Blackhawks

Blackhawks excited to be reunited with Andrew Ladd

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Blackhawks excited to be reunited with Andrew Ladd

Duncan Keith has remained good friends with Andrew Ladd since their first go-around as teammates.

The two have places near each other in British Columbia and train together.

“He’s one of my best friends in hockey,” Keith said late Thursday night.

So Keith is naturally happy to see his best friend as a teammate again after the Blackhawks acquired Ladd from the Winnipeg Jets. The players found out the team traded for Ladd when it was announced on the video board during the first period. For Keith, it was welcome news.

“It’s a huge acquisition for us,” Keith said. “He brings so many things to the table. On top of what he can bring on the ice there are so many things off the ice he’ll bring to our team in the locker room: that leadership and experience. He’s a guy who basically plays any position or any situation. The biggest thing he brings is that hunger to win, and the ability to play in those tough playoff games.”

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Whenever Ladd does get here, he’ll start with two familiar teammates: Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, as the Blackhawks may have finally solved their top-line, left-wing issue.

“You know what Andrew Ladd’s intention is coming here,” Toews said. “You know what he wants to accomplish and a lot of the guys do know what type of person and player he is. So that transition will be as easy as possible. We’re looking forward to it.”

Yes, unlike some of the Blackhawks’ recent trade-deadline acquisitions, there will be no adjustment period. At least there shouldn’t be. Ladd spent three previous seasons with the Blackhawks, during which time he got acquainted with Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and eventually Marian Hossa.

“He’s got some real close friends on our team. That can alleviate things quickly, knowing he’s been here, he’s won with this group and is close friends with some of the guys,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “He’ll be welcome with open arms and opportunity’s going to be great. He’s a great addition at this time of the year, for us and for him. The transition should be relatively seamless.”

[MORE: Blackhawks acquire Andrew Ladd from Winnipeg in blockbuster deal]

For Ladd, he’s getting back with teammates who are a few years older, who have honed their games and have learned how to win in the postseason – a couple of times.

“They know how to play the right way,” Ladd said. “Their ability to have such a big impact and big games, they always have big moments at crucial times and that’s what’s made them great. Anyone’s excited to be a part of that again. It’s a treat to watch some of those guys play. You have such a great appreciation for what they do day in, day out, when you play with them each and every day. I’m excited to see them again.”

The Blackhawks are happy to see Ladd again, too. They’ve had a good season thus far; bringing back a familiar player could make it that much better.

“We keep in touch throughout the year, so it’s something we talked about, the potential of that happening,” Keith said of Ladd returning. “We’re all excited to have him.”

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.