Sabres still mulling Leino buyout

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The NHL buyout period is coming soon and with it so will the decision on Ville Leino’s future with the Buffalo Sabres.

Leino has three years left on a contract with Buffalo that comes with a $4.5 million cap hit. Sabres GM Tim Murray told WGR radio in Buffalo they’re still deciding what the proper course is in how to handle Leino’s situation.

Murray said there’s a strong possibility that they’ll use the compliance buyout on Ville Leino. Murray says they must still cross the t’s and dot the i’s and have one more conversation with the owner about it.

As for Leino, his agent told John Vogl of The Buffalo News they haven’t had much talk with the Sabres.

“I have had few very short discussions about Leino with Tim Murray,” Leino’s agent, Markus Lehto, told The News by email.

The buyout period begins 48 hours after the end of the Stanley Cup Final or June 15, whichever comes first, and ends June 30. The Sabres owe Leino $11 million and a buyout would cost them $7.3 million (two-thirds of the amount owed). The Sabres signed Leino to a six-year, $27 million deal in the summer of 2011.

One possible issue for Buffalo should they use a compliance buyout on Leino: Hitting the salary floor.

It’s projected to be around $50 million next season and as of right now, according to CapGeek.com, the Sabres have nearly $39 million committed to the cap. Lopping off $4.5 million means Buffalo will have to spend $15 million against the cap to compete. They have five restricted free agents to get signed, two of whom are due for a raise in Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno. Cory Conacher, Jamie McBain, and Chad Ruhwedel are also RFAs.

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.