PHT Morning Skate: Wright on potentially going No. 1; Letang’s future

shane wright
Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

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.

• Shane Wright on potentially going No. 1 overall to Montreal in tonight’s NHL Draft: “Just walking around he city yesterday, it’s a beautiful city, unbelievable city, here in the facility as well. I really love what they have going. … I want to be part of this. I want to be part of this organization, I want be part of building something special here and I think I can help contribute to that.” [NHL.com]

• Brock Otten of McKeen’s Hockey does a mock draft of the first two rounds. [NBC Sports Edge]

• Cutter Gauthier could be the next big thing coming out of the state of Arizona. [Sportsnet]

• The NHL released the 2022-23 schedule on Wednesday. The Avalanche will raise their Stanley Cup banner on Oct. 12 before they play the Blackhawks. [PHT]

• Penguins GM Ron Hextall sounds pretty confident that Kris Letang will sign an extension. A new deal for Evgeni Malkin remains up in the air. [Pensburgh]

• Which direction could Ducks GM Pat Verbeek go in the first round of his first NHL Draft in charge? [Crashing the Pond]

[NHL Mock Draft: Wright, Slafkovský, Cooley top 2022 class]

• Émilie Castonguay on more and more women being hired in NHL front offices: “I think it’s just the league trending in the right direction. They’re hiring very competent people and that’s what I’ve said from the beginning — there are competent women in this industry and they deserve a chance to be in these positions.” [Pass it to Bulis]

Nicklas Backstrom, recovering from hip surgery, intends to play next season but there is no timeline for when he might return. [NBC Sports Washington]

• On the partnership between George McPhee and Kelly McCrimmon in running the Golden Knights: “Any credit given to the organization for the epic build-out from the Expansion Draft belongs to both McCrimmon and McPhee. While any critique of the changes that have been made since belongs to both as well.” [Sin Bin Vegas]

• How can Calder Trophy winner Moritz Seider build off his NHL rookie season? [Winging it in Motown]

• Why the Maple Leafs should play it “safe” with their first pick. [The Leafs Nation]

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

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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.