Dallas GM doesn’t think Kopitar deal will affect Benn negotiations

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With Anze Kopitar‘s monster eight-year, $80 million extension now signed, sealed and delivered in Los Angeles, reporters in Dallas are asking GM Jim Nill about contract negotiations for the Stars’ franchise player — team captain Jamie Benn.

From the Morning-News:

Q: Anze Kopitar just signed an eight-year extension for $80 million, does that affect your contract talks with Jamie Benn, who can become a UFA after next season?

Nill: I don’t think so. There’s a market, and we know what the market is. There are certain dynamics to any negotiation, and we’ll wait and see.

Q: Do you have to have it done before next year starts?

Nill: No.

Q: Would you like to have it done before next year?

Nill (laughs): You’d like everything done, but this is my job, and they have to do their job, too. I’m realistic.

Benn, 26, has this year and the next left on a five-year, $26.25 million deal signed back in 2013 — a deal orchestrated by Nill’s predecessor, Joe Nieuwendyk.

That deal, you may recall, was a contentious one. Benn missed the first four games of the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign trying to finagle an extension.

In light of that, it’ll be interesting to see what the reigning Art Ross winner demands with his new contract. Benn will be turning 28 by the time his current deal expires — roughly around the same age Kopitar was when he inked — and it’s widely expected he’ll receive a significant raise on the $5.25M he makes annually on his current deal.

So, is Benn $10M cap hit worthy?

That’s the big question Nill will face moving forward.

He’s got key pieces like Tyler Seguin (2019) and John Klingberg (2022) locked in long-term, but also has a slightly onerous cap hit in Jason Spezza ($7.5M annually through ’19) and some key contract decisions on the horizon: Patrick Sharp is up the same time as Benn, and Alex Goligoski is in the final year of his deal.

Blackhawks F Katchouk will be 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 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

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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.