Blackhawks

Five Things: Joel Quenneville reaches milestone

1-12-quenneville-blackhawks.png

Five Things: Joel Quenneville reaches milestone

Ailing forwards, clicking lines and a surging team: when you’re a coach you deal with the ups and downs of your squad on a nightly basis.

Coach Joel Quenneville had a little bit of everything on Tuesday night, as well as a nice milestone for himself in the Blackhawks’ 3-2 victory over the Nashville Predators. Allow us to terminate the suspense: here are Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory, their eighth straight.

1. Congratulations, Q. The Blackhawks’ coach tied one of the greats on Tuesday night, claiming his 782nd triumph to tie Al Arbour for second on the all-time coaching victory list. Being a player’s coach means understanding what your players need on a game-by-game basis, as well as off days. The Blackhawks say Quenneville gets that as well as anyone. In turn, his players just win for him. “It’s nice to see him get rewarded with another contract,” Corey Crawford said. “I mean, he’s one of the best and we have a lot of respect for him and he knows exactly how to get the best of his players. We’re all happy for him.”

2. Paging Panik, Mr. Richard Panik. The newest member of the Blackhawks got a big surprise in the early evening: Artem Anisimov was sick and the Blackhawks needed Panik to get ready for tonight’s game fast. Panik did, jumping on the Blackhawks’ third line. It was a tough game for a new player to get integrated in, considering how many penalties there were. But Quenneville was happy with Panik’s debut, saying the forward, “made a good first impression.”

[SHOP: Get your Blackhawks gear here]

3. Crawford comes up big again. We mean this in the most last-second sense possible. Ryan Johansen was a gnat’s eyelash away from tying the game and getting the Predators at least a point. Instead Crawford came up with one more save – his 41st of the game. Coming out of Tuesday’s victory, Crawford is tied for second in the league in victories (24) and seventh in save percentage (.927). His six shutouts still lead the NHL.

4. Shaw finding his rhythm. You could say that for the whole top line but, much like the Blackhawks wanted to get Marian Hossa going, they wanted to do the same with their net-front presence guy. That’s where Shaw was for both goals, knocking in a Hossa rebound on his first goal and streaking toward the net and scoring off a Hossa pass on his second. Greasy goals are good for him, aren’t they? “Greasy goals are good for anyone,” he said.

5. Two points behind Dallas. Yes, that’s not something many were expecting when the Blackhawks went into Christmas break. They were playing fine hockey then, but a 4-0 loss to the Stars on Dec. 22 was a punch to the gut. Yet here they are, exactly three weeks later, trailing the Central Division-leading Stars by just two points. The turn of the new year has been a good turn for the Blackhawks.

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.