Could Stuart be on his way back to San Jose?

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Interesting piece today from CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz on a name that’s been linked to the Sharks in recent months: Brad Stuart.

Stuart, 32, is a soon-to-be-UFA that’s spent the last four seasons in Detroit — but never lost touch with his San Jose roots. He began his career with the Sharks in 1999-2000, played there for five years (before being part of the Joe Thornton deal) and still maintains residence in the Bay Area, which is where his wife and three kids live year-round.

There’s also this, from ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun:

Veteran top-four blueliner Brad Stuart will also be an unrestricted free agent July 1. There has been talk that he might want to return to the West Coast due to family reasons (he still has a home in San Jose), but Detroit is keeping the door open to re-sign him if he chooses to return.

“I told Stuey, ‘Go home, take a month with your family’; told his agent I would talk to him prior to the draft,’’ Holland said.

My guess is, if the San Jose Sharks have any interest in bringing back Stuart — he began his career there — and they make him a reasonable offer, he could be in San Jose next season.

Kurz goes on to point out Stuart-to-San-Jose makes a lot of sense on the ice as well:

— He’s a top four guy and the Sharks need a top-four defenseman. Douglas Murray “doesn’t look like he can keep up” anymore and Jason Demers hasn’t proven himself as a bonafide NHLer. Veterans Jim Vandermeer and Colin White are both UFAs and might not be retained.

— So how does a projected top four of Stuart, Dan Boyle, Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic sound? (The answer: Above-average, though not especially young. Vlasic is 25, Burns is 27, Stuart is 33 in November and Boyle is 36 in July.)

The x-factor in this, as it often is, will be money. The Sharks have approximately $9 million in available cap space; Stuart is coming off a deal that paid $3.75 million annually; San Jose already has $19.4 million committed to its blueline for 2012-13.

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.