While the Kings were busy taking care of business on the ice against the Columbus Blue Jackets, they were also busy off the ice taking care of one of their cornerstone defensemen.
Tonight, the Kings announced they’ve signed defenseman Jack Johnson to a seven-year contract extension, a deal reportedly worth $30.5 million, good for a cap hit of about $4.3 million per season. Johnson was one of three potential restricted free agents the Kings would have to negotiate with after this season (Drew Doughty and Wayne Simmonds being the others). With this deal in place, GM Dean Lombardi is making his off-season a little less stressful.
Johnson over his Kings career has been a steady, young defenseman learning on the job. While he’s not putting up the Norris-worthy numbers that Doughty is, he’s still very good. Johnson was a member of the 2010 silver medal-winning U.S. Olympic team in Vancouver. Johnson has been one of the young superstars on the Kings roster along with Doughty and Anze Kopitar and Wayne Simmonds. Getting Johnson taken care of for a mostly reasonable cost is a great move for Lombardi and the Kings.
Of course, you can debate whether or not Johnson is worth that much in general until you’re blue in the face. Looking at his career, Johnson’s plus/minus rating is abysmal -62 over 241 games. Granted, much of that time has come on non-playoff teams, but this season he’s a -5 overall with four goals and 27 assists. He’s on a pace to have a career-high points season but coming in with a positive plus/minus would be a first in his career. Being a contributor on the power play is great, but if he’s unable to help stop opponents at even strength, it detracts from his game in a very noticeable way. For now, however, getting Johnson locked up long term makes all the sense in the world for the young and up and coming Kings.
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.