You couldn’t blame Mike Yeo for smiling so much on Monday.
At the introductory presser for Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the Minnesota Wild head coach was asked what plans he had for his two newest players.
The question elicited a big grin.
“I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it already — that’s the fun part of the job,” Yeo explained. “We’ve all come in for this rookie camp and it’s the first time the coaches have been in the same room.
“We’ve all started drawing up our line combos and power play setups. There’s a lot of time between now and training camp, but the excitement and ideas of what you can do with these two guys in the lineup is there.”
The most obvious plan was to get Parise on a line with All-Star center and team captain Mikko Koivu — something Parise mentioned in today’s presser.
“[Koivu’s] arguably one of the best two-way centers in the game. I always thought that he and I would play well together. No dropping hints or anything,” Parise said, laughing. “He’s a type of player I would play well with. I think we play a similar north-south hard game.”
Yeo later told Mike Russo of the Star-Tribune that, if camp started tomorrow, Parise would indeed be on a line with Koivu and Dany Heatley.
In the same context — if training camp started tomorrow — Yeo said Suter would be paired with Jared Spurgeon, the 22-year-old rearguard that played in a career-high 70 games last year, leading all Wild defensemen in scoring with 23 point.
Spurgeon finished fifth among all Wild skaters in assists (20) and fourth in power play points, with 12, so it stands to reason he and Suter could see a lot of time together on the man advantage as well.
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.
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.