Trade brewing? Golden Knights raise eyebrows by waiving Calvin Pickard

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In claiming Malcolm Subban off of waivers, the Vegas Golden Knights seemed like they might need to fight through a dreaded three-goalie situation, at least for some time.

That’s not the worst problem to have when it makes for a trio of Subban, Calvin Pickard, and starter Marc-Andre Fleury … but it also might not be a long-lasting issue.

There were more than a few bewildered faces (or intense stares?) when word surfaced that Vegas placed Pickard on waivers today. He wasn’t the only notable name, as the Toronto Maple Leafs did the same with Martin Marinicin:

So, what might happen next? And why did they do this?

It’s not completely intuitive that placing a goalie on waivers would make him easier to trade. Sin Bin Vegas sheds some light on why this could grease the wheels:

Interesting.

Sin Bin Vegas notes that this could allow a recall of Vadim Shipachyov. It’s also worth noting that, while he was placed on IR to start the season, James Neal apparently could come back soon. The Las Vegas Journal-Review’s Steve Carp seemed impressed with Neal during the morning skate.

So, maybe part of the plan is to trade Pickard. Perhaps management simply believes that it’s worth the waiver risk to get other skaters into the mix.

Either way, it’s an interesting situation. Subban making things crowded means that this wasn’t totally out of left field, but personally, it wasn’t necessarily anticipated, either.

Especially considering that there are at least some who are quite fond of Pickard.

Pickard, 25, struggled when pressed into action in 2016-17, yet few goalies would put up great numbers over 50 games with that abysmal rendition of the Colorado Avalanche. Despite those tougher times, he has a solid .914 save percentage so far in his brief NHL career.

Goalies are fickle beasts, and some believe that Pickard has potential. Depending upon how this shakes out, we might see more than a few Subban vs. Pickard comparisons down the line.

Anyway, should a team bite the bullet and grab him now? Is Subban worth it? There’s a lot to digest here.

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.