It’s Vancouver Canucks day at PHT

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One year after finishing second in the Pacific Division with 101 points, the Vancouver Canucks fell apart in 2015-16.

The Canucks finished with the third-worst record in the NHL last season and exposed plenty of weaknesses on the ice, behind the bench and in the front office.

GM Jim Benning has come under fire for some of the moves he’s made and some he failed to make.

The way the roster is constructed certainly doesn’t help. The Sedins still had solid years, but they’re production dipped last season. Daniel and Henrik, now both 35, are closer to the end of their careers than the beginning. But they’re far from being the problem.

After the Sedins (Daniel had 61 points, Henrik had 55 points), no other player had more than 40 points and only Daniel and Jannik Hansen surpassed the 20-goal mark.

Off-season recap

Benning made a couple of big moves via trade and in free agency.

The Canucks shipped Jared McCann to the Florida Panthers for Erik Gudbranson. McCann had just 18 points in 69 NHL games, but when you consider he was only 19-years-old last year, you have to wonder why the Canucks would make this move. Although Gudbranson is a former third overall pick, it looks like he’ll be a physical, defensive defenseman in the NHL.

To make matters worse, Vancouver also gave up a 2016 second-round pick and a 2016 fourth-round pick, while only received a 2016 fifth-round pick from Florida.

At the draft, the Canucks took some heat for selecting Finnish defenseman Olli Juolevi fifth overall. That might not be such a bad pick if he can develop into the impact defenseman the Canucks have been missing for years.

On July 1st, Benning opened up the checkbook and signed 31-year-old forward Loui Eriksson to a six-year, $36 million deal. That’s probably not the wisest move for a team that should be rebuilding. Eriksson’s a solid player, but locking him up through his age-37 season seems like a quick fix.

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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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

caufield surgery
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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

matty beniers
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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.