Blackhawks

Hossa enjoys a happy All-Star homecoming

655774.png

Hossa enjoys a happy All-Star homecoming

Updated: Sunday, Jan. 29 at 7:24 p.m.

KANATA, Ontario The applause hit Marian Hossa as soon as he stepped onto the ice at ScotiaBank Place this weekend. It was, as he called it, warm and welcoming, a fitting greeting for the forward who began his career here back in the late 1990s.

For Hossa, his fifth NHL All-Star Game appearance had special meaning mainly because of the location. The Chicago Blackhawks forward, who had a goal and two assists in Team Charas 12-9 victory over Team Alfredsson on Sunday, has never forgotten those first several years he spent with the Ottawa Senators.

And it was apparent this weekend that Senators fans have not forgotten him.

It was awesome, Hossa said about the weekend. Actually when I found out the game was here and I was picked, I was looking forward to it. Its not just another game. Its a special place to come.

It was an entertaining weekend for both Blackhawks forwards. Patrick Kane took center stage with his breakaway competition-winning Superman moment on Saturday and he added a goal to Team Charas victory on Sunday.

And Hossa just reveled in the four days here. Outside of his All-Star duties, he found time to visit friends that he still has in town. On the ice, he was part of Team Charas lethal top line with Pavel Datsyuk and fellow Slovak Marian Gaborik, who earned MVP honors with his hat trick and assist.

We just tried to move the puck and Gabby scored the first two quick goals, Hossa said. After that we just had fun. We were hoping he got the MVP.

In other words, Hossa wasnt too broken up about not getting that car the MVP is awarded.

That wasnt on my agenda, but Im glad I could help somebody get one, he said. We had good chemistry tonight and we got the MVP on our line, so that was our goal.

Hossas mind will probably be back to regular-season hockey as soon as he heads back to Chicago Sunday night. A game with the Vancouver Canucks looms on Tuesday. But for the last four days, Hossa enjoyed the place he once called home and the Ottawa faithful made him feel like it was that again.

I always had good memories here, he said. I guess people dont forget.

How Erik Karlsson’s extension with Sharks impacts Blackhawks, Western Conference

erik_karlsson_usa_today.jpg
USA TODAY

How Erik Karlsson’s extension with Sharks impacts Blackhawks, Western Conference

The 2019 NHL free agent class — both restricted and unrestricted — is absolutely loaded. But perhaps the biggest fish of them all has already been taken off the board.

Erik Karlsson and the San Jose Sharks have agreed to an eight-year extension worth $11.5 million per year, according to Cap Friendly, becoming the highest-paid defenseman in league history. It’s a significant move for the Sharks, who are looking to keep the band together and take a few more stabs at a Stanley Cup before their window starts to close — Joe Thornton is 39, Joe Pavelski turns 35 in July, Brent Burns is 34, Marc-Edouard Vlasic is 32 and Logan Couture is 30.

How the Sharks make the math work going forward will be fascinating to monitor. Thornton, if he doesn't decide to hang up the skates, is a UFA. Same with Pavelski, who is coming off one of the most productive seasons of his career. Both of those players have become part of the Sharks identity, but their futures aren't guaranteed. And then there are guys like Kevin Labanc and Timo Meier, both of whom are RFAs and due big raises.

So how does the Karlsson extension impact the Blackhawks and the rest of the Western Conference?

For starters, the UFA defensemen class just got thinner and that could lead to overpayment across the board from teams looking for impact-type blue-liners because general managers that are looking to make a splash don’t want to come away empty-handed. The Blackhawks were never going to be in on Karlsson, but his contract set the market for this year's class and the fact the signing came before the NHL Draft now gives teams that would've been in on Karlsson an opportunity to refocus ahead of the negotiating period.

In the bigger picture, the Sharks just solidified themselves as legitimate Stanley Cup contenders for at least the next couple seasons. While the Karlsson contract may not look the greatest on the back half, given his durability issues, the Sharks had no choice but to offer him a blank check. When healthy, he is a game-changer and a two-time Norris Trophy winner who's still in his prime, and if the Sharks win a title in the next couple years then it was well worth it. You don't let players like him walk.

The Blackhawks are expected to be aggressive over the next several weeks, particularly in free agency but also continuing to explore the trade market. We already saw that when they acquired defenseman Olli Maatta from the Pittsburgh Penguins, a move that could only be the first of many this offseason. The West might be top heavy, but this past season proved that any team can turn it around quickly and the Blackhawks need to do everything in their power to make sure they're one of those teams.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.

2019 NHL Draft Profile: C Dylan Cozens

dylan_cozens_nhl.jpg
NHL

2019 NHL Draft Profile: C Dylan Cozens

From June 10-20, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile one top prospect per day — 11 total — leading up to the 2019 NHL Draft as the Blackhawks prepare to pick third overall.

Dylan Cozens

Position: Center
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 180 pounds
Shoots: Right

Scouting report from Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley:

"Dylan Cozens is a two-way centerman who plays fast and he plays inside."

Scouting report from NHL draft expert Adam Kimelman:

"Guys who can move the way he moves at that size are rare. And when you add in talent, the work ethic, the skill, the hands in tight, the shot, he's the complete package. ... To me, he is the second-best center in this draft after Jack Hughes."

Cozens describes his own game:

Strengths: "I’d say my strength is just my skating. That’s the biggest thing: being able to use my speed to create separation between other players and allowing time and space for myself and my teammates. I’d also say my shot. I’m more of a shoot-first guy but I can still make a play. I’d think those are the two biggest things: my speed and my shot.

Improvements: "I just want to be strong on my stick in going into battles and when I’m on the puck. I think that’s the biggest thing. That will come with strength when I get to the next level and as I get older. That’s the biggest thing: just having the mentality going into every battle that you’re going to win it and being as strong on your stick as you can be."

NHL player comparable: Jeff Carter

Fit for Blackhawks:

The Blackhawks will have a pool of centers to choose from. Cozens has been one of the five candidates discussed as an option, and for good reason. He has all the tools to become an elite player in the NHL, which includes size, speed and skill. And perhaps a little bonus: He was very confident at the scouting combine that he could make the jump to the big leagues as soon as next season.

Cozens has often been compared to Carter, who has also played both center and wing in his career. The Blackhawks like when their forwards have some versatility and Cozens offers that. There aren't many flaws in Cozens' game, and his two-way prowess could make the Blackhawks' decision a difficult one.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.