‘Canes still haven’t asked Eric Staal to waive no-trade

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The trade deadline is just five days away and, over in Carolina, one of the biggest chips in play still hasn’t been asked if he’s willing to move.

On Wednesday, ‘Canes captain Eric Staal told the News & Observer GM Ron Francis hasn’t asked him to waive his no-trade clause yet, but added he may be willing to — depending on the situation.

“Ultimately, we’ll see what management wants to do and what they see is best for this organization and this team, and we’ll go from there,” Staal said. “Obviously it depends on the situation and where it would be. But I think we’ve got a pretty good relationship where we can talk it out and figure it out.

“I’m not going to be trying to hold anything back, but it’s got to be the right situation for myself, as well.”

Though this isn’t an especially huge development — Francis could orchestrate a trade tomorrow, ask Staal to waive, and boom, trade’s done — it could shed light on the current state of the trade market. Things have been fairly slow thus far, with only depth rentals like Shawn Matthias, Roman Polak, Nick Spaling and, from the non-Leafs division, Mike Weber changing addresses so far.

As such, Francis could be playing the waiting game, hopeful that prices will drive up as Feb. 29 draws closer.

The News & Observer mentions Nashville, Florida and the New York Rangers as teams rumored to be interested in the 31-year-old’s services. Staal is a desirable asset, but it won’t be simple to orchestrate a deal — his $8.25M cap hit means Carolina would likely need to retain some salary.

At first glance, that might appear a non-issue because 1) the ‘Canes aren’t near the ceiling, and 2) Staal’s contract is up at the end of the year. But Francis is already retaining salary from two other trades — Jay Harrison to Winnipeg, Tuomo Ruutu to New Jersey — and teams are only allowed to keep money from three contracts.

If Staal is No. 3, it would prevent Francis using the mechanism for other deals.

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.