Calgary captain Mark Giordano has emerged as a strong replacement candidate should one of Canada’s eight Olympic defensemen get hurt.
“It’s not just, ‘Hey, here’s your 25 guys’ and our work is done. Now, management is going to pour into arenas and watch those bubble guys like [Giordano],” Team Canada assistant Ken Hitchcock said, per the Calgary Sun. “There are probably eight or 10 bubble guys identified in case there’s an injury, and he’s one of those guys who is really emerging.
“It’s too bad he was hurt, but he’s climbing the ladder.”
Giordano, who missed 18 games this year with a broken ankle, has been very solid while in the Calgary lineup. He enjoyed an outstanding start by scoring nine points in his first eight games while averaging a whopping 25:03 TOI and, since returning from injury on Dec. 4, has scored nine more points in 17 games.
Named captain prior to this season, Giordano is known for his quality two-way play and ability to log huge minutes. He’s played over 28 on two different occasions this season and, in his third game back off the broken ankle, played 26:20 in a 2-1 OT win over Edmonton.
Giordano also possesses a left-handed shot, which is important for the makeup of Team Canada’s defense. The braintrust wants the blueline to have four righties and four lefties (currently, the four lefties are Jay Bouwmeester, Duncan Keith, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Dan Hamhuis), so it’s very possible Giordano could be the first man up should injury hit.
“Everybody knows you lose eight players a week in the National Hockey League to injury,” Hitchcock explained. “It could be some of our Team Canada guys.”
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.
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.
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.
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.