PHT Morning Skate: Futa out of Canes’ GM search; Ference joins NHL

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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.

• LA Kings assistant GM Mike Futa has taken himself out of the running for the Carolina Hurricanes’ open position. [LA Times]

Auston Matthews continues to work back from a shoulder injury that’s sidelined him since Feb. 22. He’s expected to miss the next two games for the Toronto Maple Leafs as the timetable for a return remains up in the air. [Toronto Sun]

• Tod Leiweke is leaving his role as COO of the NFL and is expected to join his brother Tim with the Oak View Group, who are hoping to bring an NHL team to Seattle. [Seattle Times]

• Andrew Ference has joined the NHL front office as Director of Social Impact, Growth & Fan Development. He’ll be responsible for “helping to advance the League’s social impact, community based grassroots and fan development growth efforts.” [NHL.com]

• A former teammate of Marc-Andre Fleury describes him well: “Marc-Andre is like chocolate, you just can’t not like him.” [NHL.com]

• Since coming over from the Nashville Predators, Patric Hornqvist has been nothing but consistent for the Penguins. [Pensburgh]

Alex Ovechkin’s 13-year deal, signed in 2008, has been a winner for both sides. [USA Today]

• The upcoming three-game road trip may seem like an easy six points for the San Jose Sharks, but beware. [CSN Bay Area]

• From one U.S. Defense Secretary to another: Jim Mattis sent goaltender Maddie Rooney a note of congratulations for helping backstop the American women to gold in PyeongChang. [Olympic Talk]

• Give Patrik Laine all of the love. Please. [FanRag Sports]

Pierre-Luc Dubois is giving the Columbus Blue Jackets reason to believe he’s the No. 1 center they’ve needed. [Jackets Cannon]

• When minor leaguers get a taste of the NHL, they want a regular spot even more, even if it means food that isn’t Chipotle. [Sun Times]

• Why the Edmonton Oilers should keep Ryan Strome at center and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on the wing. [Oilers Nation]

Jack Campbell on his long journey to the NHL. [Kings]

• Tyson Nash and Paul Bissonnette are bringing some personality back to hockey. [Front Office Sports]

• When will New York Rangers fans get a glimpse of the future and get to see Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil in the lineup? [Blue Seat Blogs]

• Taking stock of the depth on the Colorado Avalanche blue line. [Mile High Hockey]

• The ECHL is down one team as the Quad City Mallards announced they will cease operations at the end of the season. [The Sin Bin]

• Finally, if you missed it, here’s the story of what happened to former NHLer Paul Ranger:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9PJfxdZyRQ%5D

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.