When we discussed Randy Carlyle’s three-year contract extension earlier today, much of the focus was on the Anaheim Ducks’ predicament going into the 2011-12 season. Few teams face the kind of uncertainty that Anaheim is coping with right now, with high-scoring veteran winger Teemu Selanne mulling retirement and Jonas Hiller dealing with vertigo issues.
Perhaps it shouldn’t be too surprising that Ducks GM Bob Murray addressed both players while discussing Carlyle’s contract extension today. Unfortunately, Murray wouldn’t (or couldn’t) really giving any concrete information.
As far as top goalie Jonas Hiller is concerned, Murray seemed pretty optimistic, saying that Hiller has been working out regularly in Switzerland and is “in a good place” right now. A healthy Hiller would be absolutely huge for a Ducks defense that declined signficantly since the departure of Chris Pronger and retirement of Scott Niedermayer.
Murray said that Selanne is “struggling a bit” to recover from off-season knee surgery, which explains why the prolific Finnish winger will probably put off a retirement decision until September. Meanwhile, Murray said that he placed “no time frame on him whatsoever” on Selanne’s decision, which only seems fair for a veteran player who has meant so much to the franchise.
“I think he was getting depressed with the whole thing and then I think he had a few days where it wasn’t bugging him,” Murray said Monday. “I think he intends to go pretty hard this week with the bigger boys that are there in Helsinki. We are scheduled to speak after this week is over.”
Murray said that he does have a plan of action if Selanne does retire, although he didn’t really elaborate on the details. Interestingly enough, he did seem to imply that this Plan B might involve more than just a free agent acquisition (although he didn’t explicitly say as much).
Speaking about the prospect of replacing Selanne, Murray said: “You don’t replace him so you just have to …. we’d have to change the team. Yes, there’s a Plan B. We’d have to do some things that I don’t want to discuss right now.
“But we’d have to look at building the team a different way without Teemu. There’s no doubt about that. And you don’t replace him. You go about it a different way with your hockey team.”
As cryptic as that sounds, the rest of the Ducks’ off-season could be fascinating to watch, especially since Selanne’s retirement is a possibility. Both Hiller and Selanne’s situations could have a big impact on the Ducks and their rivals, so stay tuned for future updates.
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.