Blackhawks

Five Things: Crawford struggles in Blackhawks loss to Canucks

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Five Things: Crawford struggles in Blackhawks loss to Canucks

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – We’ve reached that point in the Circus Trip where the Blackhawks will go to a place that’s decidedly not about hockey – well, not yet, anyway.

The Blackhawks hit the midway point of this trip feeling the same way they did when they embarked on it: they’re looking for consistency, especially when it comes to results. They didn’t go into this break on a high note, dropping a 6-3 decision to the Vancouver Canucks. So before we enjoy our own two-day respite from hockey, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ loss to Vancouver.

[MORE: Sedins power Canucks past Blackhawks]

1. Patrick Kane keeps the point streak alive but… Kane didn’t sound too happy with his game at the moment. Sounds strange coming from a player who’s now on a 16-game point streak, a career best. But Kane said he has to get better. “I don’t know if I’m extremely happy with my game right now,” he said. “I want to improve a little bit here, especially going into the California trip, create more scoring chances out there. Hopefully a couple of days off and I’ll feel good going into California."

2. Corey Crawford “OK.” Again, that’s a coach Joel Quenneville assessment, which is never a positive one. Crawford dazzled us all a few days ago with his stop on Taylor Hall, which helped the Blackhawks stay in an overtime game they eventually won against the Edmonton Oilers. But on Saturday against the Canucks, when the rest of the Blackhawks played a pretty solid game, Crawford was not at his best.

3. An interesting top line. It seemed a bit odd to look down at pregame line rushes and see Jonathan Toews flanked by Andrew Shaw and Ryan Garbutt. But that line ended up being one of the most energetic of the night. Garbutt scored his first with the Blackhawks and Quenneville liked what the trio brought. Garbutt liked the combination, too. “Shawzy’s awesome to play with. I think we worked well together. We both play with speed and obviously Jonny just does what he does,” he said.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

4. The Sedins aren’t finished yet. Daniel and Henrik Sedin aren’t in their prime anymore but the twins reminded us all that they still can work their magic sometimes. Daniel Sedin had a hat trick and an assist and Henrik had a goal and four assists. The Canucks had won just one of their last eight games entering Saturday night; the Sedins gave them several reasons to enjoy this one.

5. A quick break, then back to business. Quenneville joked prior to the game that you could “flip a coin” on how the Blackhawks do in games before and after their Las Vegas portion of this trip. Well, that could describe the Blackhawks through this early season. They’ve had their ups and downs, and this isn’t how they wanted to go into this break. They need to rebound and finish the second portion of this trip strong, otherwise they could get lost in the Central Division shuffle fast.

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.