Coyotes’ Kuemper out ‘week-to-week’ with lower-body injury

1 Comment

Darcy Kuemper has been one of the biggest factors in the Arizona Coyotes’ climb to the top of the Pacific Division.

Now they will have to get by without him for the next couple of weeks.

The team announced on Friday that Kuemper, the team’s starting goalie, will be out of the lineup on a “week-to-week” basis with a lower-body injury. He suffered the injury in the Coyotes’ 8-5 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night after giving up seven goals on 25 shots, by far his worst start of the season.

Adin Hill has been recalled from Tuscon of the American Hockey League to take his spot.

It’s a big loss for the Coyote because Kuemper has blossomed into one of the league’s best goalies since joining the team in late in the 2017-18 season.

His .923 save percentage since his acquisition is fifth best in the NHL since then, while his performance this year has made him one of the top contenders for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goalie.

Another opportunity for Raanta

The good news for the Coyotes is they still have a very capable starter — Antti Raanta — on the roster ready to fill in.

Both goalies have played at an elite level over the past couple of years and have formed one of the most productive duos in the league.

Now Raanta gets another opportunity to shine in the starting role.

He has excelled in that role since joining the Coyotes, but injuries, as well as the emergence of Kuemper, have significantly cut into his playing time the past two years.

Because of Kuemper’s play there had even been some speculation that the team should consider dangling Raanta as trade bait. But general manager John Chayka never showed any serious interest in doing that, and for good reason. Given the way NHL teams limit the workload of their starters in today’s NHL (any starter playing more than 60 games is a rarity anymore) it is a necessity to have two quality goalies on your roster, and that is even before you take into account the possibility of an injury.

With a 20-13-4 record the Coyotes are off to one of their best starts since moving to the desert and as of Friday hold the tiebreaker over the Vegas Golden Knights for first place in the Pacific Division. The two teams play each other after the Christmas break.

More Coyotes: Taylor Hall and the Coyotes need each other

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

blackhawks
Harry How/Getty Images
13 Comments

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

Getty Images
3 Comments

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

tampa bay lightning
Scott Audette/Getty Images
2 Comments

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

Rasmus Sandin
Julian Avram/Getty Images
2 Comments

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.