This post is part of Lightning Day on PHT…
The Tampa Bay Lightning went through plenty of adversity last season, but there’s no denying that Brayden Point was one of the bright spots on the roster.
Even though he wasn’t as dominant as Nikita Kucherov or Victor Hedman, the rookie emerged as a dependable player in a season that saw Steven Stamkos play just 17 games.
The fact that a player drafted in the third round was able to contribute in the NHL as a 20-year-old (he only turned 21 in March) is nothing short of remarkable.
Even though he missed 14 games with an upper-body injury, Point still managed to score 18 goals and 40 points in 68 contests. Over 82 games, that works out to 48 points and 22 goals.
“I’m just so impressed that somebody that young and a little bit undersized (listed at 5 feet 10, 166 pounds) can come in,” Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said in April, per the Tampa Bay Times. “A lot of guys put the team on their back the last few months. But (Point’s) growth has been phenomenal. It’s just a committed kid. There are not enough guys like him, I’ll tell you that.”
Cooper was so impressed with Point, that he brought him to the World Hockey Championship last spring (Cooper was Team Canada’s head coach). During Canada’s silver-medal run, the young Tampa forward registered four goals and one assist in 10 games.
Now that he has another major international tournament (he wore the “C” for Canada at the World Juniors in 2015-16) and a full NHL season under his belt, Point should be able to take a step forward in 2017-18.
Assuming everyone’s healthy (that’s far from guaranteed), Point will likely slot in as the Bolts’ third line center behind Steven Stamkos and Tyler Johnson. But both those players have dealt with their share of injuries over the last few seasons, so there’s also a decent chance that the team will count on him to play more important minutes at some point.
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.