PHT Morning Skate: Tampa didn’t break bank on Kucherov extension

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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.

Nikita Kucherov‘s behemoth contract extension with the Tampa Bay Lightning may look monstrous on the outside, but the comparables suggest that it didn’t break the bank in Florida. (Sportsnet)

• The NHL liked the eSports scene so much after venturing into this season that it would like to take a bigger leap into the digital world. (Sportsnet)

• Bobby Orr says Auston Matthews has no issue John Tavares and the possible captaincy of the Toronto Maple Leafs. (NHL.com)

• Here’s a look at three teams who missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs this past season who could make it next year, and three teams that made it that could miss out this coming season. (The Hockey News)

• Calgary Flames defenceman Dalton Prout plans to prove he still belongs at the NHL level. (Calgary Sun)

• The parents of a member of the Humboldt Broncos who was killed in a horrific crash with a semi truck this past spring are filing a lawsuit against the truck driver and the company he drove for. (Sporting News)

• The NHL revealed the logo for the upcoming Winter Classic, which will be contested between the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins at Notre Dame Stadium. (NHL.com)

• Hockey Canada made some changes to its front office on Tuesday. (Hockey Canada)

• There have been many possible landing spots for Erik Karlsson via trade. Here’s one that explores the Swede heading to Florida for Aaron Ekblad. (The Hockey Writers)

• The days of Max Pacioretty being a member/captain of the Montreal Canadiens appears to be drawing to a close. (Montreal Gazette)

• The New York Rangers had to blow a lot of it up this season. It happens, and they’re building up their prospect pool the right way. (The Hockey News)

Patrick Maroon opted to sign as a free agent in his hometown of St. Louis on Tuesday, meaning the New Jersey Devils need to find his replacement. (NJ.com)

• The Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board is buying shares in a sports data collection firm? Yup. (Times Colonist)

• The Staal brothers are giving back in a colorful way in their hometown of Thunder Bay. (CBC.ca)


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

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

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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

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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

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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.