Sather: Talent, not contracts, will decide Rangers roster

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Thumbnail image for waderedden1.jpgOne NHL GM that has his hands full with roster wrangling during training camp is the Rangers Glen Sather. Sather, often the focus of derision from Rangers fans and haters alike, is under the gun to make the right decision(s) to get the Rangers under the salary cap before the season starts. While the leading suspect to help get the Rangers under the cap (which they’re over by more than $4 million right now) is Wade Redden, Sather says that making decisions based on money isn’t how they’re going to handle training camp. Andrew Gross of Rangers Rants got the lowdown from Sather.

On whether decisions are based on talent/fit/salary:
“I’d say talent and fit, I don’t think salary should have a big distinction on whether a guy makes a hockey team or not.”

On whether he’s confident about cutting salary:
“Yeah, I’m sure we’ll be able to do that. There’s lots of ways to do it.”

On whether he’s looking for deals:
“Well it depends what happens in the next couple of weeks. Nobody’s making any phone calls right now. I shouldn’t say nobody. There have been a couple of calls before camp started. People have offered some good players, they’re willing to give up draft picks to get out of their contracts. But I want to see what our kids do here first before we do anything. See how they look in games, give them a chance to perform under some pressure. There’s a big difference between Traverse City and coming here. We’ve only had one scrimmage. Things have a way of balancing themselves out.”

Cutting through the talk here, Sather isn’t going to let money dictate decisions and no one is calling him about deals at the moment and he wants to see what the rookies and new guys will do in camp before making a move. In other words, when time sneaks up on him he’ll find a way come hell or high water to get under the cap.

It’s not really earth-shattering news, but it does open up the possibility that if Redden has a great camp that he’ll find a way to stay in New York instead of being shuttled off to the AHL and Hartford. Looking at the Rangers salary cap situation on CapGeek, sending Redden to the AHL is the quick fix solution to get under the cap but if he’s able to produce and play like an All-Star again, the Rangers’ cap solutions get trickier.

Dumping Redden in the AHL is also an extremely expensive move to make as Redden will still make the same money whether he plays in Manhattan or Hartford. If the Rangers are willing to stow him away in the AHL, that’s owner James Dolan’s financial headache to manage.

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

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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.