Agent: No active talks between Greiss and Pens, but ‘neither side has closed the door’

3 Comments

There could be a new backup goalie in Pittsburgh next season, though it’s still a bit early to rule out Thomas Greiss’ return.

“We’ve spoken and neither side has closed the door but we’re not actively negotiating at this time either,” Greiss’ agent, Ray Petkau, told PHT via email on Monday. “We’ll speak again before July 1st.”

Greiss, 29, arrived in Pittsburgh last summer with a fair bit of intrigue. After going 10-8-5 with a .920 save percentage as Mike Smith’s No. 2 in Arizona, some thought Greiss could be in the mix for the Pens’ starting gig, given 1) Marc-Andre Fleury was going into the last year of his deal, and 2) the organization was in the midst of a overhaul, having already fired head coach Dan Bylsma and GM Ray Shero.

The push never seemed to materialize, though.

Fleury signed a four-year, $23 million extension just one month into the season and proceeded to carry a big workload, finishing tied for seventh in the league with 64 starts. Griess, meanwhile, started just 18 times (9-6-3, 2.59 GAA, .908 save percentage), got the mumps and played just a handful of times down the stretch.

It’ll be interesting to see what Pittsburgh does in goal behind Fleury next year. Matt Murray, the 21-year-old prospect that racked up a bunch of AHL awards this season (including rookie of the year and top goalie) could be promoted, though the organization’s developmental strategy probably calls for Murray playing a bunch of games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, rather than sitting behind Fleury.

That means Jeff Zatkoff, who split time with Murray in the American League last year, could end up being the guy. He’s under contract for one more year and has experience as Fleury’s backup, a role he filled during the 2013-14 campaign, when he played 20 games.

As for Greiss, he could test free agent waters for the second summer in a row, in a goalie market that’ll likely feature Antti Niemi, Karri Ramo and Michal Neuvirth, among others.

Blackhawks F Katchouk will be sidelined by ankle sprain

blackhawks
Harry How/Getty Images
13 Comments

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

Getty Images
2 Comments

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

tampa bay lightning
Scott Audette/Getty Images
2 Comments

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
Julian Avram/Getty Images
2 Comments

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.