Blackhawks

Blackhawks deal Marian Hossa's contract, Vinnie Hinostroza in seven-player deal with Coyotes

Blackhawks deal Marian Hossa's contract, Vinnie Hinostroza in seven-player deal with Coyotes

The Blackhawks have traded Marian Hossa’s contract to the Arizona Coyotes in a seven-player deal that includes Vinnie Hinostroza, Jordan Oesterle and a third-round pick in 2019. The deal helped the Blackhawks clear Hossa's $5.275 million cap hit for the next three years and benefits the Coyotes because Hossa's actual salary is only $1 million each year over that span.

In return the Blackhawks will receive forwards Marcus Kruger, MacKenzie Entwistle, Jordan Meletta and defenseman Andrew Campbell and a 2019 fifth-round pick.

"Yeah, obviously really excited," Kruger said of returning to Chicago. "Couldn’t be any more happy. Ready to go and just overall really excited to be back."

It’s not surprising the Blackhawks found a partner to take Hossa’s contract off their hands, given the salary cap floor increased by $3.4 million. But they paid a price they were likely hoping to avoid in attaching Hinostroza, who recently signed a two-year extension with the Blackhawks that carries a cap hit of $1.5 million.

Hinostroza established career highs in all three scoring categories last season with seven goals and 18 assists for 25 points in 50 games. He also had the second-highest points-per-60 minutes average at 5-on-5 for the Blackhawks at 1.98, a rate only Patrick Kane topped at 2.16.

In the grand scheme of things, removing Hossa’s contract from the books gives the Blackhawks flexibility in terms of roster movement going forward, and perhaps allows them to be more open-mind about a potential trade that benefits both the short-term and long-term after a quiet free agency.

The Blackhawks released this statement on Thursday thanking Hossa, who announced in May that he will no longer play hockey due to a skin disorder, for his services and the role he played in helping bring three Stanley Cups to Chicago:

Today is another example of the leadership Marian has displayed as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks organization. When we approached him to discuss the idea of him waiving his no move clause to allow us to make this move, it became clear this was a difficult thing for him to consider. After the success he has had in a Blackhawks jersey, the friends he has made throughout the organization and the fact his heart will always be in Chicago, the thought of disassociating in any way from the team he has come to love was not something he really wanted to give any thought to at all. But, as the consummate team player, he did what he has always done. He did what the team needed him to do in order to succeed.

Marian’s long-term contributions to the club will never be forgotten. His performance as a player was always appreciated, but, it is his special qualities as a teammate, a leader and a person, that will more than anything leave its mark on all of us who have come to love and respect the very humble way he goes about everything he does. He has shown us all the impact we can have on others if we conduct ourselves with character, integrity and utmost respect for all we come in contact with. We have had the pleasure of watching him hoist three Stanley Cups with our team and he will forever be connected to the Blackhawks. On behalf of the entire organization, we would like to thank Marian—a world-class player—for all he has done for the Chicago Blackhawks.

The notable part of the Blackhawks' return is Kruger, who comes back to Chicago after spending last season with Carolina and Arizona. Coyotes general manager John Chayka revealed in a conference call that Kruger played through the season with a sports hernia and underwent surgery in April, which maybe helps explain why he compiled only six points (one goal, five assists) in 48 games while logging a career-low 10:50 of ice time.

"I feel ready to go, so it’s not going to be any problem for training camp or next year," Kruger said. "What went wrong, I don’t know. I wasn’t playing enough, as a team, or me either. I’m really excited to show what I can do and how I can play and get better from it. It was a tough year last year, but going through that I learned a lot and just want to make sure I really prepare here and get better from it and be ready for next year."

As a team, the Blackhawks ranked 21st in faceoff win percentage (49.3) and 20th in penalty kill percentage (79.1), two areas Kruger played a large role in during his first stint in Chicago and will likely ask him to do the same in his second go-around.

