Jones: I’ll respect whatever Preds decide, even sending me back to junior

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Many figured Seth Jones’ last game in a WHL Portland jersey was the 2013 Memorial Cup final, when his Winterhawks fell to the eventual champion Halifax Mooseheads.

But on Monday, he left the door open for a possible return.

“It’s up to the [Nashville] coaching staff at the end of the day how much ice time I get and how they want to develop me in the league,” Jones told the Globe and Mail. “I’ll respect the decision that they make, whatever that may be, whether it’s 20 minutes or 12, or maybe even going back to Portland to develop for another year.”

Because Jones is only 18 — he doesn’t turn 19 ’til October — he’s ineligible to play for Nashville’s AHL affiliate in Milwaukee next season (because of the AHL-CHL agreement).

That means it’s one of two options: Play with the Preds, or head back to junior.

The former is the most likely scenario. At 6-foot-4, 206 pounds, Jones has the size and skating ability to play defense at the NHL level.

That said, playing defense at the NHL level as a teenager is no easy go.

None of the first-round defensemen from 2012 played in the NHL last season. Columbus’ Ryan Murray likely would’ve if not for a shoulder injury, while Minnesota’s Mathew Dumba made the team out of camp, but never saw game action.

Adam Larsson, the first defenseman off the board in 2011, played 65 games as an 18-year-old for the Devils.

Cam Fowler did it in 2010 and Victor Hedman in 2009. In 2008, a trio of 18-year-olds debuted — Drew Doughty (No. 2 overall), Zach Bogosian (No. 3) and Luke Schenn (No. 5).

So, it does happen. Just not all that often.

It’ll be interesting to see now the Jones situation plays out. There’s definitely a spot for him in Nashville — GM David Poile said he expects Jones to start the season in the NHL — and the Preds defense isn’t exactly an impenetrable wall. While the top three of Shea Weber, Kevin Klein and Roman Josi is set, the likes of Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm and Victory Bartley are hardly proven entities.

As for Jones, he just wants to make the team.

“I’m going to go and do my best to prepare myself physically and mentally for training camp and prove to the (coaching) staff and the organization that I can make the team,” he said. “Hopefully, I can come in and try to make an impact as much as I can.”

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.