Blackhawks

Blackhawks plan practice, rest during slow week

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Blackhawks plan practice, rest during slow week

When the Blackhawks hit the ice this week, they’ll be doing it more for practices than for games.

Such is the NHL schedule: after going at a breakneck pace through December and January, the Blackhawks face a very quiet week. So will they be watching what’s going on with the busier teams in the Central Division?

“Not a lot,” Andrew Shaw said. “I mean you want to seal your own fate. You want to go out there and win every game; you don’t want to worry on another team losing games. You just do what you can to win your games.”

Yes, but the Blackhawks won’t have many opportunities to win or lose this week. After a busy schedule, the Blackhawks will play just two games between now and next Tuesday (they host the Nashville Predators on Thursday and the Washington Capitals on Sunday morning). The Dallas Stars, who are one point behind the Blackhawks in the Central Division, will play five. That busy Stars' schedule begins tonight when they’re at the Winnipeg Jets and ends next Tuesday when they face the Predators.

So how does a team that does so well when it’s busy handle a very quiet week?

“It’s always a key when you have these days off – they seem pretty rare – to make the most of them. Whether it’s rest or recovery, whatever you need, capitalize on that because obviously down the stretch it’s going to be pretty intense,” Trevor van Riemsdyk said. “There are a lot of really meaningful games so you have to be prepared for that. Any extra days off, you should focus on making the most of them, controlling what you can.”

[ROAD AHEAD: What should the Blackhawks do at the trade deadline?]

The Blackhawks are having a week similar to what the Stars had in early January, when Dallas had five days off (Jan. 10-14) between games. At that time, the Blackhawks were in the midst of a hot streak, eventually winning a franchise-record 12 consecutive games. Their winning streak, coupled with the Stars’ struggles at the time, catapulted the Blackhawks into first place in the Central Division. Will the Stars return the favor in this latest stretch? Maybe, maybe not, but the Blackhawks don’t plan on getting too caught up in what the Stars are doing this week.

“Some days you want to let your mind rest. Other times you want to watch and see how they’re doing,” van Riemsdyk said. “It’s just a daily thing; probably tune in here and there and other days make the most of the rest and take advantage of that.”

The Blackhawks have long been good about concentrating on their game and their needs instead of other teams. They’ll glance at the standings, they’ll make note of who’s doing what around them. But ultimately they need to worry about themselves and about playing well – when they do play this week.

“You always know where we’re at. We just try to focus on our game,” Teuvo Teravainen said. “That’s what we can really focus on, getting better and we’ll see what the other team’s doing.”

BRIEFLY

  • Patrick Kane and Niklas Hjalmarsson had maintenance days on Tuesday. Both are expected to play on Thursday vs. the Nashville Predators.
  • Erik Gustafsson, a healthy scratch on Sunday, should play Thursday against Nashville.
  • Marian Hossa (lower body) should start skating later this week, coach Joel Quenneville said. Quenneville added that it was“tough to say” if Hossa would be ready for the Blackhawks’ Detroit/Boston back-to-back in early March.
  • Marcus Kruger (wrist) skated on Tuesday but his timeline hasn’t change; he’s still not expected back until around the postseason’s start. Said Quenneville, “we know that his legs aren’t the problem. He’s still a ways away.”

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.