PHT Morning Skate: Players to watch at Olympics; Nash willing to go to Leafs

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• Team USA goalies will be allowed to have the Statue of Liberty on their goalie masks. (ESPN)

• USA hockey fans, this one might hurt. Marie-Philip Poulin breaks down her golden goal from the 2014 Olympics. (Yahoo)

• ESPN gives us a good list of players to watch in the upcoming Olympic tournament. There’s a couple of former great NHLers on this list. (ESPN)

• Team USA hockey players were asked to phone someone (not a family member) who helped them get to where they are today. (USA Hockey)

• According to TSN.ca, Rick Nash is willing to go to the Toronto Maple Leafs. (TSN.ca)

• ‘Hawks goalie Corey Crawford was back on the ice with some of his teammates yesterday morning, but the Chicago Sun-Times believes he shouldn’t return to game action until September. (Chicago Sun-Times)

• Speaking of the Blackhawks, they’re definitely in trouble, and Jonathan Toews‘ sudden decline is part of the problem. (Sporting News)

• Does acquiring Ryan McDonagh make sense for the Boston Bruins? (Stanley Cup of Chowder)

Be sure to visit NBCOlympics.com and NBC Olympic Talk for full hockey coverage from PyeongChang.

• Even though the Rangers are going into rebuild mode, Glen Sather will be sticking around. (NY Post)

Max Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec might not be returning home from the Canadiens’ upcoming road trip. (Sportsnet)

• Stars GM Jim Nill like to keep his cards close to the vest when it comes to potential moves. (Defending Big D)

• The Leafs have too many healthy bodies right now, and it might cost them Nikita Soshnikov. (faceoffcircle.ca)

• A demotion to the fourth line helped get Corey Perry going again. (OC Register)

• Rookie Alexander Kerfoot isn’t in the Calder Trophy discussion, but he’s having an impressive first season. (Fan Rag Sports)

• The NWHL’s third annual All-Star game was pretty entertaining. (Victory Press)

• Ken Morrow talks about the Miracle on Ice team that won the gold medal at the 1980 Olympics. (The Sin Bin)

• Hockey players participating in a tournament have been swabbing their cheeks to see if they’re a bone marrow match for a toddler with cancer. (CTV.ca)

• Team Canada’s women’s team took down Finland earlier today (NBC Olympics)

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

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

austonmatthews
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

caufield surgery
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

matty beniers
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.