Looking to make the leap: Michael Dal Colle

8 Comments

After winning a Memorial Cup with the Oshawa Generals last season, New York Islanders’ prospect Michael Dal Colle is hoping to make the leap to the National Hockey League this season rather than return to the OHL.

Dal Colle, the Islanders’ first-round pick (fifth overall) in 2014, scored 42 goals and 93 points in 56 games with the Generals last season. He added 31 points in 21 playoff games as Oshawa captured its fifth Memorial Cup in franchise history.

“Anytime you win a championship, it’s a great feeling,” Islanders’ coach Jack Capuano said per NHL.com. “Obviously everybody’s in it for the same reason, to win, and we want to win a Stanley Cup. But he’s got a little taste of what it takes to win a championship, and that’s what you want. You want guys that like to win and are real disappointed when things don’t go your way.”

Because of his age, the 6-foot-2, 190-pound forward will have to return to Oshawa, if he is unable to crack the Islanders’ lineup this season.

The 19-year-old is focused on spending the 2015-16 season with the Islanders.

“In my mind, I think I have a chance,” Dal Colle said. “I’m going to do my best to make that chance a real possibility. That’s definitely going to be my goal going into (this) season.”

Depending on how his training camp goes, GM Garth Snow admitted Dal Colle could earn a nine-game audition at the start of the season.

“He’s a huge part of this team, obviously,” Snow told NHL.com. “The luxury we have now is we’ve been so fortunate in the drafts that we’ve had is we have a tremendous amount of depth at all positions.

“We’ll never discount any young player from making our club out of training camp. Really, Michael’s performance will dictate that. That’s why you have training camp: It gives every team an opportunity to see how players perform at the highest level.”

Given the depth the Islanders currently have in their forward mix, Dal Colle will in tough to make New York’s opening night roster, but he understands the situation.

“It’s part of the process,” Dal Colle said. “Tons of great players have gone through it, a guy like Ryan Strome had to play four years in juniors as well. But obviously that’s not my mindset. I want to play this year and I’m going to do everything I can to hopefully get my chance.”

Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk 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.

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
3 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.