Looking to make the leap: Oscar Lindberg

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This season may be the last for Oscar Lindberg to make the leap and join the New York Rangers.

The 23-year-old center, who signed a two-year $1.3 million contract in July, needs to clear waivers, if New York wants to send him to the AHL.

Given Lindberg’s talent, he could be plucked off waivers prior to making his way back to Hartford.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Swede centered the Wolf Pack’s top line last season and finished second in team scoring with 28 goals and 56 points in 75 games. He added three goals and 13 assists in 15 Calder Cup playoff games.

Wolf Pack coach Ken Gernander believes Lindberg can contribute at the NHL level.

“He’s very committed to becoming better on faceoffs. He’s had good success (in the AHL) with his percentages and things like that,” said Gernander.“Playing at the NHL level, I think his whole game will translate well. He has offensive upside, and what team wouldn’t want that?”

Originally a second round pick (57th overall) of the Arizona Coyotes in 2010, Lindberg has spent the past two seasons in the AHL. He made his NHL debut with the Rangers last season playing 8:18 in New York’s 1-0 win over the Calgary Flames on Feb. 24.

Prior to beginning his professional career in North America, Lindberg played with Skelleftea in the Swedish Hockey League.

In order to crack the Rangers’ lineup this season Lindberg will have to outplay the likes of Jarret Stoll and Dominic Moore – a tall order for a player columnist Larry Brooks says “doesn’t appear to have the checking game, face off prowess or penalty killing ability to replace” Moore.

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

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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.