Canadiens’ Shea Weber sidelined 4-6 weeks with ankle sprain

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Following a report on Wednesday that the future of Montreal Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber could be in doubt, the team issued an update announcing that the defenseman will be sidelined for the next four-to-six weeks due to an ankle sprain.

Weber has missed the team’s past three games and it was already announced that he would miss the next two games this week in Boston (Wednesday) and Pittsburgh (Saturday).

Earlier on Wednesday a report from Nick Kypreos said Weber’s season could be over and that his future is in doubt due a foot injury that was related to the one that required surgery in 2018. The Canadiens issued a brief statement following that report and simply said they will be able to provide an update by the end of the week and will have no further comment at the present time.

Not even two hours later, they issued their most recent update on Weber’s status.

So while this news is more promising than the initial report, it is still not exactly good.

Weber was having a great season for the Canadiens and is still their best, most impactful defenseman. They do not have anyone that can replace him now or in the immediate future. When healthy, he has still been an outstanding player in Montreal but injuries have severely limited him since arriving via trade prior to the 2016-17 season, having already missed 87 games (and now counting) since then.

Weber is still signed for six more seasons at an annual salary cap hit of $7.857 million dollars.

Because of that, the Nashville Predators also have to always be watching his health and career closely. In the (unlikely) event that Weber decides to retire before his contract expires, they would be on the hook for a massive cap recapture penalty that could significantly impact their roster. That decision is still probably quite a ways off (and Weber simply going on LTIR so he can continue to be paid is a far more likely outcome than an official retirement in the event that he could no longer play) but it is still something that could be a factor in the future.

The Predators traded Weber to Montreal in a one-for-one deal involving P.K. Subban.

In the short-term, though, this would situation would seem to put a pretty significant dent in the Canadiens’ already fading playoff chances. Despite a 9-4-0 record since January 10, the Canadiens enter Wednesday’s game against Boston eight points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Related: How quickly can Canadiens turn things around?

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.

 

Islanders agree to terms with Mathew Barzal on 8-year extension

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Mathew Barzal has agreed to terms with the New York Islanders on an eight-year extension, a move that keeps the franchise’s top forward under contract for the balance of his prime.

The deal is worth $73.2 million with an annual salary cap hit of $9.15 million, according to a person with knowledge of the contract. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not announce terms.

Barzal has led the team in scoring, or been tied for the lead, every season since he became a full-time NHL player in 2017-18. He has 349 points in 411 regular-season and playoff games for the defensively stingy Islanders, who qualified for the postseason three consecutive times before an injury- and virus-altered last year.

“We feel recharged,” Barzal said recently. “We feel like everybody had good summers and worked hard, and we got that excitement back.”

Barzal, now 25, is coming off putting up 59 points in 75 games. The offensive star will now be asked to round out his game.

“I’m a fan because Mat has the ability to raise his game and to be a special player,” general manager Lou Lamoriello told reporters at the team’s practice facility on Long Island. “And now, with this contract and our faith in him, (it) puts that responsibility on him. We’re trusting that. It’s up to him to respond to that.”

Senators goaltender Cam Talbot out 5-7 weeks with injury

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OTTAWA, Ontario — Ottawa Senators goaltender Cam Talbot is expected to be out five to seven weeks with what the team called an upper-body injury.

The Senators initially called Talbot day to day with what they hoped was a minor injury. Instead he’s now expected to miss at least the first month of the NHL season.

Ottawa claimed goalie Magnus Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken upon announcing Talbot’s expected absence. Hellberg, who played for Sweden at the Beijing Olympics could split time with countryman Anton Forsberg while Talbot is out.

The Senators acquired Talbot from Minnesota during the offseason to make him their starter after the Wild opted against bringing him back along with Marc-Andre Fleury. Talbot, 35, had a 2.76 goals-against average and .911 save percentage this season.

Losing Talbot is a blow to the Senators, who also acquired winger Alex DeBrincat from Chicago and signed longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux as part of a move toward contending and ending their playoff drought.

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.