"Similar," Kruger responded when asked what he expects his role to be. "Do whatever I get asked to do and play my game. And try to do whatever the coaches want me to do, do that 100 percent and give it my best. That’s all I can do. Obviously they know what kind of player I am. I think playing to my strengths and being a guy they can trust at both ends of the ice. I think it’s going to be exciting and yeah, we both know each other. It’s not going to be a problem."

All eyes on Blackhawks defensemen as prospect camp opens

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AP

All eyes on Blackhawks defensemen as prospect camp opens

The second wave of Blackhawks defensemen is on the way. That's exactly where all the attention was when prospect camp opened up Monday at MB Ice Arena.

Nicolas Beaudin. Adam Boqvist. Henri Jokiharju. Ian Mitchell. Call it the Big Four. Where are they all at in their development? When will they be ready to make an NHL impact? Who's the most pro ready? 

Lots of questions. Those will slowly start to get answered and it begins now.

While there may not necessarily be an open competition among the group right away, there's certainly a desire to make a strong first impression in front of the upper brass that included Stan Bowman, John McDonough and Joel Quenneville watching on Day 1.

"Every NHL team has a lot of good defensemen prospects, so I mean obviously when you want to go out there you want to showcase yourself as best as you can," Mitchell said. "Obviously you want to be the best defenseman here so that's my goal going into this, I want to prove to everyone that I'm a good defenseman, I deserve to play at the next level. Obviously there's lots of good players here, but you're trying to all succeed."

Said Beaudin: "There's a lot of competition. There's a lot of good, young defensemen. I think you just need to be different when you play when you show what you can do."

Said Boqvist: "I'm trying to be better every day. Of course I will play in the NHL one day and win Stanley Cups, so that's my mindset."

The theme? Focus on your own game, take what you learn out of this week and apply those tools in your game when advancing your development next season. The rest will take care of itself.

Mitchell will go back to Denver for his sophomore campaign to continue his development. Beaudin is expected to return to the QMJHL with the Drummondville Voltigeurs. Boqvist signed with the OHL's London Knights, where he will look to get accustomed to the North American style of play.

For Jokiharju, the goal is different. This is his second development camp. He signed an entry-level contract in June. Making the big club is a real goal and a legitimate possibility for a Blackhawks team looking for young, impact defensemen immediately.

"I think if Henri has a really good summer of training, comes into camp, I certainly thinks he gets a good look," Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley told NBC Sports Chicago last month.

Jokiharju showed poise and confidence with and without the puck during drills, like someone who knows this is only the first step towards that ultimate goal.

"Yeah," Jokiharju responded when asked if the expectation is to make it to the NHL this season. "You want to set the bar high, you don't want to set the bar too low. I want to dream big and that's the dream."

That's the dream for everyone. When that happens, it's up to them. This week is a chance to set an early tone.

Former Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery dies in early morning drowning

Former Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery dies in early morning drowning

Former Blackhawks goaltender Ray Emery was identified as the victim in an early morning drowning on Sunday at the Hamilton Harbour, Hamilton Police confirmed. He was 35.

According to the Hamilton Spectator, Emery and his friends jumped in the water around 6:30 a.m., but Emery never resurfaced. His body was recovered later in the afternoon.

Emery played in the NHL for 11 seasons, two of which came with the Blackhawks from 2011-13, where he served as a backup goaltender to Corey Crawford.

In 2013, he teammated up with Crawford to win the William M. Jennings Trophy, awarded to the goaltender(s) with the fewest goals against in a single season, before going on to capture his first Stanley Cup. During that season, Emery went 17-1-0 with a 1.94 goals against average, .922 save percentage and three shutouts.

The Blackhawks issued this statement following the confirmation:

The Chicago Blackhawks organization was deeply saddened to hear of Ray Emery’s passing. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. The Blackhawks will fondly remember Ray as a fierce competitor, a good teammate and a Stanley Cup champion.

The hockey community took to Twitter to offer their condolences when news began to spread: