Blackhawks

Sharp-Kruger-Stalberg line experiencing success

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Sharp-Kruger-Stalberg line experiencing success

Patrick Sharp rolled off his linemates talents, and why, combined, theyve been so successful. There was Marcus Krugers tenacity and fearlessness and Viktor Stalbergs speed and burgeoning confidence.

Sharps contribution?

Im just out there to look pretty and shoot the puck, he said to laughs.

Yes, between Sharps shooting and Kruger and Stalbergs work, the Blackhawks second line has been potent lately. And despite not getting on the score sheet much in the teams 4-3 shootout victory over St. Louis on Thursday, theres no doubt it was the Blackhawks best line of the night. Theres chemistry among the three of them, and its paid dividends for the Blackhawks.

Weve got a little bit of everything, Stalberg said. Weve got a shooter in Sharpie. And (Kruger) gets the pucks in our hands with a lot of speed, and thats something you look for in a center.

As much as Sharp could play center if need be, just looking at his numbers reminds you why hes best on the wing. Despite missing eight games with a broken wrist, Sharp has 31 goals, just three shy of last years total and five away from his career-best 36 of 2007-08. Sharp has never been shy about taking his shots, and he had a team-high seven against St. Louis.

The rookie Kruger has emerged as a solid No. 2 center for the Blackhawks. Hes not the biggest guy 6-foot, 181 pounds but Kruger nevertheless plays a crashing, fearless style that compliments the lines speed and shooting.

Hes been doing it all year for us, Quenneville said. I think whether hes productive offensively, you know that he brings so many other things to the table and to his linemates. He sustains a lot of pucks offensively, he can make some plays, hes sneaky good offensively and very reliable and predictable defensively.

As for Stalberg, his game is starting to come full circle. While the scoring potential has always been there Stalberg has 19 goals entering the final four regular-season games his puck possession has improved throughout the season. Quenneville said, I know hes had some good games and Id put that in the list at the top of it, as far as the impact and the influence he had shift to shift.

Stalberg said hes felt more confident as the seasons progressed.

Ive been getting roles to hold onto the puck a little more. Its something I like, something I used to play more in college and in the minors, Stalberg said. I havent had the chance or confidence to do it in this league yet, but the last 20 games I feel like I can do things and try to be a threat every night. Playing with those guys, its a good combination.

It has been a good combination. The three have built good chemistry, good instincts around each other. All in all, its been pretty successful.

That line has, in the last two games, been outstanding, Quenneville said. They have some speed off the rush, a lot of cycle time and a lot of puck possession, and theyre a threat with their quickness off the rush. They all complement one another.

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.