Blackhawks

Blackhawks bolster defense by reacquiring Johnny Oduya from Stars

Blackhawks bolster defense by reacquiring Johnny Oduya from Stars

A few days ago general manager Stan Bowman said he liked his defensive group, from what he had in Chicago to what was developing in Rockford.

But if the right move at the right price presented itself, Bowman said he’d consider it. On Tuesday the Blackhawks bolstered that defense after all, and with a familiar face.

The Blackhawks reacquired Johnny Oduya from the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night in exchange for Mark McNeill and a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2018 NHL draft, according to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun. Also, as first reported by Lebrun, the Stars will retain 50 percent of Oduya's salary. Oduya is in the final year of the two-year deal he signed with the Stars as an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2015.

The move brings Oduya back to Chicago, where he was part of the 2013 and 2015 Stanley Cup teams. It also adds a little more depth to a defense that has been stronger this season, but will be without Niklas Hjalmarsson (upper body) for a few more games. The Blackhawks placed Hjalmarsson on injured reserve on Tuesday night (retroactive to Thursday). Coach Joel Quenneville said Hjalmarsson will miss the next three games, hopeful the defenseman can return when the Blackhawks come off a four-day break.

In reacquiring Oduya, Bowman didn't give up much. TSN's Bob McKenzie reported that the conditional fourth-round pick could become a third-round pick in 2018, dependent on how much Oduya plays and how far the Blackhawks go into the postseason.

As for McNeill, he never broke through with the Blackhawks. A first-round draft pick (18th overall) in the 2011 NHL draft, McNeill played in just one game with the Blackhawks (last season, against the Carolina Hurricanes).

If there's any concern with Oduya it's how he is health-wise the rest of the way. The 35-year-old just returned from an ankle injury (one that was re-aggravated) that kept him sidelined for more than a month. Oduya, who had a goal and six assists in 37 games with the Stars this season, returned to Dallas lineup on Sunday vs. the Boston Bruins. But Stars general manager Jim Nill told the Dallas media that Oduya is fine.

"Health was an issue, but we had all the medical records and he's healthy now," Nill said following the deal. "He would have played [Tuesday] night if he wasn't getting traded, so that wasn't an issue."

As for how much talk there was with the Blackhawks regarding Oduya, Nill told the media, "they had him, won a Cup with him, they know what he brings, so they’re a team that was always talking to us."

When Oduya will join the team is uncertain at this time. The Blackhawks host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night.

Getting to know four newly-signed Blackhawks

dominik_kahun_ap.jpg
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'

marian_hossa_ap.jpg
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.