Report: Islanders will play at Barclays next season, arena hopes lie at Belmont

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Arena talks are only slightly more enjoyable than talking about taxes, but they also happen to be crucial for NHL teams. Just ask anyone involved in the John Tavares negotiations.

Tuesday brought some interesting developments in both regards for the New York Islanders, although the Tavares update wasn’t exactly … detailed.

First, let’s pull off the Band-Aid with the arena stuff, as Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky spoke to the media today. For one thing, the Islanders will play at the Barclays Center in 2018-19, according to what Ledecky told reporters including Jim Baumbach of Newsday and Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post.

While more than one possibility has been discussed regarding a possible arena solution, Ledecky made it clear to reporters that an arena at Belmont Park is the focus.

Baumbach notes that Ledecky joins NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in shooting down any notion of the Islanders returning to Nassau Coliseum.

Interesting, but not surprising, to see the “NHL wouldn’t approve it” note.

Finally, GM Garth Snow provided a terse (but positive) update on the Tavares talks:

Well, alrighty then. It’s widely believed that Tavares wants some assurances about the Islanders playing in a stable spot before he commits to a new contract, and it’s plausible that the team’s successes or failures in 2017-18 could also make an impact on his decision.

The Islanders are currently 1-1-1, and won’t see their (temporary) home at the Barclays Center much for the time being, as this schedule analysis post discusses. They begin an especially tough road trip on Wednesday:

Wed, Oct 11 @ Anaheim
Sat, Oct 14 @ San Jose
Sun, Oct 15 @ Los Angeles
Thu, Oct 19 @ NY Rangers

Long story short, the Islanders face hurdles in both the short and long-term, so don’t blame Snow even if “excellent” might be a mild exaggeration regarding the Tavares talks.

And, of course, “excellent” only really matters if he eventually re-signs. It could be months until the Islanders and other bidders get some clarity regarding building near Belmont Park, a notion this post explores in greater detail.

So the Islanders’ arena and Tavares sagas may both have some twists up ahead.

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.