The Toronto Maple Leafs did what was expected on Friday and signed a free agent defenseman to improve their blue line.
It just wasn’t the big-name defenseman that most expected.
The Maple Leafs agreed to terms with T.J. Brodie on a four-year, $20 million contract. That deal comes with a $5 million per year salary cap number. That contract would seem to take them out of the running for former St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, unless they made a rather significant trade to clear out more salary (which seems very unlikely).
While this may not be the big superstar splash, Brodie does help address a significant need for the Maple Leafs.
The 30-year-old defender is coming off of a four goal, 15 assist season in 64 games for the Calgary Flames. While his offense has taken a little step back in recent seasons he remains an excellent defensive player and should help bring some stability to a blue line that desperately needs that sort of presence.
Brodie had spent the previous 10 years of his career playing for the Flames where he was a regular alongside Mark Giordano on the team’s top defense pairing.
Now he joins a Toronto defense that already has Morgan Rielly and Jake Muzzin at the top, as well as recent first-round picks Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren. It seems like a given he will take the spot next to one of those two.
This is Toronto’s second significant signing of the day after also adding veteran forward Wayne Simmonds on a one-year deal.
Now the free agent focus turns to Pietrangelo and where he ends up going. The Vegas Golden Knights are presumed to be the other favorite, but you can also not rule out a return to St. Louis.
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.
CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced Sunday.
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.
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.
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.
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.