Five Canadians to watch at the World Juniors

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Team Canada announced its 22-man roster for the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship today. Here are five players to watch, starting Dec. 26 when Canada plays Finland in Edmonton.

Dougie Hamilton (D) – Also known as the guy the Bruins drafted with the second of the two first-round picks the Leafs sent to Boston for Phil Kessel. Hamilton’s been tearing up the OHL with the Niagara Ice Dogs – the 6-foot-4, 193-pound defenseman has 45 points in 30 games.

Ryan Murray (D) – One of two undrafted players to make the cut (the other being forward Tanner Pearson), Murray is the No. 4 prospect in the 2012 draft, according to International Scouting Services. Due to a high-ankle sprain, the 18-year-old has only played 11 games this season for the WHL’s Everett Silvertips.

Jaden Schwartz (F) – The only NCAA player on the team, Schwartz (Colorado College) was drafted 14th overall by St. Louis in 2010. One of four returning members to the squad, the 19-year-old will hope to have a better experience than last year when he fractured his ankle in the second game of the tournament. It’s sure to be an emotional time for Schwartz. His sister, Mandi, a former Yale hockey player, passed away from cancer in April. “She’s on my mind every day,” he said Saturday. “You can’t stop thinking about her. She was there for me so much. She inspires me every day still. Not a day goes by when I don’t think about here. Everything I do is for her.”

Brendan Gallagher (F) – Though small in stature, Gallagher managed to turn a lot of heads at Montreal’s training camp. The Habs drafted the Vancouver Giants (WHL) winger with the 147th overall pick in 2010. “He’s not a big player but has a big heart,” Canadiens coach Jacques Martin said. “He goes to the net, he’s not afraid and has good hands.” Of note, Gallagher’s junior coach, Don Hay, is also Team Canada’s coach.

Jonathan Huberdeau (F) – Taken third overall in June by the Florida Panthers, Huberdeau (Saint John, QMJHL) is still recovering from a broken foot that he suffered in early November. Obviously management is optimistic he’ll be able to play or they wouldn’t have kept him. Huberdeau had 28 points in 13 games for the Sea Dogs before getting injured.

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.