Blackhawks

NHL Central Division roundup: Blues display consistency in November

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NHL Central Division roundup: Blues display consistency in November

The standings are beginning to take shape through the first two months of the season. Let's review how November played out for each team in the Central Division.

Chicago: The Blackhawks finished October with a 6-5-0 record, and started a bit slow in November too, going 2-2-1 in their first five games. But in the final eight games of the month, Joel Quenneville's club turned it on, picking up at least a point in seven of those games, including a 3-1-2 record during their annual Circus Trip. Patrick Kane extended his point streak to 19 games, setting a new record for longest by an American-born player, and was named the NHL's No. 1 star for November.

[MORE: Blackhawks: Patrick Kane named NHL's No. 1 star for November]

Colorado: It was a roller coaster November for the Avalanche, whose 3-6-1 record in October was by far the worst start out of any team in the Central. Colorado went on a three-game winning streak and outscored its opponents by 10 in those three games, but followed it up with a three-game losing streak and were outscored by 9. If a rapid turnaround doesn't occur in December, the Avalanche may look to make not only roster changes, but personnel changes.

Dallas: The Stars are still just as hot as they were in October, if not hotter in November. They're 5-0-0 in games following a loss, and have followed up each of those losses with winning streaks of 5, 3, 3, 5, 2 (and counting). Dallas played four Central Division opponents the first two months of the season. They'll play six in December, three against the Blues, who aren't far behind in the standings.

Minnesota: The Wild went 3-1-0 in their first four games of November, and appeared to be showing no signs of slowing down. But then they suffered a big blow to their roster when Zach Parise was sidelined for several weeks with a knee injury as the team spiraled to a 1-4-2 record in their final seven games of the month. Minnesota saw its goals per game average slip from 3.18 at the end of October to 2.86 in November, and although it still ranks ninth-best in the league, the Wild aren't getting enough consistency on offense. Their defense isn't helping, either, allowing 2.77 goals per game, which ranks in the bottom 10.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Nashville: Not getting enough secondary scoring has been a long-time problem for the Predators, and it was evident their inconsistency on offense hasn't been solved. After finishing October with a 7-1-2 record, Nashville went 5-6-2 in November, and got only one goal from Filip Forsberg, the team's leading scorer last season. The Predators are ready to take the next step, but it won't happen without additions on offense.

St. Louis: The Blues got off to a fantastic start in October (8-2-1) and, considering the circumstances, their November (7-4-2) was just as good. Jake Allen has emerged as the No. 1 goaltender for a team that has been searching for one, and Paul Stastny returned to the lineup after missing more than a month with a broken foot. Eight of their 16 games in December will be against divisional opponents, which will be a good test to close out the calendar year.

Winnipeg: No team in the Central had a more lopsided first two months of the season. The Jets were 7-3-1 with a plus-6 goal differential in October, but finished November with a 4-9-1 record and a minus-19 goal differential, slipping to sixth place in the division. December will be a month the Jets decide whether to become buyers or sellers, and, by the end of the month, will have a better grasp on whether to trade Dustin Byfuglien, who's an unrestricted free agent this offseason, before the trade deadline or sign him to a long-term extension.

Previous roundups: October

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.