Blackhawks

Blackhawks: Patrick Sharp has emotional return to Chicago

patrick-sharp-stars-10-03-15.png

Blackhawks: Patrick Sharp has emotional return to Chicago

Patrick Sharp stood in the hallway, catching up with some former teammates after the Blackhawks-Dallas Stars game.

It was a strange feeling to be at the United Center as a visitor, for sure.

“It was a little difficult to be honest with you,” Sharp said after the Blackhawks beat the Stars 4-0 in the preseason finale for both. “I’m kind of happy to do it in the preseason to get a feel for what it’s going to be like a few times. Lot of emotions out there; I know it’s just a preseason game, but it’s kind of neat to be back in the United Center. Some very special things happened here for me.”

[MORE: Johnny Oduya reflects on time with Blackhawks in Chicago return]

Sharp was a cap casualty this past summer, but his transition to the Stars has been a good one thus far. Still, he spent 10 years with the Blackhawks, winning three Stanley Cups with them. It’s been just a little over three months since he hoisted that third Cup. So it was no surprise that the memories came flooding back.

“Probably just landing in Chicago and driving in. I haven’t been here since the week after we won,” Sharp said when asked the hardest moment on Saturday. “I mentioned it kind of feels like home, so it was a little difficult. Feeling yourself out to start the game was a little weird. But as the game went on it was just another hockey game. I play for the Stars now.”

Seeing Sharp in white and green on Saturday night was likely an adjustment for the United Center crowd. His ex-teammates had to take a few minutes to get used to it, too.

“Yeah, it was a little weird,” Marian Hossa said. “I met Sharpie and Johnny (Oduya) in the hallway [before the game], wearing a different sweater already. You hate seeing great guys leaving but on the other hand, it’s part of the business. It’s tough to see.”

[RELATED: Bryan Bickell ready to heed waiver wake-up call]

As much as the Blackhawks had a warm welcome for him before and after the game, they played Sharp like any other opponent during it. Sharp still got off a good number of shots, as always – he led the Stars with five. He was near Jonathan Toews not long after the Blackhawks captain took a slash from Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski.

So, any words exchanged there?

“No, that was not going to happen,” Sharp said.

Sharp dealt with the myriad of emotions on Saturday. Chicago will always be special for him. But the present is pretty nice, too.

“They’ve done a great job of welcoming my family and myself. We’re all moved in, ready to start the season,” Sharp said of the Stars. “I’m feeling good about hockey, feeling good about life away from the rink, and ready to go.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up for the 2015-16 Blackhawks season!]

BRIEFLY

— Corey Crawford was supposed to play the entire game on Saturday but Scott Darling replaced him near the halfway point of the second period. Coach Joel Quenneville said Crawford “felt he was a little tight,” and he was pulled for precautionary reasons. Quenneville added it was nothing serious – “we don’t expect him to miss a day.”

— Artemi Panarin had a nice preseason debut, recording two primary assists in the Blackhawks’ victory. Quenneville also liked the combination of Panarin, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane – “there’s something there,” he said.

— Michal Rozsival be placed on long-term injured reserve “could happen,” Quenneville said. The defenseman, who’s coming off that fractured left ankle he suffered in May, hasn’t practiced with the team yet. A player on LTIR would be unavailable for 24 days and 10 games.

Getting to know four newly-signed Blackhawks

dominik_kahun_ap.jpg
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'

marian_hossa_ap.jpg
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.