PHT Morning Skate: Theo goes from friend to foe

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

The Florida Panthers’ morning skate might just change things, but George Richards reports that Jose Theodore looks primed to start for the Cats, who could clinch a playoff spot and the Southeast Division title with a point or more. If that isn’t juicy enough, note that Theo is just two seasons removed from being a Washington Capitals goalie – the team he’s facing tonight. (On Frozen Pond)

Vincent Damphousse backhanded the Montreal Canadiens’ GM job chase off of his to-do list. (The Canadian Press)

Meanwhile, the Habs are contacting other possible general manager candidates, such as Sidney Crosby’s agent Pat Brisson. (TSN)

After watching another shaky outing from Marty Turco, the Boston Bruins might as well shuffle out the scrubs in net, right? Feel free to discuss Antonin Khudobin’s status as a scrub or not in the comments, as Barbara Matson reports that he might be the next guy to get a start in their goalie roulette. (Bruins blog)

Dale Hunter hopes that the Capitals took a little lesson from the Buffalo Sabres’ desperate game-tying goal from Tuesday. (CSNWashington.com)

Mike Bossy said that he “sees a little of himself” in Steven Stamkos. I’m guessing it has something to do with scoring buckets of goals. (Montreal Gazette)

The Hockey News’ Ryan Kennedy believes that a high draft pick and a plentiful war chest of money for a serviceable goalie – Tomas Vokoun, anyone? – gives the Toronto Maple Leafs some reason for optimism in the future. (The Hockey News via Puck Daddy)

Douglas Murray is chomping at the bit to return for the San Jose Sharks. (CSNBayArea.com)

Jeremy Roenick believes that the Vancouver Canucks have quietly become the cream of the crop in the Western Conference. (The Word According to JR)

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.