Lightning hand Bishop a two-year, $11.9M extension

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The Tampa Bay Lightning answered one of their biggest lingering questions on Saturday, signing goalie Ben Bishop to a two-year contract extension. The financial details haven’t been made official, but ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that it’s worth $11.9 million overall (or $5.95 million per season).

In other words, it’s a lot like the contract Sergei Bobrovsky received from Columbus after he won the 2013 Vezina Trophy. Bishop gets paid as an essentially elite goalie, yet that limited term also means he needs to “prove it” to gain greater security.

The 27-year-old netminder has one year remaining on a deal that carries a $2.3 million cap hit, so this extension keeps the large goalie under contract through the 2016-17 campaign.

Bishop enjoyed a breakthrough 2013-14 season, generating a sterling 37-14-7 record while notching a strong .924 save percentage to go with five shutouts. His injury-related absence was glaring during the 2014 postseason; Anders Lindback struggled mightily as the Montreal Canadiens dispatched the Bolts in four games.

Even so, Bishop’s resume is pretty skinny; the American goalie only has 108 games of NHL experience and never played in more than 22 games before the 2013-14 campaign.

This gives the Lightning plenty of time to evaluate their goaltending situation, which could get quite interesting if 2012 first-rounder (19th overall) Andrei Vasilevskiy ends up justifying the hype. Tampa Bay invested in experienced backup Evgeni Nabokov during this offseason, yet the big-picture No. 1 battle is expected to eventually come down to Bishop vs. Vasilevskiy (with apologies to Kristers Gudlevskis).

By agreeing to this “bridge deal,” the Lightning won’t need to rush such a decision, even if they’re paying a premium in the short term.

Senators goaltender Cam Talbot out 5-7 weeks with injury

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OTTAWA, Ontario — Ottawa Senators goaltender Cam Talbot is expected to be out five to seven weeks with what the team called an upper-body injury.

The Senators initially called Talbot day to day with what they hoped was a minor injury. Instead he’s now expected to miss at least the first month of the NHL season.

Ottawa claimed goalie Magnus Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken upon announcing Talbot’s expected absence. Hellberg, who played for Sweden at the Beijing Olympics could split time with countryman Anton Forsberg while Talbot is out.

The Senators acquired Talbot from Minnesota during the offseason to make him their starter after the Wild opted against bringing him back along with Marc-Andre Fleury. Talbot, 35, had a 2.76 goals-against average and .911 save percentage this season.

Losing Talbot is a blow to the Senators, who also acquired winger Alex DeBrincat from Chicago and signed longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux as part of a move toward contending and ending their playoff drought.

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.