The PHT Nightcap: Thursday, September 2nd

Even in the depressingly hockey-free summer, we expect to be a productive bunch here at Pro Hockey Talk. Sometimes it might be difficult to follow our pace. We understand that. For that reason, whenever we can, we’ll put all of the day’s stories in one convenient post called the PHT Nightcap. Enjoy, hockey fans.

Mario Lemieux will receive the Order of Canada – If there’s one hockey player I will always struggle to be objective about, that person is Super Mario. I’ll go ahead and refrain from gushing here, though.

Oilers’ big three rookies give Edmonton hope for the future – Martin Gerber, Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, Nikolai Khabibulin and Devan Dubnyk do not, though.

Looking at Roberto Luongo’s contract after NHL ultimatum – Oh, but the league denied the ultimatum. Hmmm …

Sharks sign goalie Antti Niemi – Not a well-kept secret, but will it be a wise decision?

NHL gives Chris Pronger’s contract the “thumbs up” – Apparently contracts that fail to exploit a loophole and explode in a GM’s face like one of Wile E. Coyotes’ traps are A-OK with the league.

The league makes waves with social media – So why won’t Gary Bettman be friends with me on Facebook, then? (Oh, because I mock him on occasion? Oh, OK.)

Jordan Staal will miss training camp – That’s some bad news, but the Penguins will probably be satisfied if he plays as many of the 82 games that matter as possible.

Marc Savard’s agent threatens to sue if the league voids his contract– Gotta love the old law suit threat.

2010 Lester Patrick Award winners announced

Canadiens re-sign Carey Price – Pun fans, start your “Price is Right” engines.

Nyjer Morgan was fighting hockey players before he fought minor leaguers – The “hockey players are tougher” crowd will enjoy this.

NHLPA doesn’t even vote to approve or reject Donald Fehr as their leader – Oh, players association. You silly unproductive geese.

How Niittymaki and Greiss feel about Niemi signing – Cliff’s Notes version: Niittymaki is OK and Greiss is a sad panda.

Colorado re-signs Chris Stewart – Pretty solid signing for both sides.

Ken Hitchcock gets the hero treatment for being kind of a hero.

Predators give Boots Del Baggio the boot – This is great news for Nashville fans and the franchise as a whole.

New Blue Jackets coach thinks he can turn things around for Steve Mason, Nikita Filatov – Columbus is definitely banking on the whole “internal improvement” thing.

Sean Avery wants to turn things around next year – He didn’t make nearly enough offensive jokes last season. Slacker.

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    Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk 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.

    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

    Rasmus Sandin
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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.