Blackhawks

In the know: Blackhawks-Blues will entertain again

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In the know: Blackhawks-Blues will entertain again

We interrupt this story for a disclaimer: this is a Blackhawks-Blues playoff series preview, or something kind of like it. But any chance of us telling you something about these two teams you don’t already know is purely coincidental.

See, whether you’re a fan of the Blackhawks or the Blues, you know plenty about each. That’s what happens when you have a longstanding division rivalry that will continue when the two face each other in the first round later this week.

You know these two don’t really like each other. It’s not the same level of hate that the Blackhawks had vs. Vancouver a few years ago (seriously, that was really nasty) but it’s not the diplomatic, milder hate the Blackhawks had vs. the Detroit Red Wings when they were in the Central Division. Granted, the dislike factor only grows each time these two meet in the postseason.

[MORE: Blackhawks to face Blues in first round of Stanley Cup Playoffs]

You know each team has plenty of skill, including über-talented Russian forwards. Artemi Panarin has been a welcome find for the Blackhawks this season, although the offensive boost he’s provided them is going to cost them some cash and cap next season (he secured $2.575 million worth of performance bonuses in Saturday’s regular-season finale). For the Blues, Vladimir Tarasenko is always a threat. Just ask the Blackhawks: in 15 games against them, Tarasenko has eight goals and five assists.

You know that this series is going to be a physical one because it always is. The Blues will dole out a majority of those hits, because that’s been a big part of their game for many years. The Blackhawks will absorb a lot of those hits, because that’s how most of the opposition tries to slow them down.

You know that, despite having their injuries this season both teams should enter this series relatively healthy. Coach Joel Quenneville said on Saturday night that he expects the Blackhawks’ injured parties (Marian Hossa with a lower-body injury and Andrew Shaw and Artem Anisimov with upper-body injuries) will be ready for Game 1. Robby Fabbri returned in the regular-season finale while David Backes should be ready for the series start.

[SHOP: Get your Blackhawks gear right here]

What none of us know is who wins this time. Both teams have shown comeback abilities, be it the postseason or regular season, against each other. The Blackhawks overcame a 2-0 deficit against the Blues in the 2014 first round, and that was after the Blues came back in those first two games to take a 2-0 lead. This season the Blues have rallied to beat the Blackhawks twice: the first meeting in Chicago (a wild 6-5 overtime game won by Tarasenko) and the last meeting in Chicago (a wild-in-the-waning-minutes 2-1 overtime game won by Tarasenko).

So get ready for another series between the Blues and Blackhawks. It’ll be tough, it’ll be passionate and it’ll be entertaining.

But you already knew all of that, didn’t you?

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.