PHT Morning Skate: Rask on leaving Bruins bubble; McDavid vs. all-time greats

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

Tuukka Rask on Bruins playoff departure, and other links

• Let’s be honest, criticizing Tuukka Rask for leaving the Bruins’ playoff bubble for family reasons never seemed wise. But, when you realize how serious it seems (Rask noted: “they had to call an ambulance”), the responses seem even worse. Story via PHT’s Adam Gretz. [NBC Sports Boston]

(You can also see Rask discussing leaving the Bruins’ playoff bubble in the video above.)

• Sure, the Blue Jackets signed Pierre-Luc Duboisfor the short term. Reports indicate that it’s merely a Band-Aid, and that Dubois might want out of Columbus. Can this situation be salvaged, unlike certain previous Blue Jackets, such as Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky? [SI/The Hockey News]

• Through the first five years of his career, Connor McDavid justified the hype. As much as McDavid is competing with his peers, he’s also battling history. At least when it comes to his “legacy.” So how does he stack up against the greats so far? [The Score]

• We’re getting closer to the NWHL season, which will culminate in the 2021 Isobel Cup Semifinals and Final airing live on NBCSN. With that in mind, here are some storylines to follow. [The Ice Garden]

• Speaking of the NWHL, PHT’s Marisa Ingemi goes inside the making of The Toronto Six. [The Toronto Star]

• While recovering from concussion issues, Andrew Shaw admitted that he considered retirement. In doing so, Shaw cemented the thought that he has life outside of hockey. He just wants to play while he still can — but not play scared. [NBC Sports Chicago]

• Following John Marino‘s lengthy contract extension, the Penguins boast one of the most expensive defensive corps in the NHL. Are they getting their money’s worth? [Pensburgh]

• Here is the updated NHL on NBC TV schedule with newly announced start times by the NHL. [PHT]

• Reverse Retro Jerseys and ads on helmets landed on Hockey By Design’s Top 5 worst designs of 2020. Although shouldn’t that be the bottom five of 2020? Anyway, I’ll be quiet. [Hockey By Design]

• Interesting stuff on how the Calgary Flames could provide quality fodder for the Seattle Kraken. Could the Kraken scoop up an aging Mark Giordano? Would it be worth Calgary’s while to do a side deal to avoid that? Mikael Backlund looms as another possible player to poach. [Sound of Hockey]

• Paul Maurice believes that the North Division could give Mark Scheifele a chance to shine in the spotlight. [Sportsnet]

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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    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.