Gauging goalie trade targets for the Maple Leafs

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The Toronto Maple Leafs are currently in the eighth spot in the East, but they’re floundering a bit. Aside from a mini-run here and there, you can attribute Toronto’s successes almost solely to its explosive offense.

Even in some of the lower moments of the season, GM Brian Burke has been quick to support his goalies – at least publicly – although that seemed to change on Wednesday. The Globe & Mail’s James Mirtle reports that Burke admitted he might test the market for some goaltending help.

Although Mirtle spent much of his story discussing younger netminders such as Ben Bishop, Jonathan Bernier and Cory Schneider, Burke indicated that he’s more interested in a quick-fix. That implies that the Maple Leafs are leaning toward a veteran rental who would cost less in a trade than “goalie of the future” types.

With that in mind, here’s a rundown of some of the most interesting targets who fit Burke’s specifications.

source: Getty ImagesEvgeni Nabokov – Yes, the New York Islanders have indicated that they want to re-sign Nabby, but would that really be the best move for a team whose short-term future is cloudy? It might be best to strike while the iron is hot with a goalie who isn’t getting any younger.

Nabby might not be tailor-made for the Toronto pressure cooker, but he’s playing great hockey and could provide the just-good-enough work to make them an interesting dark horse candidate. (Ron Wilson’s also familiar with him from their time together in San Jose.)

Tomas Vokoun – OK, I know this is a bit surprising, but if the Capitals clean house he’s a logical first choice. Vokoun is an experienced goalie with an expiring contract and plenty to prove. He’s the best option Washington has in net on most nights right now yet his reception keeps getting more sour. That sinking relationship could make for quite the bargain, especially considering Vokoun’s track record before this rocky season.

The point’s probably moot because the Buds and Caps might go head-to-head for one of the last playoff spots, but perhaps it shouldn’t be a moot point.

Antero Niittymaki/Curtis Sanford/Ty Conklin: The Maple Leafs could really reach in the bargain bin with one of these journeyman netminders. Sanford might fetch the highest ransom because he’s had more success season. Oh yeah, he also hasn’t been placed on waivers …

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So what’s your take on Toronto’s net situation? Should they stay put, go cheap with a veteran or sell the farm for a Schneider-type backup? Do tell.

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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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.