Risk worth reward? Kings have core group locked up long-term

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Playoff success has come to the L.A. Kings over the past two years, so it’s not really a surprise general manager Dean Lombardi has locked up the core of the team for the long term.

A quick scan of Capgeek.com shows seven players from the Kings roster are locked into contracts with three or more years remaining on the term. Last month, Lombardi sided over the contract extension of L.A.’s captain Dustin Brown, who signed an eight-year, $47 million deal.

He joins Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Drew Doughty, Slava Voynov and Jonathan Quick as Kings players on long-term contracts. Of those seven, three will remain in their 20s – their late 20s – when their contracts expire.

All totaled, that is $37.9 million tied up in seven players for next season alone. In 2014-15, Brown’s annual cap hit will actually increase from the $3.175 million of his current contract to $5.875 million when his new deal kicks in.

But their playoff success – a Stanley Cup championship in 2012 and a Western Conference final appearance in 2013 – is the reason Lombardi wanted to keep this group together for more than just one or two winning seasons.

“It wasn’t only building it, but trying to keep it together and then fit it under the cap,” Lombardi told the Canadian Press back on July 18.

“You’re never done. It wasn’t just about becoming a good team. It was doing these type of things so that you could, in the end, build a culture, have an identity.

“You’ve got to really trust the character of your players that they’re inherently competitive and they’re not going to get complacent.

“Whether it’s Doughty or Kopitar or Quick or Richards or Carter and now Browny, I am a 100 per cent that there is not going to be complacency in these kids.”

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.