After surprising much of the hockey world with a rousing 4-0-1 start, reality is slapping the poorly designed Toronto Maple Leafs in constant, embarrassing swipes. They’ve gone a pitiful 1-7-2 since earning nine out of a possible 10 points in the first five games of the season, scoring only 15 goals in that 10-game stretch of futility. Only the New Jersey Devils scored less (29) goals than the Leafs (32) so far this season.
Some might think it’s a sign that Brian Burke & Co. are pushing the panic button, but however you slice it, there is big news out of Toronto. After flopping a bit during the preseason and finding himself demoted for the first month-plus of the 2010-11 season, 2009 first round draft pick Nazem Kadri is back with the team after being recalled with Keith Aulie.
Those two prospects were recalled while Korbinian Holzer and Christian Hanson were sent to the minors, according to TSN.
When you play in a hockey-crazed market like Toronto, you have to expect some scrutiny … especially when you’re a rare first round pick in an era in which the team hasn’t made the playoffs since before the lockout. That’s the situation Kadri finds himself in; every misstep will be over-analyzed as if the young pivot is the Prime Minister of Hockey.
To his credit, Kadri has been doing well in the minors. He’s averaging a point per game with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, with five goals and nine assists for 14 points in 14 games.
Of course, it’s often a big jump from the AHL to the NHL and many wonder if this move will stunt the prospect’s growth. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see, as Kadri will make his 2010-11 NHL premiere tomorrow night against the Vancouver Canucks.
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.
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.
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.
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.