NHL scout calls Hodgson-Kassian deal “a terrible trade for Vancouver”

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In his latest piece for Sportsnet Magazine (entitled “Truth Behind Hodgson Trade”), Gare Joyce examines why the Vancouver Canucks dealt away 22-year-old center Cody Hodgson at February’s trade deadline — after he’d won the NHL’s rookie of the month for January — in exchange for Zack Kassian, who had three goals and four assists in 27 NHL games.

The reactions to the trade were vast and varying, but here’s a rather compelling take.

NHL scout: “It’s a terrible trade for Vancouver. Hodgson had done a good job for them this year. He was starting to show he had top-six upside…that he could step up if [Henrik] Sedin or [Ryan] Kesler went down. They didn’t have a player like him who could give them some offence outside of the top six. And centre is the most valuable position — you can’t trade a centre for a depth player with size, certainly not one who’s not a finished product.”

The results thus far? Hodgson went scoreless in his first 10 games as a Sabre but has scored six points in his last four. Kassian scored two points in his first three games as a Canuck but has gone scoreless in his last nine.

As for Joyce’s examination of the trade…he unearthed some pretty interesting findings, especially regarding the meeting Hodgson had with Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault about how he was being utilized.

On Hodgson’s standing in Vancouver: There was a mutually fractious relationship between player and management. There was Rich Winter, a sometimes quarrelsome maverick agent, who is no favourite of Vancouver GM Mike Gillis. And, finally, there was Hodgson’s place among his Canucks teammates — at least a few thought he was a little too ambitious for their liking.

(Related: Cody Hodgson’s agent takes to Twitter to deny trade request, confuses issue further)

On Vancouver’s issues w/Winter: When Winter tweeted that Hodgson had met with Vigneault, it just further annoyed the team. It would have been the last thing [Hodgson’s former agent Don] Meehan and Newport would have done, but it’s completely in character for Winter. The Canucks had to assume there was more coming.

On Hodgson asking about playing time/role on team: In Vancouver, however—with a winning team that thinks it’s heading for a playoff with one more win in reserve than last year—he was still a rookie, no matter how long he had been on the scene. NHL culture has evolved, but not a rookie’s place in it. Teams aren’t looking for dialogues with rookies. They’re around on a need-to-know, speak-when-spoken-to basis, at least with coaches and management.

When Hodsgon went to the coach to talk about his role on the team, in the broader sense he was only asking for a trade.

It’s a curious piece, definitely worth the read — especially since Hodgson’s in the middle of Buffalo’s stirring comeback effort while Kassian has struggled to find his niche in Vancouver.

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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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.