Devil for life? Elias signs three-year, $16.5 million deal with New Jersey

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One of the most important players in Devils franchise history is sticking around for at least three more seasons.

On Thursday, New Jersey announced it had reached a contract extension with Patrik Elias, ensuring the 16-year veteran — who’s spent his entire career with the Devils — would remain with the club.

“To Lou, all my teammates and Devils fans, I’m excited to sign a new contract and be back with New Jersey,” Elias said in a statement. “This year marks my 17th year with the Devils and it’s very special to be a member of one organization for my entire career.”

The deal is for $16.5 million, according to Chris Johnston of Sportsnet. It carries an average annual cap hit of $5.5 million — slightly down from the $6 million hit from Elias’ previous deal.

(NorthJersey.com’s Tom Gulitti confirms Elias has a full no-movement clause, just like his last deal.)

Elias, 37, is the club’s longest-tenured skater (Marty Brodeur is the longest-tenured player) and holds the franchise record for most points in a season and career game-winning goals.

He’s coming off a solid 2013 campaign — 36 points in 48 games, 18:43 TOI average — but had concerns about re-upping in New Jersey given his seven-year, $42 million deal was set to expire tomorrow.

“It’s special for me to play for one team,” he told the New York Times in mid-April. “It would be special to play here my whole career.

“But I understand the business side.”

Both Devils GM Lou Lamoriello and Elias wanted to keep negotiations silent — there was a gag order in effect throughout contract talks — but it was clear both organization and player wanted to continue the relationship.

The Devils hold Elias in high esteem. In February, head coach Peter DeBoer said he felt the Czech forward was a Hall of Famer.

“I don’t think there is any doubt he’s a Hall of Fame player,” DeBoer told the New Jersey Star-Ledger. “It’s a great luxury to have him on the ice and in the dressing room. He thinks like a coach and he has a world-class player’s skills.

“When you’re building a hockey player, you can’t ask for much more than that.”

As for the financials…

With the move, the Devils now have 19 players signed for next season with around $12 million left under the salary cap.

There is still plenty of work to be done. New deals are still required for RFA forwards Adam Henrique and Jacob Josefson, and the future of UFAs David Clarkson and Marek Zidlicky remains cloudy at best.

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.