Jackets ink Savard to five-year, $21.25M extension

Getty Images
8 Comments

The Columbus Blue Jackets managed to make one more major move before the start of training camp.

They’ve announced that David Savard has agreed to a five-year extension. The team has a policy of not disclosing the financial terms, but the contract is worth $21.25 million, according to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.

Savard still has a season left on his two-year, $2.6 million contract, so the 24-year-old defenseman is now locked in through 2020-21.

“Getting David signed to a contract extension was a priority for us and we are very happy to have reached a long-term deal with him,” said Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen. “He has taken tremendous steps the past two seasons and responded very well to the larger role he played on our blueline last season. We are excited about his future with the Blue Jackets.”

As far as relatively recently signed young defensemen go, Savard’s new contract puts him a touch below Calgary’s T.J. Brodie (five-years, roughly $23.3 million) and comes with the same cap hit as John Klingberg‘s new contract (seven-year, $29.75 million).

Klingberg is an interesting comparable. Savard has played in 187 NHL games while Klingberg is entering his sophomore campaign, but both took major leaps offensively last season with Savard recording 36 points in 82 contests to more than double his previous career-high while Klingberg broke into the league with 40 points in 65 games. In both cases, there’s a risk that their 2014-15 showing will prove to be a deviation rather than a first step, but both teams have opted to take a risk on the young blueliners given that those cap hits will look very good if they can even just maintain their recent level of success.

It helps that Savard did far more than just chip in offensively. He was a major contributor with the man advantage and in shorthanded situations en route to averaging 22:56 minutes per game. He also recorded 195 hits and 105 blocked shots.

Although Savard is now locked up, the Blue Jackets still have some important decisions regarding their defense ahead of them as Dalton Prout, Ryan Murray, and Kevin Connauton are all eligible to become restricted free agents in 2016.

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.