Blackhawks

Blackhawks mailbag: Shaw, Bickell and defensive options

Blackhawks mailbag: Shaw, Bickell and defensive options

The NHL offseason is officially upon us. The Blackhawks’ brass has had plenty to think about while the postseason played itself out. The buyout window opens on Wednesday, the draft is a little more than two weeks away and free agency begins on July 1.

So for the Blackhawks, what happens now? For the umpteenth summer they’ve got some decisions to make and a tight budget with which to deal. The 2017-18 salary cap hasn’t been released yet. But according to several reports it’s unlikely to go up much, if at all, from the $71.4 million cap of last season. The Blackhawks have been up against the cap for years now, so this is nothing new. Neither is their losing a key player due to the crunch. Yeah, it’s probably happening again his summer, too.

As one could predict, most of the questions for this mailbag are about Bryan Bickell and Andrew Shaw. So let’s get to it.

Steve Potts (@SPendHawk): Will Bickell get bought out? Seems like the best option with the cap vs. forcing a solid young asset into a trade.

Probably. The Blackhawks have tried to trade Bickell already and it’s not working, and I certainly wouldn’t give up a valuable asset in a package for him. So the buyout is very likely. Keep in mind if the Blackhawks do that they’ll be on the hook for $1.5 million in 2017-18. But what looms larger is the $3 million that would come off the books now. Considering the 2016-17 cap will go up very little, if at all, they need that money now, regardless of how the Shaw situation ends.

Speaking of that, Mike Fortier (@mike48007) asks, “If they buy out Bickell, does that save enough on the cap to sign Shaw?”

Not necessarily. Again, where does the cap settle? How much does Shaw and his camp ask for? Not only that, but the Blackhawks still have holes to fill on the roster. Saving $3 million is nice for a money-crunched team, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be enough to keep Shaw.

Steve Suffredin (@stevesuffonair): How do you believe the Hawks will address the blue-line deficiencies this offseason? Something has to give.

They’ll do what they can with the limited amount of cash they have. But let me play devil’s advocate for a second here: the Blackhawks’ blue-line situation isn’t horrible. You had three guys (Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson) who played a ton of hockey from 2013-2016. That was going to catch up, and I believe it did. Having those three back there would still be a dream for a lot of teams. I know some weren’t too happy with Trevor van Riemsdyk but getting that full season will help him going forward. Young guys will get better; not every player is Keith right out of the gate. The Blackhawks obviously have high hopes for recent signee Michal Kempny. Ville Pokka could get his chance. If anything, perhaps the Blackhawks find a serviceable veteran on the cheap but they can’t afford much more than that.

tems.zori_19 (@fatems_19): Who is the biggest priority for the Blackhawks to re-sign?

First is Shaw. After that, Artemi Panarin. If I’m them, I get that done as soon as possible. As of now the Blackhawks should have more wiggle room for 2017-18, which is when Panarin’s possible new deal with kick in (keep in mind, though, if the Blackhawks do buy out Bickell, it means a $1.5 million cap hit in 2017-18). Panarin has a nice little situation here: a fellow Russian teammate (Artem Anisimov) and a tremendous on-ice chemistry with Patrick Kane. As long as the Panarin camp doesn’t try to squeeze the Blackhawks for more cash than they already have, this needs to get done.

Marie Manning (@Marie_Manning): Thoughts on (Matt) Murray deserving Conn Smythe over (Sidney) Crosby?

There’s no doubt Murray’s work during the postseason was commendable and you could make the argument for him. You judge the whole postseason for a Conn Smythe candidate, but just to play devil’s advocate, look at the Penguins’ last few games vs. the Sharks. The Sharks were generating little to nothing – two shots in the third period of Game 6? Eek! I probably would have gone for Kris Letang, considering how much the Penguins leaned on him especially after Trevor Daley’s injury. The Penguins had a few worthy candidates.

Dom Palombo (@dompal88): Buffalo’s been a rumored trade partner for Shaw. Hawks could get McCabe or Slavin/Pesce from Carolina. Thoughts?

I’m always hesitant to address rumors, unless I’ve heard something or one of the best in our business have reported a possibility, and this is the first I’ve heard of this one. That being said, the Blackhawks have to try and get something out of Shaw if they can’t sign him, much like they did with the Brandon Saad trade to Columbus last summer.

Sally Daly (@DalySally): What is the grapevine saying about Calder Trophy odds for next week? Canadians are supposed to favor McDavid?

As Han Solo said, “never tell me the odds.” Seriously, I ignore all the odds stuff; just not my thing. Plus, I never talk to fellow writers about for whom they’re voting. None of my business. I wouldn’t just assume Canadian writers are automatically going for the Canadian playing in Canada. McDavid is a tremendous talent, and even with his injury he’ll be right up there in the voting. It was one hell of a rookie class this season. I still think Artemi Panarin has the edge but we shall see soon enough.

Austin Larson (@alarson2201): Do you think the Blackhawks will try to sign Brian Campbell to a deal?

Doubtful. Again, the Blackhawks don’t have much cash with which to work. Meanwhile, the Panthers have boatloads of it. Here’s another thing: would Campbell want to come back? Let’s go back to when Campbell was traded in the summer of 2011. At that time and again during his first season with the Panthers, Campbell talked of how much he enjoyed being back on a Dale Tallon team, that, “you’re not walking on eggshells around here.” Yes, those were his thoughts several years ago; things change. But long story short, mainly due to the money situation, I don’t see it happening.

Papa Bearfighter (@Papabearfighter): Any LA counterparts hearing anything about a Rob Scuderi buyout? All three teams have cap issues. Might make sense?

I didn’t answer this correctly the first time around, so Take 2. The Blackhawks, Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins are all paying portions of Scuderi’s salary. According to generalfanager.com’s buyout calculator, the annual buyout cost for Scuderi (over the next two seasons) would be $833,333 per season. That would be split among the teams, “equally, as per the retained salary amounts.” In related news, I still hate math.

Woods (@chicagofire44): Who you watching at Wimbledon men’s/women’s? And what do you see the Hawks looking for at the draft? Best available?

No massive rooting interest at Wimbledon, other than I’d love to see Roger Federer stay healthy and get at least one more title. As for the draft, we’ll see what the Blackhawks do. As of now they don’t even have a pick until the third round (83rd overall). I think they would go the defensemen route first, since they’ve lost more organizational depth there the last few years.

Froggy V (@PoolFroggy): Why do the Hawks get very few Saturday home games?

Will have to get back to you on this. But I can only assume that it’s because the United Center, between Blackhawks, Bulls and concerts galore, is a very busy building.

Angie Linton (@angielintonindy): Any summer vacation plans? Loved your Paris pics last year.

Very fortunate that I’ll be heading back there this summer again, although I’m probably going to keep the pictures at a minimum. But thank you!

Gettingthenumbersup (@Gettingthenumbe): 1. Don’t you hate getting unrealistic questions? 2. When is the press conference to announce (Dave) Bolland’s return?

1. Yes and, 2. I see what you did there.

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.