Dominik Kubalik had a career year in 2018-19. Can he carry that success over to the NHL?
New faces coming to Chicago has been the theme of the Chicago Blackhawks’ offseason with a flurry of trades, exciting prospects and old faces making a return.
This offseason has been a busy one for Stan Bowman. However, it was a trade made back on January 25th that appears to have a many of the Blackhawks’ fans excited for another international steal akin to Dominik Kahun or Artemi Panarin.
That deal was the trade of a 5th round pick to the Los Angeles Kings for former 7th round pick Dominik Kubalik, who at the time was one of the top players in the Swiss Hockey League.
Kubalik was named the MVP of the Swiss League last season with 25 goals and 57 points with a 5 ± in 50 games.
Success overseas doesn’t always equate to success in the NHL, but Kubalik has actually played a bit in North America and has already competed in the OHL with the Sudbury Wolves and Kitchener Rangers from 2012-2014.
Dominik Kubalik was not seen as a standout during his time in the OHL, but he was drafted in the 7th round of the 2013 draft by the Los Angeles Kings.
He would go on to continue his development overseas by bouncing between the Czech and Swiss league.
Over the past three seasons between HC Plzen, of the Czech league, and HC Ambrì-Piotta, of the Swiss league (NLA), Kubalik has seen an offensive breakout.
As mentioned previously, Kubalik was the MVP of the NLA during the 2018-2019 season, but in prior seasons he has been at, or nearly at, a point-per-game production rate.
Kubalik was also a standout during this 2019 IIHF Men’s World Championships in Slovakia, where he was tied for 8th in scoring with 12 points.
This tournament was filled with NHL talent. He and Nikita Gusev were the only players with non-NHL experience to be in the top ten of scoring at the tournament.
Although all the international numbers look great on paper, there is still something to the fact that his production has come from a bigger ice surface and hasn’t had the opportunity to prove his talent at the NHL level.
Where Does Dominik Kubalik Fit with the Chicago Blackhawks?
Earlier in the offseason, my colleague, Tony Gianares, talked about how Dominik Kubalik looks to be a hidden gem for the Blackhawks and pointed out that he could be a component on the Blackhawks’ roster come the start of the 2019-20 NHL season.
The way the offseason has unfolded, and how the Blackhawks didn’t target any major upgrades in the forward group, it appears as though the front office and coaching staff believe someone within the current group will be able to step onto the first line with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
Watching Kubalik’s game in highlight packs, and in the games from the World Championship, Kubalik looks like the type of player who could thrive in top-line minutes alongside a guy like Kane, who excels at distributing the puck.
Kubalik’s ability to find the open ice, granted on a larger ice surface, an extremely hard and accurate shot give him the type of traits you would look for on that top wing.
Kubalik will have plenty of competition come training camp with the likes of Drake Caggiula, Dylan Sikura, Brandon Saad, Alexander Nylander, and others trying to secure the coveted top left-wing spot.
Caggiula was a standout in his limited time with Toews and Kane, providing some edge to the top line.
Saad has continued to find himself floating throughout the top nine, while Nylander and Sikura are both looking to take that next big step much like Kubalik.
We, of course, do not know where the dust will settle at the end of training camp, but as we progress through it, Kubalik will likely get a good look at top-line minutes.
However, at times, it takes overseas players a bit to adjust to the North American style of play, and even the lifestyle of an NHL player.
For Kubalik, someone who has spent time in North America and a player that will be spending time this offseason in Chicago, the Blackhawks are giving him every opportunity to adjust on and off the ice.
Whether that leads to another International signing success or failure will be dependent on Dominik Kubalik’s play on the ice. With the types of tools that he possesses, it will be difficult for Kubalik to fail.