Maurice sees Scheifele as future captain of the Jets

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Over the past two seasons Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele has developed into one of the best offensive players in the NHL.

Since the start of the 2015-16 season his 61 goals and 143 total points place him 15th in the NHL, ahead of superstars like Alex Ovechkin, John Tavares, and Ryan Getzlaf. Along with Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers, he is one of the young players that is giving Jets fans a little bit of hope that the team might one day be able to climb out of the depths of mediocrity.

Coach Paul Maurice, who just signed a new contract extension to remain with the team this past week, sees more than just a great offensive player. He sees a future captain.

“Mark Scheifele is going to be the captain of this hockey team at some point in his career for sure,” said Maurice on Prime Time Sports this past week, via Sportsnet. “He is, in so many ways, the driver of that offense. Blake is a big part of it; Mark, as a centreman, certainly drives it.”

Here is more from Maurice:

“If you get a chance to spend some time with this guy, this is the guy you want your kids to grow up to be — he is that good a person,” Maurice said of Scheifele. “He does everything he possibly can to become a better hockey player and then does it with a smile on his face. There’s lots of those guys who grind through their life and kind of grumble about how hard they’ve got to work — Mark does all that, and enjoys every minute of it.”

Blake Wheeler is currently serving as the Jets’ captain after taking over the rule during the 2016-17 season. He replaced Andrew Ladd who was captain for six years before being traded during the 2015-16 season. Wheeler is under contract for two more seasons and will then be eligible for unrestricted free agency following the 2018-19 season.

Even with Maurice and general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff getting new contract extensions this week the pressure is going to be on for the Jets to make some real noise this season in the Western Conference. They have a lot of talent throughout the roster and finally attempted to address their goaltending issues by adding veteran goalie Steve Mason in free agency. There is a lot of promise with this team when looking at the roster on paper. But there has to come a point where that promise turns into results. The Jets have qualified for the playoffs just one time since relocating to Winnipeg seven years ago.

The organization (even dating back to the Atlanta Thrashers days) is still looking for its first ever playoff win having been swept in the first round in its only two playoff appearances.

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.