Futures unclear for Thornton, Marleau, and Boyle

8 Comments

As soon as the San Jose Sharks got centers Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski locked up through 2018-19, attention immediately turned to the future of veteran center Joe Thornton.

Thornton has one year left on his contract before he can become an unrestricted free agent. The former Hart Trophy winner is still a very effective player who averages almost a point per game; however, there are only so many top minutes, not to mention dollars, to go around.

At 34 years old, Thornton isn’t exactly young (for the NHL) either. And on that note, San Jose also has 19-year-old center Tomas Hertl, the 17th overall pick in the 2012 draft, in the system. (Hertl will be at training camp in September, with an eye on making the team.)

Like Thornton, veteran forward Patrick Marleau, 33, and defenseman Dan Boyle, 37, have just one year remaining on their contracts.

In July, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said he’s had talks with all three pending UFAs, but wouldn’t tip his hand as to the likelihood of any of them signing extensions.

“We don’t talk about negotiations publicly,” said Wilson. “Have we had discussions with the other three? Yes. Will we have discussions going forward? The answer is yes.”

Of the three, Boyle may be the easiest to re-sign, if only due to his age and the fact he can’t really command a long extension. Thornton and Marleau, on the other hand, could probably get three to four years — maybe even five — if they hit the open market.

Boyle has already indicated he wants to stay put.

“I’ve made it clear this is where I want to be and this is where I want to finish my career,” he said in May

According to Sharks beat writer Kevin Kurz (CSN Bay Area), it’s likely all three will go into the 2013-14 season with their futures unsettled. Writes Kurz: “Individual performance, and the performance of the team, could dictate which of those three continues to wear a black and teal sweater in the fall of 2014.”

More Sharks day on PHT:

Antti Niemi is San Jose’s rock in goal

Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

blackhawks
Harry How/Getty Images
13 Comments

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

Getty Images
3 Comments

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

tampa bay lightning
Scott Audette/Getty Images
2 Comments

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

Rasmus Sandin
Julian Avram/Getty Images
2 Comments

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.