From today’s “NHL Believe It Or Not” files, James Mirtle of the Toronto Globe & Mail fills us in about the unemployment of former Leafs goalie Vesa Toskala. Toskala, who was dealt to Calgary halfway through last season, struggled famously with both Toronto and Calgary. In Calgary, at least, Toskala was able to serve as Miikka Kiprusoff’s backup and not shouldering the load as a starter the way he did in Toronto.
Mirtle finds out that Calgary appreciated Toskala’s work so much as Kipper’s caddy that they wanted to bring him back for another year. The details, of which, are stunning on a few levels.
One of the interesting tidbits I learned was that former Leafs netminder Vesa Toskala had a contract offer earlier this summer to play in the NHL from the Flames, but turned it down because he wanted to still be a No. 1 netminder. Calgary has Miikka Kiprusoff, making that all but impossible there.
According to my source, the offer was for north of $1-million, which would have been a good deal for Toskala given he was coming off of two poor years in Toronto. He also apparently had interest from a Swedish team, but his asking price was too high.
First of all, it’s stunning that Toskala had an offer to play anywhere in the NHL, never mind back in Calgary. Secondly, an offer north of $1 million for a backup goalie in this market where Marty Turco settled for $1.5 million to be a starter is startling. Making things even worse is that Toskala turned it down sparing Calgary and GM Daryl Sutter the hilarious ignominy of having another bloated contract on the books for a player that fans even know struggles on the ice. This is a smorgasbord of comedic failure on all levels, the likes of which we haven’t seen since Daryl Sutter opted to bring back Olli Jokinen this summer.
Look at it this way Flames fans, at least you were spared one final dagger to the solar plexus of your fandom this summer. Sure the Flames might be dealing with Kiprusoff playing 70+ games this year while fighting for a playoff spot this year while any of Leland Irving, Matt Keetley and Henrik Karlsson get to wear a baseball cap most of the season, but at least they’re spared from having to deal with Vesa Toskala and his .880 save percentage and 3.48 goals against average in a “relief” role.
The Flames are easily this off-season’s winner of most amusing team, any and all arguments will not be heard to oppose it.
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.
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.
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.
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.