Voracek confident he can be an elite player


Philadelphia Flyers forward Jakub Voracek set new career-highs in 2013-14 with 23 goals and 62 points in 82 games, but he doesn’t believe he’s peaked. He thinks he has an 80-point season in him and has been working all summer to prepare for that pursuit.

“The guys who work for it, usually make it,” Voracek told CSN Philly. “I was doing everything I could this summer to get to that next level. I changed my diet, which I never thought would have been possible two years ago, the way I love food. It’s not funny. I really sacrificed to be that player that people think I can be.”

His body fat is now in the single digits, making him a strong 204 pounds. In addition to getting in better shape, the 25-year-old forward has gained confidence in his abilities. He sees guys like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin produce points on their bad days and believes it’s that ability that separates the Art Ross Trophy candidates from the pack.

Increasing his point total isn’t Voracek’s biggest goal though, even if it is one of his desires. Rather than build his game around Crosby, Voracek sees two-time Selke Trophy winner Patrice Bergeron as his role model.

“I’d rather have 65 points and play for the Stanley Cup,” Voracek said. “You might miss 10-15 points because you over-forechecked or over-backchecked. You’ve got to play good defense and sometimes you miss those points. That is why Bergeron is so special. He is a good example. He puts up 65-70 points. The way he plays is incredible. He is more valuable than people realize. More valuable than those players scoring 75-80 points.

It seems appropriate then that Voracek’s first game of the season will be against Bergeron’s Boston Bruins (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

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.