Matty Beniers out for Kraken until All-Star break

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - JANUARY 25: Matty Beniers #10 of the Seattle Kraken skates against Dakota Joshua #81 of the Vancouver Canucks during the first period at Climate Pledge Arena on January 25, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/G

The Seattle Kraken will be without rookie center Matty Beniers for the final two games before the All-Star break.

Head coach Dave Hakstol confirmed after the team's morning skate on Friday that Beniers would not play tonight against the Calgary Flames or in Saturday's game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"I know that he won't be available for our games today or tomorrow," Hakstol said. "You can put whatever label you want in terms of day-to-day, but he won't be available today and tomorrow for all of our games."

Vancouver defenseman Tyler Myers blindsided Beniers from behind just over five minutes into the second period on Wednesday's 6-1 win over the Canucks.. Beniers was looking at teammate Jamie Oleksiak, who controlled the puck near the blue line. Beniers appeared to have his head bounce on the ice as Myers' check drew an interference penalty.

"I thought the hit on Matty was garbage. Didn't like it at all," Hakstol said of Myers in an interview with 93.3 KJR-FM on Thursday evening.

Hakstol wouldn't say whether the injury would impact Beniers' availability for next week's All-Star game. Beniers is the lone representative of the Kraken selected to the game.

The Kraken recalled forward Max McCormick from AHL Coachella Valley on Friday to provide additional depth. Defenseman Justin Schultz was placed on injured reserve to clear a spot for McCormick. Schultz has missed the last three games after being injured on January 17 in Edmonton against the Oilers. Schultz's status was deemed week-to-week before being placed on injured reserve.

McCormick was in transit to Seattle on Friday morning and not on the ice with the team for morning skate. Hakstol said McCormick would be available to play, but didn't say whether he or John Hayden will fill the final spot in the forward lineup against Calgary.

"(McCormick) can go in the lineup any time," Hakstol said. "We know that. He did it for us last year. He's reliable. He's a good pro. He's played in this league. He's been around the game a long time. So he knows exactly what he is. And if he's in the lineup tonight, he'll go out and do the things that he does. He's a reliable, competitive player."

McCormick played in 10 games for the Kraken last season without recording a point. He has 18 goals and 24 assists in 38 games played for the Firebirds this year. His 42 points is tied with Jesper Froden and Andrew Poturalski for most on the team.

Ryan Donato took Beniers' spot at center between André Burakovsky and Jordan Eberle during the team's skate on Friday. Donato has played a handful of games at center for the Kraken this season and will seemingly fill in for Beniers for at Friday's game against the Flames.

"Early on it was a big adjustment, the first few games and he had some struggles," Hakstol said of Donato at center. "I felt like the last game or two that he played there he was comfortable. He was taking care of the game defensively first, and that's what we want him to do tonight." 

Donato's previous games at center came on the fourth line with Daniel Sprong and Brandon Tanev as Donato and Morgan Geekie rotated in and out of the lineup at center when the team was fully healthy. Donato's typical spot is on the wing with the center role being new territory.

Against the Flames, Hakstol said Donato's going to have to be good in a few different areas.

"We want him to look comfortable there," Hakstol said. "He's going to have to help us not only in defending and playing well defensively, but the biggest piece that he's going to have to help us with tonight is getting out of the zone. If we're trying to come up the wall all night long, it's going to be a long night, right? So you got to have options available to be able to come up the middle of the rank and your center men are key in that role. So we're comfortable that he can go and do that."

Lines at Morning Skate on Friday:

Jared McCann - Alex Wennberg - Brandon Tanev
André Burakovsky - Ryan Donato - Jordan Eberle
Eeli Tolvanen - Yanni Gourde - Oliver Bjorkstrand
Daniel Sprong - Morgan Geekie - John Hayden

Vince Dunn - Adam Larsson
Jamie Oleksiak - Will Borgen
Carson Soucy - Cale Fleury

Martin Jones
Philipp Grubauer

DNPs: Matty Beniers, Jaden Schwartz.
IR: Justin Schultz, Chris Driedger, Joonas Donskoi