Tampa Bay waives Panik (Updated)


The Tampa Bay Lightning have placed Richard Panik — their second-round pick (52nd overall) at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft — on waivers, per TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

Panik, 23, had yet to establish himself as a full-time NHLer but did appear in 50 games for the Bolts last season, scoring three goals and 13 points while averaging 12:42 TOI per game. He also made his playoff debut last year, appearing in two of four games during an opening-round loss to Montreal.

Panik has, however, established himself as a very good scorer at the AHL level. He had 11 points in 13 games with Syracuse last year, than after scoring 22 goals and 41 points in 51 games the season prior.

The timing of today’s transaction is a bit odd, especially since Panik was taking line rushes at this morning’s practice, according to the Tampa Tribune:

It’s possible GM Steve Yzerman was forced to waive Panik due to Tampa Bay’s numbers game. The club already filed a couple of “paper transactions” for Andrej Sustr and Nikita Kucherov, presumably to get roster/cap compliant for Thursday’s season-opener against Florida.

UPDATE: Here’s the skinny on waiving Panik, and an explanation for the timing, per the Tampa Bay Times

“It’s always been about consistency with him,” assistant general manager Julien BriseBois said. “The skill set is there, the tool box is great. Other guys beat him out for a job. It’s that simple. We’re keeping 23 guys that believe give us the best chance of winning games this year and right now he’s 24.”

The Lightning will find out by noon Thursday if Panik clears, and it hopes he does. What is working in the team’s favor is that by putting him on waivers so late, a day after other teams had to file their rosters with the league, he could sneak through.

If so, Panik still has some work to do with Syracuse. “He needs to not only game in game out but shift in, shift out, be out there trying to make a difference.”

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

Rasmus Sandin
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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.