Trade: Golden Knights send Max Pacioretty to Hurricanes in salary dump

Max Pacioretty trade
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The Vegas Golden Knights revolving door of players continued to spin on Wednesday when they traded veteran forward Max Pacioretty to the Carolina Hurricanes.

And with that, the Hurricanes continued to load up their roster on the opening day of free agency.

The full deal will send Pacioretty and Dylan Coghlan to the Hurricanes in exchange for future considerations. That is it. Nothing going back to Vegas in return.

The key to this deal for Vegas — and the only key to this deal — is dumping the remaining year of Pacioretty’s contract ($7 million salary cap hit) to get under the cap. It is a familiar cycle for the Golden Knights as they keep adding big-name players in trade and free agency and then having to jettison other players to make it all work. Sometimes (in the case of Pacioretty and Marc-Andre Fleury) they have to jettison them for, quite literally, nothing.

[Related: 2022 NHL Free Agency Tracker]

When healthy Pacioretty is still an outstanding player and has scored at a point-per-game (and 40-goal pace per 82 games) the past two seasons. If Carolina had a weakness on their roster the past couple of years it has been not having enough finishers that can turn all of their possession domination into goals. They have a lot of really good players, and a team where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, but they definitely had a need for another difference-making forward.

They not only got one, they did not have to give up anything to get it.

It is Carolina’s second big trade of the deal, having also acquired defenseman Brent Burns in a trade with the San Jose Sharks.

The Hurricanes also signed Ondrej Kase to a one-year contract, while allowing Vincent Trocheck to leave in free agency to the New York Rangers. It is likely that Nino Neiderreiter is also leaving in free agency.

Those departures seem pretty insignificant when you consider the boost that Pacioretty can provide.

Carolina still has one of the best rosters in the league and managed to get a lot more lethal offensively with Pacioretty and Burns added to the mix.

As for Vegas, this is tough and it speaks to the self-inflicted salary cap headaches it constantly creates for itself by seemingly having no long-term vision beyond “sign or trade for the biggest name available.”

Coming off of a bitterly disappointing season where they missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in franchise history, this is not an encouraging start to the offseason.

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.

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

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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

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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.