Benning not worried that Kesler situation will be Luongo all over again

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PHILADELPHIA — Jim Benning isn’t worried about creating another patented Canucks soap opera. However, what Vancouver’s new general manager said Thursday about the possibility of trading Ryan Kesler sure did sound similar to what Benning’s predecessor, Mike Gillis, said over and over and over aaaaaaaaand over about Roberto Luongo.

“We’re talking to teams, but at the end of the day, we’re going to do what makes sense for us and to try to help Ryan out,” said Benning. “If we don’t think we can get a fair deal for him, then we’re going to keep him and he’s a Vancouver Canuck. We’re happy to have him back, because he’s a great player.”

Benning added: “We’ve had communication with [Kesler] throughout the process. We’ve talked to the agent. We’ve told him [the situation]; he understands that. He’s a professional, and he understands that part of it.”

Now, granted, Kesler’s situation has some meaningful differences to the one that kept Luongo in Vancouver long after the goalie first requested he be traded. Most importantly, Kesler’s contract doesn’t “suck”; in fact, it’s extremely attractive, with a cap hit of just $5 million for two more years.

But if the Canucks are going to trade the former Selke Trophy recipient, they’re going to need something significant in return. Certainly, more significant than what the Panthers ultimately gave up for Luongo.

And with a remark that could be seen as both a criticism of his predecessor, who couldn’t conceive a Kesler trade in March, as well as a warning that a deal may not be forthcoming this offseason, Benning had this to say:

“When you’re dealing with a player of [Kesler’s] stature, at the trade deadline is when you can really do well, because those teams that feel they’re maybe one player away…could possibly give you more than you’d get in the middle of summer when they’re not playing hockey.”

It’s been reported that Chicago and Anaheim are the leading contenders to land Kesler.

Related: On the possibility of Kesler to Chicago

Blackhawks F Katchouk will be 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 Sunday.

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.