While the Ottawa Senators are starting their season with a host of young players, they’ll be happy to know they won’t be the only ones to do that this year.
The Columbus Blue Jackets will be starting their season getting a look at four young players as well after the team went through their last round of cuts. Among those joining the team are 2009 first round pick forward Ryan Johansen, former Boston College standout Cam Atkinson, Russian speedster Maksim Mayorov and training camp surprise David Savard.
The two most exciting guys in this bunch are Johansen and Atkinson. For Johansen, he’ll get nine games to prove that he can stick on Columbus’ roster or else he’s heading back to the WHL in juniors. Atkinson is getting a shot to prove he can cut it in the NHL and avoid being fished out back to the AHL in Springfield.
Johansen and Atkinson have the offensive abilities to help the Blue Jackets become a better scoring team, the key for them is getting the minutes and opportunities to do so. With Kristian Huselius starting the year on IR and the Jackets having limited resources for guys that can score, Johansen and Atkinson could just be the guys making their hopes for the postseason coming true.
Another injury is helping keep spots open at forward for the likes of Mayorov as Jared Boll will start the year on IR with a broken thumb. Boll will be out 4-6 weeks with the injury and while Boll provides toughness, injecting more speed and offense to the lineup is a good thing for Columbus.
As for David Savard, the Blue Jackets being a bit thin on the blue line (thinner with James Wisniewski missing the first eight games with a suspension) giving him a shot to stick around is a shot worth taking for both GM Scott Howson and coach Scott Arniel. While guys like Fedor Tyutin, Marc Methot, Kris Russell, Grant Clitsome, and Radek Martinek are likely there to stay Savard and Aaron Johnson will battle it out to see who can stay in the NHL. They’ll get eight games to do just that.
Much like in Ottawa, these moves aren’t permanent invites to stay in the NHL and it’s up to those players to prove they belong and can be productive NHL players. Guys like Atkinson and Johansen are likely going to get every opportunity to do just that. If the goals come in bunches, they’ll be there to stay as the Blue Jackets try to get back to the playoffs.
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.