As we mentioned when discussing the latest round of Brad Richards trade rumors, the Board of Governors meetings are coming up on Monday and Tuesday in Florida so the gossip is starting to gear up a bit today.
One team that might look to tweak its roster are the mediocre but occasionally promising Ottawa Senators. At the moment, Ottawa is stuck outside the Eastern Conference playoff picture. They’re in a cluster with the Carolina Hurricanes and Buffalo Sabres for ninth place, which is promising until you realize the fact that the eight place team is between six and seven points ahead of that bubble group.
Since improving the overall talent level seems like a bit of a stretch at this point, the Senators would instead like to achieve the more reasonable goal of improving their toughness on the blueline.
The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports that GM Bryan Murray might look to trade for Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa to accomplish that.
Vancouver GM Mike Gillis has been trying to deal D Kevin Bieksa for a while (insert denial here) and will sooner or later.
However, the Canucks are being targeted by a lot of teams looking for blue-line help.
They’ve got both Bieksa (making $3.5 million US), who’s set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and D Keith Ballard ($4.2 million), who has been a healthy scratch at various times this season.
Bieksa would be a better fit in Ottawa and the Senators have liked him for a long time.
“He’s got grit and he’d make it a little tougher for guys around the net. He’s dirty and that’s the kind of player Ottawa needs,” said the executive. “The Canucks are going for a Stanley Cup this year, they have to make sure Sami Salo is on track to return.”
Naturally, we’ll keep you abreast of the scuttlebutt, even if it ends up being more about general managers flirting with ideas than actually accomplishing anything tangible.
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.
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.