Modano: “One more year? That kind of intrigues me”

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Normal, cubicle-dwelling people often hate to see their heroes/favorite players fade on the ice. For that reason, guys who hang on too long often seem depressing, but what about the guys who don’t want to give it up? Mike Modano probably has a swell existence, yet it’s clear that the concept of a return brings a twinkle to his eye. He admitted at least a passing interest in playing for the Minnesota Wild and acknowledged those feelings to Dallas beat writer Mike Heika.

Even though he admits that the idea is a bit far-fetched.

“You look at things and you wonder what’s the worst thing that could happen?,” Modano said. “I mean, I get in better shape. I don’t know what’s going to happen with the CBA and everything, but I mean, one more year? That kind of intrigues me.”

“I think I’m in la la land or dreamland just thinking about it. You never know how that would work out, but I can’t really see it happening. I think in the back of my mind, I would love to see something work out where I could go back for a year, but I don’t know … I don’t see it … It’s been hard to let go.”

The most logical side would point to his last, injury-plagued season with the Detroit Red Wings (15 points in 40 games, healthy scratches in the playoffs) as evidence enough that he has little left. Still, it’s worth noting that he almost had a point-per-game in the first post-lockout season (77 points in 78 games), so perhaps a prolonged break might allow him to give it one more decent year. Sure, that was seven years ago, but he’s not asking for top-line minutes this time around.

A marketing ploy?

Modano mentioned the Minnesota Wild, but the Dallas Stars would provide a fun opportunity. The Stanley Cup-era teams had the “Grumpy Old Men” line, so what about a 40+ line of Modano, Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney? Yes, the “Well-adjusted, Relatively-Ancient Gentlemen” doesn’t have the same ring to it, but bringing back Modano (and adding Jagr) could be a solid box office hit.

Much like Modano’s own dreams of a return, it’s fun to think about, if nothing else.

Islanders agree to terms with Mathew Barzal on 8-year extension

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Mathew Barzal has agreed to terms with the New York Islanders on an eight-year extension, a move that keeps the franchise’s top forward under contract for the balance of his prime.

The deal is worth $73.2 million with an annual salary cap hit of $9.15 million, according to a person with knowledge of the contract. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not announce terms.

Barzal has led the team in scoring, or been tied for the lead, every season since he became a full-time NHL player in 2017-18. He has 349 points in 411 regular-season and playoff games for the defensively stingy Islanders, who qualified for the postseason three consecutive times before an injury- and virus-altered last year.

“We feel recharged,” Barzal said recently. “We feel like everybody had good summers and worked hard, and we got that excitement back.”

Barzal, now 25, is coming off putting up 59 points in 75 games. The offensive star will now be asked to round out his game.

“I’m a fan because Mat has the ability to raise his game and to be a special player,” general manager Lou Lamoriello told reporters at the team’s practice facility on Long Island. “And now, with this contract and our faith in him, (it) puts that responsibility on him. We’re trusting that. It’s up to him to respond to that.”

Senators goaltender Cam Talbot out 5-7 weeks with injury

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OTTAWA, Ontario — Ottawa Senators goaltender Cam Talbot is expected to be out five to seven weeks with what the team called an upper-body injury.

The Senators initially called Talbot day to day with what they hoped was a minor injury. Instead he’s now expected to miss at least the first month of the NHL season.

Ottawa claimed goalie Magnus Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken upon announcing Talbot’s expected absence. Hellberg, who played for Sweden at the Beijing Olympics could split time with countryman Anton Forsberg while Talbot is out.

The Senators acquired Talbot from Minnesota during the offseason to make him their starter after the Wild opted against bringing him back along with Marc-Andre Fleury. Talbot, 35, had a 2.76 goals-against average and .911 save percentage this season.

Losing Talbot is a blow to the Senators, who also acquired winger Alex DeBrincat from Chicago and signed longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux as part of a move toward contending and ending their playoff drought.

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.