Ladd: ‘Kind of sad’ tonight could be last game in Winnipeg

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Following tonight’s home date against the Stars, the Jets will set out on a pair of road games and won’t be back until Mar. 1.

Mar. 1, of course, being the day after the Feb. 29 trade deadline.

And you know what that means in Winnipeg — it means that, this evening, captain Andrew Ladd could very well be playing his last game in front the MTS Centre faithful.

As a Jet, that is.

“We haven’t been told that. But I guess I can kind of see the writing on the wall,” Ladd said on Tuesday, per the Sun. “I obviously hope it’s not. But I realize it has the potential of being my last.

“And it’s kind of sad to think about.”

By now you’re all probably familiar with the Ladd situation, but a quick refresher:

Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff had two key UFAs to sign this season in Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien. Money, logic and cap space suggested it might have to be one or the other, not both — and earlier this month, after Byfuglien signed a monster five-year, $38 million extension, Ladd’s writing appeared to be on the wall.

Ladd, of course, had a fairly big ask of his own: a six-year extension “with an average annual value north of $6 million,” per TSN senior correspondent Gary Lawless.

Contract talks between Winnipeg and the 30-year-old reportedly broke off in late January. Today, Ladd said he hasn’t received a new contract offer this week, adding he didn’t think there had been much in the way of negotiations since Christmas.

So, attention turned to Ladd as a potential trade deadline rental.

Several teams are reportedly in the mix, with Florida emerging as one that covets Ladd immensely. And it stands to reason that Cheveldayoff almost has to deal Ladd, primarily to avoid losing him for nothing in free agency — something that happened last year with Michael Frolik.

But despite all this writing on the wall, Ladd and his Jets teammates are still finding it difficult to fathom that, come Monday, the captain might be gone.

“It’s crazy to think we got to this point,” Blake Wheeler said, per the Sun. “I never imagined in a million years we’d be sitting here.”

Related: Coach Q thinks the ‘Hawks could use another forward or two

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.