Hossa, Kane to be teammates at All Star Game

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Hossa, Kane to be teammates at All Star Game

OTTAWA, Ontario Marian Hossa had just one hope entering the All-Star draft. And he got it.

I got picked before Kaner, Hossa said of Patrick Kane. So thats a big win for me.

Hossa and Kane were selected fourth and 12th, respectively, by Team Zdeno Chara at the 2012 NHL All-Star Draft on Thursday night. The Blackhawks forwards will be teammates through this weekend, too, and theyll be joined by former Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell, who was Team Charas 11th pick.

So, for at least one night, a few of the 2010 Cup winners will be together again.

Yeah, I know when I was drafted (last year) I tried to put those things together, guys like (Martin) Havlat, (Dustin Byfuglien), (Jonathan) Toews, all those guys, Kane said. This year it worked out that all three of us ended up on the same team.

So will Hossa and Kane be on the same line together? Hey, its the All-Star Game. They could play some together but things could get switched around quite a bit. Either way, the players are going to enjoy it.

Im just looking forward to it, Hossa said. Being together on a team is awesome. And Soupys there, too.

The second-annual player draft yielded very few surprises. Team captain Daniel Alfredsson picked all of his Ottawa Senators teammates, the Sedin twins were kept together and away from the Boston players chosen by Team Chara -- and Chara chose fellow Slovak and friend Hossa.

The selection process was new to Hossa and Campbell, who were not part of last years festivities. Campbell said its been a while since hed been through something like that.

It kind of brings you back to the outdoor rink kind of thing, the playground, Campbell said. It was good.

Hossa found it interesting.

I didnt know what to think about it but it was fun, especially when it comes down to a few players. They were getting really nervous, Hossa said. Overall it was a good show.

TEAM CHARA

1. Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit
2. Tim Thomas, Boston
3. Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh
4. Marian Hossa, Blackhawks
5. Kimmo Timonen, Philadephia
6. Corey Perry, Anaheim
7. Carey Price, Montreal
8. Phil Kessel, Toronto
9. Ryan Suter, Nashville
10. Jimmy Howard, Detroit
11. Brian Campbell, Florida
12. Patrick Kane, Blackhawks
13. Dion Pfaneuf, Toronto
14. Jarome Iginla, Calgary
15. Dennis Wideman, Washington
16. Marian Gaborik, N.Y. Rangers
17. Jordan Eberle, Edmonton
18. Tyler Seguin, Boston
19. Jamie Benn, Dallas

TEAM ALFREDSSON:

1. Erik Karlsson, Ottawa
2. Jason Spezza, Ottawa
3. Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles
4. Claude Giroux, Philadelphia
5. Kris LeTang, Pittsburgh
6. Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay
7. Brian Elliott, St. Louis
8. Shea Weber, Nashville
9. Daniel Sedin, Vancouver
10. Dan Girardi, N.Y. Rangers
11. Keith Yandle, Phoenix
12. Milan Michalek, Ottawa
13. Henrik Sedin, Vancouver
14. James Neal, Pittsburgh
15. Alex Edler, Vancouver
16. John Tavares, N.Y. Islanders
17. Scott Hartnell, Philadelphia
18. Jason Pominville, Buffalo
19. Logan Couture, San Jose

Johnny Oduya finds a new home in Eastern Conference

Johnny Oduya finds a new home in Eastern Conference

Johnny Oduya is headed to the Eastern Conference.

The 35-year-old defenseman signed a one-year, $1 million deal with the Ottawa Senators. The contract could be worth up to $1.25 million with incentives.

Oduya, who the Blackhawks re-acquired prior to the trade deadline last season from the Dallas Stars, finished with two goals and seven assists in 52 games between the two teams.

It comes to no one's surprise that the Blackhawks didn't re-sign the veteran defenseman.

After being swept in the first round of the playoffs last season by the Nashville Predators, Stan Bowman has made it clear the Blackhawks are headed in a different direction, and their offseason has been plenty of busy so far. Headline deals included trading Oduya's linemate Niklas Hjalmarsson to the Arizona Coyotes for 24-year-old defenseman Connor Murphy and re-acquiring Brandon Saad from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Artemi Panarin.

Oduya heads to a Senators team which got ousted in the Eastern Conference Final in seven games to the eventual Stanley Cup Champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Confident Blackhawks youth ready to take the next step

Confident Blackhawks youth ready to take the next step

Ryan Hartman likes how he feels approaching this season, his sophomore stint with the Blackhawks. Scoring 19 goals, earning the trust of the coaches and gaining a good deal of responsibility in your rookie season will do that for you.

“It’s feeling like I should be there,” he said on Friday. “Maybe sometimes when you first get called up, you’re like, ‘Wow, I’m here,’ and you’re still thinking about that. Now it’s just feeling like hockey for me and how it’s always supposed to be.”

More confidence is there for Hartman, as well as a few other young Blackhawks players who cut their teeth last year. That’s good, because those guys, having shown what they can do, will likely get more responsibility this season.

That includes Nick Schmaltz, who will either get first crack at the second-line left wing vacancy or help the Blackhawks at center, which he says is his preference “but I’m fine with wing, too.” Schmaltz struggled to start last season but following a few games in Rockford, he returned a more confident player. He played well with Jonathan Toews and Richard Panik on the top line and filled in for Artem Anisimov later in the season.

“I was nervous coming in. I didn’t know if it was going to work and I gained confidence game by game and felt more comfortable,” he said. “I was making the plays I’m used to making.”

When Tanner Kero was recalled right before Christmas, it was because of Anisimov’s injury. But outside of a bye-week return to Rockford Kero turned that call-up into a full-time gig, giving the Blackhawks another bottom-six center option and earning himself a two-year contract. With Marcus Kruger and Dennis Rasmussen no longer here, Kero is expected to have that third- or fourth-line center role; thanks to experience gained last season, Kero’s more comfortable now.

“It was great,” he said. “Going in, you’re not sure. It’s day-to-day to start and you just want to prove yourself and get those opportunities, get trust and more ice time. As the season went on I got more confident, trusted my game more. Going into the season I’m going in with a lot more confidence.”

John Hayden felt fairly comfortable when he joined the Blackhawks last spring thanks to his senior season at Yale – “I needed that fourth year as a player and a person,” he said. Still, getting in some NHL games, getting a feel for the pro level and gaining familiarity with the Blackhawks will benefit him in September.

“It’s important considering it’s my first training camp and I’ll know a lot of the guys, which helps a ton. From an on-ice standpoint, I have that experience,” he said. “I’ve spent a ton of time addressing areas in need of improvement all in all I’m excited for training camp.”

But Hartman and others don’t see it as weight on their shoulders.

“I don’t think there’s pressure,” Hartman said. “When you look back you want to see improvements every year, you want to see yourself becoming a better hockey player. That’s something I want to do, I want to be able to look back and say I had a good career my first year but each year I got progressively better. That’s where my mindset is at.”

There’s more opportunity for the young players but Hayden says that’s true of everyone.

“I don’t really analyze opportunity. Regardless of the team, it’s going to be competitive,” he said. “Every summer you have to have a hard-working mindset and do what you can to show up in the fall in the best shape of your life.”

The Blackhawks’ young players have all set the bar at a certain level and will be expected to improve. It takes confidence to take that next step. Thanks to experience gained last season, they’re feeling good about taking it.