Blackhawks

Five Things: Blackhawks get some secondary scoring

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Five Things: Blackhawks get some secondary scoring

On a roll. You could say that about a few Blackhawks right now. You could kind of say that about the Blackhawks, too, right now.

That mess in Nashville aside, the Blackhawks have looked good lately. With their 4-0 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday, the Blackhawks have won four of their last five games and ended the night second in the Central Division. There’s a long way to go, but the Blackhawks look like they’re getting into a rhythm.

So before we take off for the evening, let’s look at the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over the Canucks.

1. Corey Crawford is complacent no more. Crawford used that word to describe several of his recent games. Well, he’s apparently gotten over it. Crawford was sharp once again, recording his second shutout in as many starts. By our calculations, Crawford’s current shutout streak is 140 minutes, 46 seconds — the last goal he gave up was Nashville forward Eric Nystrom’s at 19:14 of the second period on Tuesday night. Crawford is tracking the puck well right now, and most of them have remained in front of him.

2. Patrick Kane keeps it going. It wasn’t your usual assist, but it was nevertheless a legitimate one — possession never changed — and Kane now has a 26-game point streak because of it. Getting these points early in games has helped the Blackhawks maintain focus where it needs to be: on getting the best team result. Kane’s focus has also been team first. He’s just scoring a hell of a lot of points in the process.

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3. Dennis Rasmussen finding his niche. The center has only been here for four games, but he’s making a great impact. Rasmussen scored his second goal in his brief stint here, a goal that he wishes he had held back on so Bryan Bickell could’ve gotten credit for it. Rasmussen blamed his instincts, but he shouldn’t have. He was aggressive and making sure a goal counted. Coach Joel Quenneville liked that line of Rasmussen, Bickell and Andrew Shaw on Sunday, another sign the Blackhawks’ lines might be coming together better.

4. Others are scoring. This is a bit of a continuation of the Rasmussen mention. It was him, Shaw and, for the first time in his NHL career, Brandon Mashinter contributing goals in the third period. The Blackhawks haven’t had enough of that this season, especially from the bottom six. As Crawford said, “We’ve had our other lines play well, but it’s nice to see those guys chip in with some goals.”

5. Sizzling at home. The Blackhawks still have some things to figure out on the road, and they’ll get a chance to do that later on this month. But right now they’re taking advantage of these December home games. The Blackhawks improved to 12-3-1 at the United Center this season. They’re currently second in the Central Division, and their home record has a lot to do with that.

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.