Chicago Blackhawks Bolstering Defense With Michal Kempny
Last week, it was reported the Chicago Blackhawks had interest in Kontinental Hockey League defenseman Michal Kempny. The blueliner reportedly was targeted by multiple NHL teams, so there was certainly no guarantee he would be coming to the Windy City.
It appears that’s far more likely now, however, with today’s news the Blackhawks are “very close” to signing Kempny. That news comes from Sport-Express hockey writer Igor Eronko, who tweeted the information from Barry Smith, the Blackhawks’ director of player development.
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There’s no news about how long or expensive a deal might be, but with Blackhawks General Manager Stan Bowman obviously aware of his team’s impending salary-cap crunch, you can expect this to be a deal that doesn’t handcuff the Blackhawks in terms of re-signing some free agents in the offseason. Kempny is able to sign an entry-level deal with the Blackhawks, which would certainly be to the benefit of the team.
Kempny, 25, is 6-feet and 174 pounds and spent the previous KHL season with Omsk Avangard. He tallied 7 goals and 18 assists across 70 games, regular-season and playoff. Kempny is currently listed on the Czech Republic’s World Cup of Hockey roster, with that event starting in mid-September.
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andTrevor van Riemsdyk
had their moments but struggled frequently as well, while guys likeErik Gustafsson
were either given a short leash or were just bad over varying stretches of time. Sometimes they were both of these things. Obviously not a good look for a team with Stanley Cup aspirations.
The Blackhawks know they’ll have a hard time picking up a current top-four NHL defenseman in the offseason without losing key parts in return, either through a trade or because of the salary-cap issues created by such a move. So the Blackhawks nearing a deal with one of the KHL’s top blueliners would almost certainly provide a boost to their own D corps.
The one chief concern would be Kempny translating his success at the KHL level on to NHL ice, which is something that goes both ways for guys who make the switch. As a positive example of this, the Blackhawks and their fans can look to Artemi Panarin, who had spent his professional career in the KHL before this last season, which saw him play so well he became a finalist for the Calder Trophy.
Most any move the Blackhawks make to add an NHL-ready defenseman on the (apparent) cheap should be praised. Considering Kempny can sign an entry-level deal with the Blackhawks, I wouldn’t expect this planned move to be too damaging to the club’s salary cap situation. Now we just have to wait for the deal to actually go through.