The first three seasons of the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter era with the Minnesota Wild weren’t a disaster, but they’ve been subject to a narrative that’s getting old fast: They claw their way into the playoffs and get eliminated by the Chicago Blackhawks.
The fact that their last three seasons can be summed up in one relatively unflattering sentence is a problem, but it’s one the Wild will get another chance to correct in 2015-16.
Suter puts a lot of pressure on himself and he wants to his team to live up to the aspirations Wild owner Craig Leipold had when he handed matching 13-year, $98 million contracts with Suter and Parise. At the same time, Suter wants to put that narrative into context.
“There’s a reason they won the Stanley Cup this season. And two years ago. And five years ago. How many other teams lost to them?” Suter said of Chicago, per the Pioneer Press. “We’re in a good spot; we just can’t take a step back. If we keep progressing the way we are, we’re going to be fine.”
Minnesota certainly isn’t lacking in young talent that might be ready to take a step forward, including Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter, and Jason Zucker.
Even still, Suter likely hit the nail on the head when he said that they can’t take a step back. Of course, many other players from a variety of teams would say the same, but Minnesota’s recent history and expectations make that sentiment particularly relevant. This is a team that seemed to be on the brink of disaster last season before acquiring goaltender Devan Dubnyk. If the Wild struggle mightily again, if the fourth season of this era ends without so much as a playoff berth, will they really maintain the current status quo for 2016-17?
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.
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.
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.
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.