PHT Morning Skate: Tavares on best-on-best hockey; Michigan’s expectations

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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? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.

• Maple Leafs captain John Tavares on why hockey needs a best-on-best tournament: “It’s important for our game, especially considering this next generation of players we have now. With Papi [Auston Matthews], Mitchy [Marner], [Leon] Draisaitl, Connor [McDavid], [Cale] Makar, this is kinda the next wave of guys. And obviously we still have so many great players — and Sid and Ovie lead the way as two the best of all time — that are getting later in their careers. I think when you have best-on-best hockey, you get all those players together. It’s really special. We don’t really get that. Getting to play for your country, we know how rare that is.” [Sportsnet]

• Off to the Frozen Four with a lineup full of future NHL talent, the expectations are sky high for the Michigan Wolverines. []

• The Flames will be without Sean Monahan as the forward needs surgery to repair the labrum in his right hip. He’s expected to be ready for training camp in September. []

• Tuukka Rask on why he ultimately made the decision to retire: “It couldn’t hold the everyday grind — practicing and playing. That’s what I found out pretty quickly. I felt really good during the rehab. I was skating, started twice a week, going three times a week, four times a week and it was fine. But I was by myself or with the coach with one guy shooting so it’s a little different from live action in a game or practice. And then playing that Anaheim game, I kind of stretched and tweaked my groin and hip a little bit and it just kept aggravating even more. And then it was kind of time to be honest with yourself.” [NBC Sports Boston]

• What does the playoff picture look like right now for the Golden Knights? [Sin Bin Vegas]

• Don’t let the dinosaurs convince you otherwise. The NHL needs more players like Trevor Zegras. [The Hockey News]

• A look at Darnell Nurse and examining how good he is as part of the Oilers’ defense. [Oilers Nation]

• Could Alex Goligoski‘s extension in Minnesota mean Bill Guerin has some plans for his blue line? [Zone Coverage]

• Was the Tomas Tatar signing a bad one by the Devils? [All About the Jersey]

Erik Haula, Brandon Saad, and Jake DeBrusk will help your fantasy hockey teams this week. [NBC Sports Edge]


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

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.