After sending Marc-Andre Fleury to Chicago on Tuesday, the Golden Knights are bringing back Alec Martinez on a three-year, $15.75 million deal.
Martinez, who was set to hit the unrestricted free agent market on Wednesday, will carry a $5.25 million cap hit through the 2023-24 NHL season. According to Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli, the deal includes a $1.5 million signing bonus in the final two years and a modified no-trade clause.
The defenseman was second in scoring among Golden Knights defensemen with nine goals and 32 points. He led the team in total average ice time (1,195:59) and shorthanded ice time (131:07), and was the NHL leader in blocked shots (168). After being paired with Shea Theodore following the 2020 trade that brought him to Las Vegas, he the last part of this season alongside Alex Pietrangelo on the top pairing.
Busy summer with more work to do
Signing Martinez, plus dealing away Fleury, gives the Golden Knights a little under $7 million in cap space, per Cap Friendly. Restricted free agents Dylan Coghlan and Nolan Patrick, who were given qualifying offers this week, plus UFAs Mattias Janmark and Tomas Nosek, are the only players left for general manager Kelly McCrimmon to decide on.
After some high-priced moves the Golden Knights have made the last few seasons, the flat salary cap is putting a squeeze on them, forcing these changes. Their main core of players is locked up beyond the 2021-22 NHL season, with Max Pacioretty seeing his contract expires in the summer of 2023.
If Vegas is to remain in the Jack Eichel sweepstakes, any deal would be a “dollar in, dollar out” move, meaning a longtime piece could be part of a package. Reilly Smith? Alex Tuch? The Golden Knights have been aggressive in improving their team since that memorable first season. They’ll want to further cement their Stanley Cup contender status this offseason, and such an impact move would do just that.
Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.
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.
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.
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.
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.