Blackhawks

Blackhawks lock up newcomer Artem Anisimov

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Blackhawks lock up newcomer Artem Anisimov

When the Blackhawks acquired Artem Anisimov in their deal that sent Brandon Saad to the Columbus Blue Jackets, signing the new center to a contract extension was a high priority.

On Wednesday morning, that was complete.

The Blackhawks signed Anisimov to a five-year extension, which will kick in at the start of the 2016-17 season. The Blackhawks don’t release salary details but Darren Dreger and Chris Johnston reported the deal was worth $22.75 million (a $4.55 million cap hit per season). Anisimov is in the final year of his current deal ($3.28 million cap hit).

[MORE HAWKS: Brandon Saad deal proves NHL is just a business]

“Every year they’ve battled for the Stanley Cup,” Anisimov said via conference call. “To sign for five years in Chicago is big for me.”

There was plenty of surprise to go around when the Blackhawks made their big trade on Tuesday. Anisimov didn’t know what was going on until yesterday afternoon.

“Everybody started calling me,” Anisimov said. “My agent said it was a possibility that Columbus was going to trade me. It was late yesterday when that came up.”

[MORE HAWKS: Blackhawks reportedly sign Russian forward Viktor Tikhonov]

The Blackhawks traded Saad when they could not reach a deal. General manager Stan Bowman said the two sides were never really close. So with that, the Blackhawks wanted to get as much as they could out of a trade. In this one they got Anisimov, a center they’ve been looking to get for some time. It’s a chance for the Blackhawks to solve their second-line center situation, which has been in flux for a few years now.

Anisimov is now one of three Russians that could be on the team this coming season. They signed Artemi Panarin two a two-year deal in late April and signed Viktor Tikhonov to a one-year contract earlier today. Tikhonov has played in the NHL previously but this will be very new territory for Panarin, and Anisimov said he plans to help the young forward adjust.

“I’m going to help him around, adapt him to the NHL a little bit,” Anisimov said. “It’s going to be good for us to have some Russians on this team."

[ROTOWORLD: NHL Free Agency Live Blog]

Anisimov got his long-term deal with a team that he’s watched hoist the Cup the last few years. The Blackhawks, in turn, got the guy who they hope answers their second-line center question for the next few seasons.

“For our needs, to know we’ve got [Jonathan] Toews and Anisimov for years to come, that was a big part of this,” Bowman said on Tuesday. “He’ll be here for a long time to come.”

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.