No more waiting: Lightning sign Steven Stamkos to five-year, $37.5 million deal

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If you’ve been sweating things out all summer waiting to see what happens with Lightning superstar restricted free agent Steve Stamkos, your wait is over.

Tampa Bay announced they’ve signed Stamkos to a five-year contract to stick around with the fast-rising Lightning. The Sporting News’ Craig Custance tweets that the deal is worth $7.5 million per year against the cap bringing the total worth of the contract to $37.5 million. The rumors that swirled around the deal the two sides were working on proved to be true as the final amount of the deal was what was being floated in reports.

What proved to be totally unfounded were the trade rumors and potential offer sheets that were coming Stamkos’ way if the Lightning and GM Steve Yzerman kept taking their time getting a deal done. Yzerman had this to say about the deal in the team’s press release.

“Steven is extremely important to this franchise and is part of the foundation of our hockey team,” Yzerman said.  “We are very pleased to have him signed and look forward to seeing him in a Lightning uniform for years to come.”

Yzerman should be excited about keeping Stamkos in Tampa. Stamkos has scored 96 goals over the last two seasons and proved to be MVP-like in his play the first half of this season helping keep the Lightning afloat as the team adjusted to new coach Guy Boucher’s system. Stamkos’ ability to score seemingly at will on the power play from the face off circles helped further establish his star power and credibility after tying for the Rocket Richard Trophy two seasons ago scoring 51 goals. Scoring 45 goals this past year and breaking the 90 point barrier for the second year in a row have proven what an important player he is for the Lightning and why he’s their go-to guy up the middle now.

While Stamkos is now one of the premiere stars in the NHL, he managed to cut the Lightning a bit of a break in signing his new deal. Other NHL superstars Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby took larger and/or longer deals than Stamkos did when their entry level deals expired.

Ovechkin signed a 13-year, $124 million deal with Washington while Crosby signed a five-year $43 million deal. You can argue players worth all you’d like, but Tampa getting Stamkos locked up for less than either of those players is a major win for the team. After all, it’s not as if Stamkos is going poor here either.

According to CapGeek, Stamkos’ deal leaves Tampa Bay under the salary cap by more than $7 million and they’ve got one more RFA left to sign in Teddy Purcell. Looks like Yzerman is doing just fine with his cap management skills. Stamkos joins Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier as the highest paid players on the team and his deal is still dwarfed by the one Lecavalier signed back in 2009 that goes for 11 years and $85 million.

It’s just further proof that getting Stamkos locked up to the deal he got today is huge for the team and a sign of the times under a new regime in Tampa Bay.

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.