With a crowded crease the Flyers opt to put Michael Leighton on waivers

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Last year we saw Michael Leighton rise out of obscurity to take control of the Flyers goaltending job after Ray Emery went down with a season-ending injury. Leighton battled injuries himself but seized control of the starting job once again in the playoffs and led the Flyers to the Stanley Cup finals, a feat that earned him a new two-year contract with the Flyers.

After going down with a back injury in training camp and opening the door for Sergei Bobrovsky to steal a part-time starting job with the Flyers, Leighton is now the odd man out in Philly as the team has placed him on waivers. While Bobrovsky was the man who carried the Flyers for the first two months of the season, it’s been Brian Boucher who has done his part to keep things steady in goal. With that two headed attack and the Flyers being hard up against the cap, something had to give. Leighton’s two-year deal comes with a cap hit of $1.55 million and the Flyers could certainly use the flexibility.

Leighton’s been down this road before having been waived by the Carolina Hurricanes last season before being picked up by Philadelphia and becoming one of their heroes last year. With Tampa Bay having made a move already trading for Dwayne Roloson, the market for a useful goaltender is a bit thin.

If Leighton clears waivers he’ll likely head to the AHL and join Adirondack and give the Flyers the salary freedom they’re looking for that way. If there’s a team that could think about making a claim on Leighton it’s the Islanders. Yes, they traded away Roloson to Tampa Bay but unless they figure Nathan Lawson is the guy they can bank on to backup the fragile Rick DiPietro, it might not be a bad fit.

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.