PHT Morning Skate: Bruins, Flames will play in China; Stamkos the underrated superstar

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

• The Boston Bruins and Calgary Flames will play a pair of preseason games in China as part of the O.R.G. NHL China Games. (

• Bruce Cassidy only put the line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak together because his team was down 3-0 t0 Columbus in the first half of a game played on Oct. 30. That worked out pretty well. (Sportsnet)

Steven Stamkos consistently seems to be one of the more underrated superstars in the NHL, but taking a deeper look at the numbers proves that he’s among the league’s elite. (Sporting News)

• Jets forward Blake Wheeler took a bit of a shot at the crowd at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. (Nashville Post)

• Jets fans at the MTS Center were booing P.K. Subban in Game 3, but that really should be considered a compliment for the superstar blue liner. (Winnipeg Free Press)

• As you probably realized in the first two Games of the series between Washington and Pittsburgh, not having Evgeni Malkin proved to be critical. As good as a lot of their forwards are, Malkin is the team’s MVP. (The Sports Daily)

• The Washington Nationals have been huge supporters of the Capitals’ playoff run. “It’s really important to these guys,” Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said. “They really want to support the Caps and D.C., and I think it’s pretty fun. I think it’s pretty cool. There was a big shoutout when Ovi knocked that one in and they kind of clinched the win with a couple seconds left.” (Washington Post)

• How does the NHL decide whether or not a a goal being reviewed should actually count or not? Well, they use a Hawk-Eye system, but the fact that decisions have to be made quickly makes things a little more complex. (USA Today)

• NHLers talk to ESPN about the best beards in the league, the worst team in the league and more. Jets forward Patrik Laine got called out by one of his teammates (rightfully so). (ESPN)

• John Tortorella shared an interesting story from his playing days in Sweden. Let’s just say that being stuck in Germany with no clothes and no money doesn’t sound fun. (

• Take a behind-the-scenes look at what life in the minor leagues is like. This writer chronicled his journey with the AHL’s Iowa Wild, and let’s just say that life in pro hockey isn’t always glamorous. (Iowa Wild)

• Teams trading outside of the lottery hasn’t happened very often, but the Hurricanes might be one of those teams that looks into doing that this year. (Section 328)

• The timing of the draft lottery is great for TV consumption, but it makes life a little more difficult for a lot of the scouts. (The Hockey News)

• Yesterday, the Edmonton Oilers signed goalie Mikko Koskinen to a contract, but the signing just seems to make the goalie depth chart more confusing. (Oilers Nation)

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

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    Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

    Ilya Mikheyev
    Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports

    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

    Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports

    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

    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

    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.