Blackhawks

Stan Bowman: Price was right for Blackhawks to reacquire Johnny Oduya

Stan Bowman: Price was right for Blackhawks to reacquire Johnny Oduya

For general manager Stan Bowman, bringing back Johnny Oduya had been a possibility for some time. Getting him at the right price made it a reality.

Oduya, who arrived in Chicago on Wednesday but didn't play against the Pittsburgh Penguins that night, was acquired from the Dallas Stars in exchange for a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2018 NHL draft and Mark McNeill. The Blackhawks wanted to hang on to some of their prime assets, including draft picks for this summer's draft, which they host. But over the last few days each side got what it wanted.

"There comes a point when you have to keep your top assets, which I would say are your first- and second-round picks, as well as top prospects. When you have other discussions, those are the names that always come up and those are the assets they're asking for, and we weren't prepared to do that," Bowman said. "This was a price we're comfortable with. It allows us to maintain a lot of our prime assets going forward."

The familiarity Oduya has with the Blackhawks was certainly a selling point. But Bowman said it went beyond that, from Oduya's fitness level to previous work with Niklas Hjalmarsson to he's strength on special teams.

"In Johnny's case, he's still playing at a high level. He's always been incredible fitness level so he takes care of himself, trains hard, so that's the one thing we thought of," Bowman said. "The one element he may help us the most is the penalty kill, having another defenseman you can use. It can be problematic sometimes when one of your top defensemen takes a penalty and you're looking for guys you have that confidence in. Johnny's really strong in that area."

Coach Joel Quenneville said earlier today that they'll give Oduya, who's coming off an ankle injury, all the time he needs to get back to normal. Bowman said that had more to do with Oduya getting back to game pace than anything.

"He's played, so he's certainly not injured still," Bowman said, referring to Oduya's game on Sunday, his last with the Stars. "How sharp he is, that's the one thing. When you're out for a bit, it may take longer to get up to speed with the pace we want to play at. He may need a few more practices. We'll have a better sense of that [Thursday]."

Bowman said he wasn't really close to doing anything else. He reiterated what he said on Friday following the Tomas Jurco trade, that he was happy with how the forward lines have fallen into form and how the progress of young guys like Ryan Hartman, Nick Schmaltz and Tanner Kero has continued.

Now for the slightly tweaked Blackhawks to see if the right price they paid leads to the right results come spring.

"I really liked the team we had here, even before we were able to add Johnny to the mix. Certainly when we have him now it gives our team that full complement of experience, depth and especially on the defensive side," Bowman said. "Up front, you see the progression of a lot of our younger players. They've come a long way in the last couple of months to being difference makers on our team. So I like the way the group is looking from top to bottom."

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.