Blackhawks

Blackhawks: Brandon Saad deal proves NHL is just a business

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Blackhawks: Brandon Saad deal proves NHL is just a business

When the Blackhawks announced they were trading Brandon Saad, there were a lot who were stunned.

Apparently, that included Saad.

“A little shocked,” Saad said via conference call. “It’s my first time going through the process. At the same time it’s a business.”

Saad’s biggest introduction to this business we call the NHL came on Tuesday afternoon, when the Blackhawks traded him to the Columbus Blue Jackets in a seven-player deal. The forward said two weeks ago that he planned to re-sign with the Blackhawks but it didn’t happen. General manager Stan Bowman said the two sides never really got close to getting a deal done.

[MORE BLACKHAWKS: Blackhawks lock up newcomer Artem Anisimov]

“He’s a great young player, great young man. It was a joy to have him on our team and we certainly wish him the best in Columbus,” Bowman said on Tuesday. “From our perspective it’s difficult to make trades sometimes, especially in a case like this. But this is a business and we have a job to do and my job is to prep our team to remain competitive and win again next season.”

Bob McKenzie reported yesterday that Saad’s camp was asking for salary that came with an average cap hit of $6.5 million. Saad wouldn’t comment on what kept he and the Blackhawks apart on a deal, or what contract he could end up getting with the Jackets. A message sent to his agent, Lewis Gross, was not immediately returned.

Saad said he mostly stayed out of the negotiating process.

“As a player, I try to stay out of it as much as possible. You just try to play the game and have fun,” he said. “As for the business part, you try to take the emotion out of it. I let my agent do that and he keeps me informed and talks to me about things that are going on, but for the most part I let him do the work. He knows the business more than I do.”

As for Saad, the Blue Jackets will sign him. Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said on Tuesday that the team was already in discussions with Saad’s agent, Lewis Gross, on the deal. Kekalainen added that he’s not concerned if other teams have offer sheets for Saad.

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“We’re just going to match it,” he said. “We’re not in a vulnerable position with our cap situation where it would benefit anybody to try to offer sheet him. We would just match it.”

Saad may be only 22 years old but he already brings a strong winning pedigree to the Blue Jackets. Saad was a Calder Trophy finalist during his rookie year and claimed his second Stanley Cup in his first three seasons last month. He joins a Blue Jackets squad that’s trying to find some consistent success. Columbus made the playoffs in 2013-14, losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games. They hoped to build on that success last year but were derailed by a plethora of injuries; they finished 11th in the Eastern Conference.

“It’s definitely going to be a change,” Saad said. “At the same time they’ve had some tight playoff series where they’ve played well. I’m looking forward to going there and helping that team."

Saad’s pedigree will certainly benefit a Jackets team that has high hopes entering this season.

[ROTOWORLD: NHL Free Agency Live Blog]

“A winner. We’ve talked about this internally, with our team and with our management group, we want winners here and he’s a proven winner,” Kekalainen said of Saad. “He’s won two Stanley Cups, he’s 22 years old, he has speed, size, strength and he plays the game hard. He has an excellent work ethic on and off the ice. He brings a proven winner to our group.”

There was plenty of shock to go around when Saad was traded. Saad experienced some of it himself. His path is set and he’ll certainly get rewarded monetarily. Now the Jackets hope Saad can help them find more success moving forward.

“Things are going to happen and most guys don’t play their entire career in the same place,” Saad said. “I’m a little sad to leave because of the relationships that I’ve built with those guys [in Chicago], but this is part of the business and I’m excited about what’s in front of me with the Blue Jackets.”

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.