Wild woes: Parise in limbo, Granlund out at least four games

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The Minnesota Wild don’t have a lot of players on the shelf, but they sure have a lot of money sidelined as they struggle early in 2017-18.

For one thing, even as his game starts to sag with age, it’s not the greatest sign when Zach Parise needs to insist that he’s not dealing with a back issue (via Dave Mizutani of the Pioneer Press). Whatever it might be, it’s not the greatest sign for the 33-year-old and the team that could use him, whether he’s declining or not.

Things aren’t looking good for Mikael Granlund at the moment, either, as head coach Bruce Boudreau ruled him out for at least the Wild’s next four games.

As a note, the Wild face a fairly tough stretch soon. Since Boudreau said “for sure,” it could be for more than those four, so here’s the rest of their October schedule:

Thu, Oct 12 @ Chicago
Sat, Oct 14 vs Columbus
Fri, Oct 20 @ Winnipeg
Sat, Oct 21 @ Calgary
Tue, Oct 24 vs Vancouver
Thu, Oct 26 vs NY Islanders
Sat, Oct 28 vs Pittsburgh
Tue, Oct 31 vs Winnipeg

Four games (or so) would actually be reasonably logical, what with the Wild closing out the month at home. Granlund can avoid travel; even at 25, it might be helpful not to get on a plane, particularly if he has a leg/groin issue.

Either way, Granlund’s issue might be more frustrating for the player and his team than what Parise is going through. The rising forward avoided salary arbitration this past summer with a three-year contract that carries a $5.75 million cap hit, so he’s likely eager to show that he’s worth the money (and more).

MORE: Wild salary cap outlook after they signed Granlund

It doubly stings since he finally broke through in 2016-17; Granlund enjoyed career-highs in goals (26), assists (43), points (69), and saw his shooting percentage go above 10 for the first time (14.7).

Everything seemed to come together last season, prompting Granlund to state that the Wild were in a great position to exorcise some playoff demons in 2017-18.

Not having the gifted Granlund and the still-useful Parise in the lineup hurts, but the Wild can only see that excuse go so far, especially in a Central Division where they banged-up St. Louis Blues have won their first three games despite an imposing list of issues.

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.