Blackhawks

Blackhawks: Phillip Danault adjusting well to NHL game

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Blackhawks: Phillip Danault adjusting well to NHL game

Phillip Danault figured it was going to take a little time.

The Blackhawks center was brought up for the first time last season but was in Chicago briefly. Recalled again in December, Danault had a better chance to get acclimated.

“I told my dad I needed five-to-10 games to get used to the NHL,” Danault said. “The execution is way different and details are so different. It’s been a great chance for me. I’m glad to take it.”

It’s not a surprise that Danault has been up the entire time since he was recalled on Dec. 18, the day after the Blackhawks learned they’d be without Marcus Kruger (wrist) until the start of the postseason. Now, 24 games into this season, Danault has adjusted to the NHL and to his checking-line center role with the Blackhawks.

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“He’s done a great job for us,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “He handled a big responsibility, takes a lot of defensive responsibilities and D-zone face-offs and sometimes you’re out there against top lines, a lot of starts in your own end and you’re expected to defend against top guys. We trusted him in that role right off the bat and that line has done a great job for us and everyone’s contributed in their own ways.”

It’s well known that the Blackhawks told Danault, when they drafted him, that they wanted him to be another Kruger. That wouldn’t be a problem for Danault, who said he’s been playing that two-way game since he was with the Victoriaville Tigres of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The adjustments, however, had to come as he advanced through the ranks.

“All the small details, execution, moving your feet; you can’t stand in the corner without moving your feet and protecting the puck here. That’s the big difference,” Danault said. “I kept my game from juniors but to be good here, as much as you have juniors, you have to take a couple of more steps and then you’re ready. You also need a coach who trusts you in all situations and I’m lucky to have that.”

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Quenneville trusts Danault and his linemates. He, Andrew Desjardins and Teuvo Teravainen have been together quite a while now (outside of a game or two in which Teravainen has played elsewhere when teammates have been out). Being part of the same trio has helped Danault’s NHL transition as well.

“It always takes time to get used to new linemates but we’ve been lucky to stay together and I think we’re playing great together and are very good defensively,” Danault said. “We bring offensive chances. The points aren’t coming but I don’t think that’s our job right now. [We have to] stay tight defensively and try to buzz in their zone as much as possible.”

Danault has a goal and four assists in his 24 games this season; a good part of that came in late December/early January, when that line was on a hot streak. In the 33 games he played before his injury, Kruger had one assist. Supplementary scoring isn’t the top priority for the checkers but it’s always welcome.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!

Points aside, Danault has done the job the Blackhawks needed him to do in Kruger’s absence. He knew it was going to take some time to adjust to the NHL game. This season, he’s gotten the chance to do so.

“I’m modeling my game after Kruger because he’s obviously the best defensively and on the PK. So when I came here I just wanted to prove I could play two-way and bring some offense at the same time,” Danault said. “I think it’s part of my game right now.”

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.