Avalanche hope to stay within budget while retaining Stastny, O’Reilly

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Colorado Avalanche executive Joe Sakic and head coach Patrick Roy met with the media on Thursday to discuss this offseason, which comes down to walking the tight rope as far as maintaining a balanced budget and improving their team.

Retaining restricted free agent Ryan O’Reilly and unrestricted free agent Paul Stastny at the right price stands as the biggest obstacle. Sakic at least indicated that the team intends to bring both back, if they can afford it.

“We’re hopeful we can sign (Stastny). We’ve got a structure, and he understands that,” Sakic said.

“We have a structure here, and we believe in taking care of our core guys, and Ryan and Paul are part of that.”

Earlier today, ESPN reported that contract talks are expected to intensify between the Avalanche and Stastny, 28, next week. The Avalanche backed that up during the press conference.

(You can get a better idea about Stastny’s value by reading his entry in our “UFA of the Day” series here.)

The Avalanche filed for club-elected salary arbitration with O’Reilly, 23, on Sunday. His agent said the two sides aren’t very close and made it clear that the two-way forward would prefer a long-term contract instead of the one or two-year deal he’d end up with in arbitration. Not surprisingly, the Avalanche didn’t provide many details, although Sakic didn’t close the door to getting a more substantial deal done before arbitration.

It’s easy to look at the history between O’Reilly and the Avalanche and wonder if this is a broken relationship, but Sakic at least attempted to shoot that theory down.

… Then again, maybe things are at least a little strained:

None of this is especially shocking – the Avalanche also hope to improve this summer, just like every other team – yet this unanswered question hangs as pretty interesting:

Matt Duchene’s six-year, $30 million deal kicks in next season, for what it’s worth.

In less pertinent contract discussions, it sounds like the team is open-minded to bringing back defenseman Andre Benoit, although that might also come down to finding the right deal.

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.