Wilson: Sharks don’t believe in rebuilding, want to ‘reset on the fly’

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With a number of key players ready to hit free agency at the end of next season — Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Dan Boyle, Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture — San Jose GM Doug Wilson could go a number of directions with his club’s future.

One direction he won’t go, though, is the way of a rebuild.

“We’re not a team that’s going to miss the playoffs for five or seven years and go into a rebuild,” Wilson told CSN Bay Area. “We don’t believe in that.

“We want to reset on the fly, and it only works when you have players that understand what it is we’re trying to accomplish, and participate in it.”

To that end, Wilson has already begun contract extension talks with Couture, a pending RFA likely to get a hefty raise on his two-year, $5.75 million deal that expires next July.

The decision to lock up Couture now is a no-brainer.

The 24-year-old emerged as arguably the club’s top player in 2013, a guy head coach Todd McLellan said was “driving the bus” down the stretch and through the playoffs.

(According to reports from CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz and CBC’s Elliotte Friedman, sounds as though San Jose could extend Pavelski this summer as well.)

This does beg a question, though: What becomes of the guys that used to drive the bus?

Thornton and Marleau will be 35 and 34, respectively, when their deals expire at the end of 2013-14 (both have full no-movement clauses, according to Capgeek.)

Boyle will be 38, with a modified NTC where he can select eight teams he won’t accept a trade to.

If Wilson’s goal is to ‘reset on the fly,’ dealing any of these three could be in play.

Center depth is hard to come by in the NHL, and the Sharks have it in spades with Couture, Thornton, Marleau and 2012 first-rounder Tomas Hertl, who’s expected to challenge for a roster spot next season.

Boyle’s no stranger to trade rumors, as his name made the rounds at this year’s deadline.

Finally, there’s Wilson’s history.

He’s remade the Sharks on several occasions already by making “hockey trades” — Michalek/Cheechoo-for-Heatley, Setoguchi/Coyle-for-Burns, Heatley-for-Havlat — rather than trying to stockpile picks.

This year he did more of the same, moving out Ryane Clowe, Michal Handzus and Douglas Murray at the deadline while bringing in Scott Hannan and Raffi Torres.

In the end, though, Wilson says his decisions moving forward are tied to two things — financial flexibility, and players who “get” what the Sharks are doing.

“We have a lot of flexibility going forward. We have lots of flexibility in two years, which ties into some of the players [Pavelski, Couture] that you’re asking about us signing this summer,” he explained.

“We’ve been fortunate to have players that understand what we’re trying to accomplish.”

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.