Blackhawks

Five Things: Blackhawks' Marian Hossa is still a tremendous two-way player

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Five Things: Blackhawks' Marian Hossa is still a tremendous two-way player

Once upon a time I received an email that started off, “You’re good, you’re not great.”

Besides being the greatest start of any email ever, that could also describe the Blackhawks on Saturday night: good, not great. As we’ve written here a few times already, however, that’s to be expected after all the offseason changes. Still, the Blackhawks did a few more things right in their 4-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

[MORE: Blackhawks offense wakes up in win over Blue Jackets]

So while we all try to get past good and onto great, let’s look at the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory.

1. Marian Hossa is still a tremendous two-way player. Speaking of great… Hossa was already having a strong game on Saturday when he picked Matt Calvert’s pocket and scored a 5-on-3 goal that gave the Blackhawks a 3-0 lead at the time. The ageless Hossa never ceases to amaze those who see it on a nightly basis. “That was a pretty special play,” Corey Crawford said. “He didn’t quit on that one. We lost the puck at the blue line and he came back and did the rest.”

2. Brandon Saad’s emotional night. You wondered what the reaction would be when Saad returned to the United Center. He and the Blackhawks couldn’t work out a deal but Blackhawks fans greeted him with loud applause and a standing ovation during a first-period video tribute. Saad’s in a much different place now, playing for a Columbus team that’s gotten off to a surprisingly bad start. But Saad did some tremendous things in his time in Chicago, and fans showed how much they appreciated that on Saturday.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

3. A nice debut for Mr. Hinostroza. Vinnie Hinostroza was probably a jumble of nerves when he made his NHL debut on Saturday night but he looked pretty calm on the ice. He brought some stability and a threat to that third line, which had been mediocre through this early season. We’ll see if Hinostroza’s in the lineup when the Blackhawks play on Florida, but he certainly had an energetic start on Saturday.

4. Anisimov answers again. Artem Anisimov gets overshadowed playing with Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane. He’s the non-flashy, non-showy portion of that line. But he’s a steady part of that trio, a big body who will go to the net. He did that again on Saturday and earned his second goal of the season on another backhand shot.

5. Bickell “OK” on the top line. If you’ve listened to coach Joel Quenneville for any amount of time, you know that when he says a player is “OK,” as he said Bryan Bickell was on the top line on Saturday, he means player was not good. So, who’s next at that left-wing spot with Jonathan Toews and Hossa?

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.