Blackhawks

Second line shines again as Blackhawks top Islanders

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Second line shines again as Blackhawks top Islanders

The Blackhawks’ second line of Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane has gotten the lion’s share of the publicity this early season, and for good reason.

The trio has been the steadiest and most productive combination, by far, for the Blackhawks. And on Saturday, that continued.

Panarin had a goal and two assists, as did Kane, and Trevor van Riemsdyk scored his first career NHL goal in the Blackhawks’ 4-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Saturday night. The Blackhawks took the weekend back-to-back against the Islanders and have now won two of their first three games this season.

Scott Darling, in his first start of the season, stopped 28 of 29 shots for the victory. Brent Seabrook scored his first goal of the season, a 5-on-3 power-play goal, late in the game.

The Blackhawks have been trying to figure things out with their other three lines. A different player has been with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa each game – tonight it was Ryan Garbutt. Teuvo Teravainen was back centering the third line and was much more proactive. Last season’s fourth line of Andrew Desjardins, Marcus Kruger and Andrew Shaw was reunited tonight.

The one constant amid all the early season line shuffling, however, has been the Panarin-Anisimov-Kane. At one point, the three had possession in the Islanders’ zone for so long, it looked like they were on a power play. Oh, and they scored on that possession (Kane).

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“It’s something special,” van Riemsdyk said. “They’ve been playing so well together. Every time they’re on the ice they’ve got it in the offensive zone, just making stuff happen. When that’s going on, as a D-man, you’re just trying to make room for them and let them operate and do their thing.”

The Arty Line, as coach Joel Quenneville called the group after Saturday’s game, has been doing just that for three games now.

“They’ve been fun to watch,” Quenneville said. “Some special plays and special players. Their puck possession is what we try to instill and enforce, and these guys know how to protect it and instinctually know where each other is. I still think there’s growth in our game, whether it’s on the lines, our overall pace and our thought process. But I like how we’ve improved.”

The Blackhawks have steadily improved in their first three games. Gone on Saturday were the mistakes they made on Friday, those bad passes that nearly turned into Islanders goals. Darling was strong from the start, stopping what opportunities the Islanders did have. The Blackhawks’ offense did the rest, be it that second line or defensemen van Riemsdyk and Seabrook getting in on the scoring.

For van Riemsdyk, who thought he had his first career goal last season – it was, instead, credited to former teammate Kris Versteeg – Saturday’s game was worth the wait.

“It’s nice when it comes in a win the way it did,” he said. “The first one [last year,] I was unsure. This one feels a little better, knowing it was mine. So yeah, definitely a moment I’ll always remember.”

After some ups and downs in their first two contests, the Blackhawks found steadiness in their game on Saturday night. That second line has been steady from the start.

“There’s an infinite amount of skill on that line,” Darling said. “They had that one shift that put everyone in a daze just watching them pass the puck around, pass the puck around. They were great all night. It’s nice to have them on the team.”

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.