Lightning setting their eyes on Arron Asham?

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arronasham1.jpgThe “Summer of Stevie” continues to churn along in Tampa Bay. After obtaining Simon Gagne from the Philadelphia Flyers, speculation in Tampa Bay has turned towards another important player from Philadelphia’s run to the Stanley Cup finals last year in rugged forward Arron Asham.

The team, apparently, has inquired about free agent Arron Asham. Agent Jarrett Bousquet said he has spoken to Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman, though he added he hasn’t spoken to Yzerman in about a week and characterized Tampa Bay’s interest only as “mild.”

 The level of the Lightning’s interest is difficult to pinpoint. The team, under Yzerman, has adopted a policy of not commenting on potential player acquisitions, and Yzerman has been busy the past week or so with the acquisition of Simon Gagne in trade from the Flyers and the signing of two assistant coaches. A third assistant, by the way, is expected to be signed by the end of the week.

Acquiring Asham in Tampa would make sense especially after both Yzerman and Guy Boucher were quoted saying that team toughness is needed and not necessarily from just one player that makes it his job doing so. Asham is a guy that showed some ability to both play well on a line with skilled guys as well as stepping up to protect them when called for.

After the team lost noted pugilist Zenon Konopka to the Islanders in free agency, they’re basically left with Nate Thompson as the only real enforcer on the team. Adding more intensity with Asham would do the Lightning some good and save some younger players like Steven Stamkos and Teddy Purcell some trouble with bullies.

Blackhawks F Katchouk will be sidelined by ankle sprain

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CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced Sunday.

The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.

Lightning donate $2 million to Hurricane Ian relief efforts

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TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

The NHL team announced that $1 million each will be donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.

“This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Vinik said in a statement released by the team. “In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”

Ian made landfall Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of the Tampa Bay area. The Lightning postponed two home preseason games and moved the club’s training camp to Nashville, Tennessee, during the storm.

Maple Leafs sign defenseman Rasmus Sandin to 2-year deal

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TORONTO — Rasmus Sandin has signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the club announced on Thursday.

The 22-year-old from Sweden was the 29th overall selection in the 2018 draft. Sandin had 16 points in 51 games with Toronto last season. He’s played in 88 career regular-season games, with six goals and 22 assists, and has one goal in five playoff games.

“Got a great set of tools,” fellow defenseman Jake Muzzin said. “With experience, I think they’re only going to get better.”

The signing comes as the Leafs’ blueliners been hit hard by injuries. Muzzin has been dealing with a back issue, and Timothy Liljegren recently had surgery for a hernia.

Toronto then lost Jamie Benn (groin) and Carl Dahlstrom (shoulder) in Wednesday’s 3-0 preseason victory over the Montreal Canadiens, pressing forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Alexander Kerfoot into defensive roles for two periods.