PHT Morning Skate: Maple Leafs could go without a captain again next season

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— It is assumed that Auston Matthews, fresh off of a 40-goal season as a rookie, is going to be the next captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs. But it may not happen this season if you are to believe general manager Lou Lamoriello. “I would not be surprised if we did not have a captain next year,” Lamoriello told TSN’s Pierre LeBrun earlier this week. “Right now, that isn’t something in the forefront. I think we had tremendous leadership this year with a lot of young players and that’s not something being considered at this point.” The Maple Leafs went without a captain this season and have not officially had one since Dion Phaneuf was traded during the 2015-16 season. [TSN]

— Nashville’s musical stars are all in on supporting the Predators during their Stanley Cup Final run, as they have been since the team arrived two decades ago. [Sports Illustrated]

— Speaking of musical stars hopping on the bandwagon, Justin Bieber seems to be on the Penguins’ bandwagon after snapping a selfie in a Penguins jersey. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is not quite sure what to make of that and what it means for the team. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

— Another somewhat bizarre Penguins note: here is one fan of the team that decided to get a Sidney Crosby tattoo on her arm. As in, she had Sidney Crosby sign her arm then went back and had it tattooed. [The Score]

— Vancouver Canucks forwards Henrik and Daniel Sedin were awarded honorary Doctor of Law degrees from Kwantlen Polytechnic University. The university announced in a statement that the twins were getting the honorary degrees for “citizenship, sportsmanship, civility, respect, and care they demonstrate both on and off the ice in their adopted province of B.C.” [Kwantlen Polytechnic University]

— Here are 12 free agents that the Vegas Golden Knights should target during their exclusive free agent negotiating window. If they sign any it would count as their expansion draft selection from that team. [Sportsnet]

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports
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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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David Kirouac/USA TODAY Sports
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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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Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports
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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.