grossman announcing on Twitter that a decision was coming today for where Kovalchuk would sign, then evolved into the New York Post saying that it was going to be the Devils signing him for seven years and then backing off of that story fast has turned out to be absolutely nothing instead.

Ilya Kovalchuk choices have been narrowed down, details to be finalized but no announcement tonight….

Thank goodness today was a holiday for everyone in the United States or else some serious productivity in the New York tri-state area might’ve been lost waiting to see if the Devils or Islanders were going to be landing the most coveted free agent in the NHLs salary cap era. A funny thing about the Islanders supposed involvement in this whole thing though is that they apparently wanted a short-term deal with Kovalchuk (subscription needed), and not the hotly-rumored ten-year max contract.

While all that has gone on, the other team that at one point had interest in Kovalchuk, the Kings, decided to speak up today to say that they might not be against trying to obtain Simon Gagne from the Flyers. The twist there being that they had news come out that they were out of the hunt for Gagne. ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun sums it up succinctly for us via Twitter.

Now we’re told the Kings may still possibly have some interest in Simon Gagne… confusing. Like this day has been.

As the wind blows, and Kovalchuk’s news continues to not actually occur, situations with teams seeking to go with their post-Kovalchuk Plan B change too. What’s the most likely scenario playing out here for all parties involved? Tweaking the media and the blogosphere and the fans to help stir the reactions one way or another and do some negotiating through the media.

A leak here, a whisper there, a supposed contract offer everywhere and you’ve got yourself the perfect storm for figuring out just where and how fans and other teams will respond to things. The Kings say they’re out of the running for good (and LeBrun believes them) and reports of their re-interest in Simon Gagne surface just an hour or so after Kovalchuk’s agent Jay Grossman says a decision hasn’t been made about where his client is headed. Paint me as cynical here if you’d like, but these things don’t appear to be much of a coincidence to me.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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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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Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports
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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.