Ilya Samsonov, Strome, Kubalik among RFAs to not get qualifying offers

NHL Free Agendy
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The Washington Capitals could be plotting a significant overhaul to their goalie situation this offseason.

Just a couple of days after trading Vitek Vanecek to the New Jersey Devils, the Capitals decided on Monday to not extend a qualifying offer to restricted free agent goalie Ilya Samsonov before the deadline to do so, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent on Wednessday.

Samsonov is one of the most prominent players to not receive a qualifying offer before Monday’s 5 p.m. ET deadline.

The Capitals could still bring him back at a rate lower than the qualifying offer or arbitration case would have been, but it also opens the door for the Capitals to make a bold move in free agency with a veteran like Darcy Kuemper or Jack Campbell. Goaltending has been one of the big Achilles Heels for the Capitals the past two years and they seem to be going in a different direction.

Chicago’s rebuild continues

The Chicago Blackhawks are not messing around with this rebuild. After trading Alex DeBrincat and Kirby Dach at the NHL draft (and Marc-Andre Fleury and Brandon Hagel at the NHL trade deadline), the Blackhawks did not extend qualifying offers to veteran forwards Dominik Kubalik or Dylan Strome on Monday.

The decision with Kubalik is not a huge surprise as he would have required a $4 million qualifying offer and had a strong arbitration case. That is money the Blackhawks probably did not want to spend on a one-dimensional scorer that really has not been a great goal scorer since his rookie season.

Not-tendering a qualifying offer to Strome is a little more surprising. He has been a good player since joining the Blackhawks and will probably have a strong market in free agency.

In the end, an already thin Chicago roster gets even thinner.

Penguins choose Kasperi Kapanen over Danton Heinen

The Penguins had two big decisions to make regarding Kasperi Kapanen and Danton Heinen, and in the end decided to extend a qualifying offer to Kapanen while allowing Heinen to become an unrestricted free agent.

Heinen, having scored 18 goals a year ago, would have had a very strong arbitration case and probably could have earned a larger contract than the cap-strapped Penguins want to commit.

Kapanen has been a bit of a disappointment since arriving in Pittsburgh, but did have a strong finish to the regular season and a strong playoff showing.

Toronto’s Ondrej Kase among other notable players to not receive overs

• Kase was a really strong bargain signing for the Maple Leafs in 2021-22, scoring 14 goals in 50 games. But the Maple Leafs are moving on as they desperately need to create some salary cap space to address their goalie situation.

• The Colorado Avalanche did not extend an offer to Nicolas Aube-Kubel. He scored 11 goals and 11 assists in 67 games for the team.

• The Los Angeles Kings did not extend a qualifying offer to Brenden Lemieux.

• The Winnipeg Jets did not extend an offer to forward Evgeny Svechnikov.

Sonny Milano and Sam Steel did not receive offers from the Anaheim Ducks.

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    Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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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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    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.

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    Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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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.

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    All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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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.