Blackhawks

Five Things from Blackhawks-Sharks: Crawford stays hot

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Five Things from Blackhawks-Sharks: Crawford stays hot

The Christmas break nears, but the Blackhawks still have some work to do before they kick back for a few days. They took care of some of that work on Sunday night.

Balanced offense and great goaltending was there again as the Blackhawks beat the San Jose Sharks 4-3 in overtime. The Blackhawks have won seven of their last nine games but their biggest pre-Christmas comes in Dallas on Tuesday. The Stars were the first team in the NHL to reach 50 points this season. The Blackhawks will be seeing former teammates Patrick Sharp and Johnny Oduya, who have been big parts of the Stars’ great start.

[MORE: Jonathan Toews nets game-winning OT goal vs. Sharks]

But before we talk about reunions in the city that once had Reunion Arena – I’ll show myself out – let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over the Sharks.

1. Andrew Shaw gets the big goal. Coach Joel Quenneville was happy with all the Blackhawks’ goals on Sunday – all were within close proximity of Sharks goaltender Martin Jones. But he was especially thrilled with Shaw’s, which tied the game 3-3 and came after the Blackhawks killed off two consecutive Sharks power plays in the third period. “Great timing,” Quenneville said. Indeed.

2. Playing the hot hand works. Quenneville’s decision to pull Corey Crawford to give the Blackhawks a 6-on-3 late in Saturday’s game in Buffalo proved a good decision. So did his choice of going with Crawford again on the back-to-back. This isn’t about any concerns regarding Scott Darling; Quenneville doesn’t have any. Crawford’s on a roll and Quenneville didn’t want to disrupt it. Crawford responded with a 33-stop outing. Said Crawford, “I’ll play as much as I can but that’s Q’s choice. We have a really good goalie, Darling, that’s played well since he’s come up here. Really, it’s just a matter of us both working hard and just waiting to see whoever he wants to put in the net.”

[SHOP: Hey Blackhawks fans! Get your copy of the One Goal III book]

3. Overtime suits Jonathan Toews well. The 3-on-3 version has been good to him, anyway. Toews’ game-winning goal was his 11th goal of the season and as well as his third overtime one. Toews had another shot earlier in overtime but it hit the post. The captain said he just decided “to get pissed off and use the energy the right way.” That, he did.

4. Gutting out games. The Blackhawks came back for the second time in as many games on Sunday — they were down 2-1 late in the first period and 3-2 in the third. There are going to be games like that every season, and the Blackhawks like how they’ve responded to these lately. “These are the ones you build on through the year,” Shaw said. “Team comes together and you find a way to win those tight, close games.”

5. Marian Hossa healing. It was somewhat surprising to find out Hossa was out of Sunday’s game with an upper-body injury, given he played all of Saturday’s game in Buffalo. But it doesn’t sound serious and the nearing Christmas break will give the Blackhawks’ right wing ample time to rest and probably be ready for the post-break game against Carolina. The Blackhawks need a healthy Hossa come the spring, so they’ll do what’s necessary to ensure he gets there.

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.