Blackhawks

Blackhawks able to get some rest as they await next opponent

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Blackhawks able to get some rest as they await next opponent

The Blackhawks weren't able to do a whole lot at the start of Game 6 of their opening-round playoff series against the Nashville Predators, down by two goals just over eight minutes into game against a team that was fighting to stay above water.

But as Saturday's contest went on, the Predators weren't the only team playing a desperate game, and ultimately were unable to keep the Blackhawks from sending them packing.  

"To go out against a team like that and win four games, especially that last one, you know it's the toughest one," Jonathan Toews said following his team's 4-3 win. "So that confidence and that excitement has to get us ready and excited."

The Blackhawks could let out a slight sigh of relief knowing they made it past Round 1, but in the upcoming days, they'll face another huge challenge as they take on either the Minnesota Wild or St. Louis Blues.

[WATCH: Duncan Keith sends Blackhawks to second round with late goal]

So while Game 6 wasn't a do-or-die situation for Chicago, the Blackhawks felt extra motivation and their own sense of desperation to close things out as quickly as possible in order to have a few days of rest before their upcoming series kicks off. 

"It's important," Patrick Kane said when asked about how crucial an early series win is. "I think we're happy with winning here tonight. We knew we had a great opportunity in front of our home crowd to seize that moment and seize that opportunity. So it's a good thing we took advantage of it."

The Blackhawks also had the opportunity to end the Predators' series during Game 5 in Nashville after taking a 3-1 series lead following their big triple-overtime win in Game 4.

[MORE: Blackhawks rally to beat Predators, advance to second round]

And after missing that opportunity once, they weren't ready to do it again. Especially in front of a home crowd. 

"We learned from our mistakes in Game 5," Toews said. "It was going to take our best game of the series to push these guys out and I think we saw that in the last two periods."

After getting dominated through the first few minutes of Saturday's game, the Blackhawks managed to tie things up by the end of the first period before a goal from Duncan Keith solidified the win toward the end of the third period.

And like the other five games in the series, the Blackhawks and Predators looked pretty evenly matched a majority of the time. But it was Chicago that found ways to capitalize when it mattered most, and that's what pushed them through the first round in such a highly-competitive division.

"That says how tough our division and our conference is," head coach Joel Quenneville said. "You had Nashville all year, first in the league overall for a big stretch. Had some injury problems, but they're a good hockey team. We saw first-hand that they're deep. Hopefully we can get some excitement off of this win knowing we still have to be better moving forward."

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The Blackhawks were happy to get the series over with without having to board another flight to Nashville. Now they'll have some extra time off before facing Minnesota or St. Louis, who could be playing as late as Wednesday if their series goes a full seven games.

Now the Blackhawks will focus and regroup as they wait to find out who their next-round opponent is.

"We'll watch and see what happens," Kane said. "Either opponent is going to be tough for us because of how tough the Central Division has been, the style both teams play. So we'll see what happens and adjust our game the way Joel tells us to for our next opponent."

Getting to know four newly-signed Blackhawks

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AP

Getting to know four newly-signed Blackhawks

The Blackhawks announced Monday that they have officially agreed to terms with forward Dominik Kahun, defensemen Lucas Carlsson and Darren Raddysh and goaltender Kevin Lankinen on entry-level contracts.

Kahun ($925,000 cap hit), Lankinen ($925,000) and Raddysh ($730,000) each signed two-year deals that run through the 2019-20 season while Carlsson's is a three-year deal that runs through the 2020-21 campaign and carries a cap hit of $792,500.

So who are these guys? Let's meet them:

Carlsson

Drafted in the fourth round (No. 110 overall) by the Blackhawks in 2016, Carlsson set a career-high with 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in 44 games this season with Brynäs IF of the Swedish Hockey League. He was tied for fourth among all blue liners with seven goals.

Carlsson, 20, doesn't have major upside, but he's a reliable, well-rounded defenseman and that's what drew the attention of Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley.

“When he’s on the ice, he makes things happen," Kelley told Scott Powers of The Athletic last summer. "I think what impressed the Sweden under-20 coach was Lucas’ ability to challenge in all three zones. He’s an active defensively. Offensively, he challenges. He keeps plays alive.”

