Blackhawks

Blackhawks ready to prove themselves against Coyotes

985749.png

Blackhawks ready to prove themselves against Coyotes

After their 5-2 victory in Los Angeles, the Blackhawks headed to Glendale, Ariz., where they'll face the Coyotes Sunday night. Catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet beginning at 8:30 with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

GLENDALE, Ariz. The Chicago Blackhawks first-round playoff series with the Phoenix Coyotes last season had a little bit of everything. Enough overtimes to fill a deadline writers nightmares, big hits some a little too big high drama, a good dose of venom and a couple of player suspensions.

Its intriguing stuff. And thanks to that six-game series that seemed so placid and harmless at the start, the Blackhawks and Coyotes are developing a little rivalry that continues tonight at Jobing.com Arena.

No, the Blackhawks-Coyotes isnt near the Blackhawks-Canucks matchups in terms of angst, bad blood and nastiness. OK, other than Blackhawks fans not being big on Raffi Torres, first for giving Brent Seabrook a concussion in the 2011 playoffs and then Marian Hossa last spring.

But theres still something there between the Hawks and Yotes, bred from the close and emotional series that led to another premature playoff end for the Blackhawks.

Ive always said if you play a team in the playoffs you all of a sudden have history with them. Even the next year, game by game, it gets more personal as it goes along, captain Jonathan Toews said. Theyll be ready to bounce back from their game (Saturday) and we have to do the same and be ready to play.

Patrick Sharp agreed.

Every time you face a team in the playoffs, theres always some bad blood, he said. Theyve got a lot of classy guys over there and theyre a respectful team. But theyre still the team that sent us home last year so we want to make sure we play our best.

For Hossa, the budding rivalry may take a bit of a backseat. His 2011-12 season ended in Game 3 with that Torres elbow to his head, and this is just his second game since then. Torres wont be playing tonight hes still serving seven more games from that 21-game suspension. And for Hossa, he doesnt look at this game as a hurdle to clear.

I dont think about it that way. Its just another game for me, said Hossa, who was asked about the potential emotional level tonight. To tell you the truth, I dont know what to expect. Im going to prepare as usual.

Andrew Shaw also had a front seat to last years series although he watched from afar for three of those games, his punishment for hitting Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith. He said this one could get feisty quick.

Every game gets a little snarly, he said. I just have to try to get under their skin, take pucks into dirty areas and hopefully contribute to the power play.

Blackhawks-Coyotes isnt Blackhawks-Canucks. But theres definitely some angst there that, as Toews said, could build with more matchups. Who knows if they could meet in the postseason again. Right now, the Blackhawks would settle for a little regular-season vindication.

Its the second game into the season and youre playing team that beat you in the playoffs, Shaw said. You cant wait to get at them.

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.