Blackhawks

Blackhawks getting more balanced scoring

Blackhawks getting more balanced scoring

Vinnie Hinostroza was understandably exuberant after scoring the game-winning goal against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night. It was great for him individually – his first goal since Nov. 19 – but also for the team, which is seeing more balanced and depth scoring.

“It’s obviously been great when you can get four lines to score,” said Hinostroza, who also scored against the San Jose Sharks on Sunday. “We’ll always have those two lines that will provide offense so it’s nice when the third and fourth lines chip in a little bit.”

Not too long ago we were bemoaning the Blackhawks’ scoring issues.

Oh, they’ve been pretty consistent in the winning category, even when the offense was anemic. They were always getting just enough to help the great goaltending. But lately, that scoring has come back in full force. The best part about it for the Blackhawks is, it’s not the usual suspects every game. Young guys, unsung guys, struggling-to-score guys, the Blackhawks are getting goals from all of them.

Last year one of the Blackhawks’ biggest problems was a bulk of their offense was coming from their second line of Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane. Those three are still doing well. Panarin, the NHL’s first star of the week, is coming off 10 points in four games. Anisimov, nursing an upper-body injury, has 14 goals and Kane has 10 goals, including one in each of his last two games.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!] 

But this year they’re getting help. Hinostroza has two goals in as many games. Dennis Rasmussen has two in his last six games. Trevor van Riemsdyk, Richard Panik, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Duncan Keith, Brian Campbell and Ryan Hartman have all scored goals in recent games.

And they’ve won games, too. Here are the game winners for the Blackhawks’ current five-game winning streak:

vs. Dallas Stars                Artem Anisimov

vs. New York Rangers     Artem Anisimov

vs. New York Islanders    Richard Panik

vs. St. Louis Blues           Vinnie Hinostroza

vs. San Jose Sharks        Ryan Hartman

Not bad, really.

The Blackhawks have been fairly steady all season despite issues they’ve had in their game. They can win games 1-0 and 2-1 but getting more offense is always welcomed. It was going to take time to get more balance on the lines, especially with so many young players in the lineup this season. But that balance is developing nicely, and the amount of players contributing goals has kept the Blackhawks rolling.

“It’s huge,” said Scott Darling, the beneficiary of the Blackhawks’ latest offensive outbursts. “We need everybody contributing and our big guys always do it. It’s nice for the other guys to help and while they’re still doing their job defensively.”

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.