Kahun

The 22-year-old forward spent the last four seasons with EHC München of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga, Germany's top professional hockey league, where he established career highs in assists (29), points (41) and tied a personal best with 12 goals, leading Munchen to their third straight championship in 2018 after recording four goals and 10 assists in 17 playoff contests.

He raised eyebrows at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, where he compiled five points (two goals, three assists) in seven games and won 55.4 percent of his faceoffs (41 of 74), helping Germany capture a silver medal.

“He has made an enormous step this year, has become much more stable and mature," German national team coach Marco Sturm said after the Olympics. "I am sure that he would grab it in the NHL,” Sturm told the Hamburger Morgenpost.

Most recently, Kahun had a goal and two assists in seven games for Germany during the IIHF Men's World Championship. He's 5-foot-11, 176 pounds whose known to be a solid two-way player and can play center but may need some time to adjust to the smaller ice surface and NHL style of speed and physicality.

Lankinen 

Lankinen is 23 years old and coming off a season in which he was in the discussion for the Urpo Ylönen trophy, annually awarded to the top goaltender of the Finnish Elite League, after registering a league-best 1.33 goals against average and .946 save percentage in 15 games with HIFK.

He missed a large portion of the season because of an injury, but it didn't stop him from turning in a strong postseason, guiding his team to a bronze medal after posting a 1.99 GAA and .936 save percentage in 13 playoff games. The year before that, he led the league with seven shutouts in 42 games, backstopping his team to a silver medal.

This is a low-risk, medium-sized reward signing for the Blackhawks, who could use some more young goaltending depth in the pipeline, especially given how this season unfolded with the big club.

Raddysh

The Blackhawks signed Raddysh to a one-year AHL contract last June, and he turned it into an NHL one after a strong season with the Rockford IceHogs.

Raddysh, 22, accumulated 22 points (five goals, 17 assists) in 66 regular-season games with the IceHogs, and has appeared in each of the team's playoff games en route to the Western Conference Final.

Last season Raddysh was named the OHL's top defenseman after scoring 16 goals and 65 assists for 81 points in 62 games for the Erie Otters, where he was teammates with current Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat. He's the Otters' all-time leader in assists (143) and points (184) among defensemen.

Raddysh might be nothing more than a depth defenseman, but his development is worth monitoring because the offensive production is there and that's something the Blackhawks lacked this past season from their back end.

Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa: 'I will not play hockey anymore'

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AP

Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa: 'I will not play hockey anymore'

Days after putting his Gold Coast condo on the market, Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa revealed to a Slovakian newspaper that he is moving back to his hometown country and doesn't plan on returning to the NHL.

"I will not play hockey anymore," said Hossa, who missed the entire 2017-18 campaign due to a progressive skin disorder and the side effects of the medications involved to treat it. "I have a valid contract with Chicago for the next three years, but I have only one health and it does not allow me to return."

Because he has three years left on a deal that carries a $5.275 million cap hit, Hossa is not expected to sign his retirement papers until the contract is completed or else it would result in salary cap consequences.

The news is not surprising, but it officially allows the Blackhawks to move on without him in the fold roster-wise and toy around with some options this summer.

The first is stashing his contract on long-term injured reserve, as they did last season when they utilized the in-season preference.

The second, which Hossa wondered could happen, is finding a trade partner that would absorb the remainder of his contract, usually done by lower payroll teams aiming to reach the cap floor.

And it wouldn't be difficult trying to find a buyer, considering Hossa's actual salary is $1 million per year over the next three seasons. Hossa, of course, has a no movement clause but it's likely he would waive it given his status at this point.

The good news for Chicago is, the three-time Stanley Cup winner didn't rule out joining the Blackhawks organization in some capacity after his contract expires in 2020-21, whether it's in a front office role or as a team ambassador.

In 19 NHL seasons, Hossa accumulated 525 goals and 609 assists for 1,134 points in 1,309 regular-season games, and added 149 points (52 goals, 97 assists) in 205 postseason contests. He's one of 45 players in league history to net at least 500 goals in his career.