Get to know a draft pick — Jake Virtanen

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Leading up to the 2014 NHL Entry Draft in Philadelphia, we’ll be profiling top prospects who may hear their names called Friday in the first round. Nothing too in-depth. Just enough so you know who they are and what they’re about.

Jake Virtanen (LW)

Height: 6’ Weight: 208 Shoots: Right

Team: Calgary Hitmen (WHL)

Country: Canada/Finland

NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 6 among North American skaters

What kind of player is he?

Teams looking for a power forward will likely consider Jake Virtanen among the top candidates, if not the premier power forward in this 2014 class.

He has the size and hands (45 goals in the WHL this past season) to fit the bill, yet it also appears that he has the wheels to separate himself when brute strength isn’t enough. He took the top marks for 30-meter backward (4.55 seconds) and forward (3.92) sprints at the CHL Top Prospects Game. That doesn’t mean he’s necessarily the swiftest prospect out there, but it’s a strong indication that it’s an area of strength.

The prospect certainly doesn’t lack for confidence, either. He compared his game favorably to Rick Nash when asked by Yahoo’s Buzzing the Net:

“I kind of model myself after [the New York Rangers’] Rick Nash,” Virtanen said in March. “We’re kind of identical players. He likes to take the puck to the net. I think I’m a little more physical than that, I like to throw the body around.”

Quotable:

“It’s a copycat league, so L.A. wins the Stanley Cup again and the terminology is, ‘They’re heavy,'” Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray said. “So you’ve got guys like forwards [Nicholas] Ritchie and [Jake] Virtanen that are good players that are heavy. Teams are looking for heavy.”

“Jake is a great skater with a great shot and when he bears in on defenders, they are on their heels. He has an edge to his game and could be that ‘grand slam’ player all teams would love to get.” – TSN’s Craig Button.

For more 2014 NHL Draft previews, click here.

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.