It appears Toronto will no longer try and punch its way to victory.
On Monday, the Leafs put veteran tough guys Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren on waivers, a significant shift in philosophy from a team that once prided itself on “pugnacity, testosterone, truculence.”
Orr, 32, was arguably the poster boy for ex-GM Brian Burke’s pugnacious approach. He averaged two points, five minutes TOI per game and 11 fights annually during his five-year stint in Toronto, racking up over 600 PIM.
McLaren, 26, was claimed off waivers shortly into the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign and proceeded to fight 21 times over parts of two seasons, appearing in 62 games all told.
In other moves today, Toronto put German rearguard Korbinian Holzer on waivers — meaning 21-year-old (and ’11 first-rounder) Stuart Percy made the team as the seventh defenseman; the Leafs also re-assigned Swedish wunderkind William Nylander to either the AHL or Sweden (the club hasn’t yet decided where the eighth overall pick at this year’s draft will play.)
While all of today’s moves hold significance, many will point to the Orr and McLaren moves as further evidence of Toronto adopting a more “modern” approach to the game. Their dedication to analytics and progressive statistical research is well documented; now, it appears they’re utilizing that information and approach to remake the roster and use more skilled, versatile players in the bottom six forward group — as opposed to guys that are primarily out there to fight and intimidate.
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.
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.
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.
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.