Auston Matthews first player named to USA’s World Championships roster

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Well, here’s one way to make some noise.

In something of an unprecedented move, USA Hockey started its World Hockey Championships roster announcement with a bang, by naming 18-year-old Auston Matthews as the first — and, right now, only — player on the team.

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Last year, Matthews skated in an exhibition game with the U.S. Men’s National Team prior to the 2015 IIHF Men’s World Championship, becoming the first player to play at that level before entering their draft-eligible season.

This will be the fifth time Matthews has represented the United States in IIHF competition. A two-time gold medalist with the U.S. Men’s National Under-18 Teams (2014, 2015), Matthews most recently, helped the U.S. capture the bronze medal in the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship in Helsinki, Finland.

In his first professional season in Zurich, Matthews collected 46 points (24-22) in 36 games to earn the league’s Rising Star Award.

The consensus No. 1 overall pick at this year’s draft, Matthews is following in the footsteps of Buffalo rookie Jack Eichel, who — as an 18-year-old — helped the U.S. capture bronze at last year’s Worlds.

Eichel used the tournament to further cement his draft status, finishing with seven points in 10 games. That led to the Sabres taking him with the No. 2 overall pick, one spot behind Edmonton’s Connor McDavid.

The U.S. and Matthews begin this year’s Worlds on May 6, with a date against defending champion Canada.

Related: Agent: ‘No truth’ to rumor Matthews re-signs in Switzerland if he dislikes draft lottery winner

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.