Dominant Dominik: Blackhawks Rookie Kubalik Continues to Impress

By Michael Wagner
Chicago Blackhawks, Dominik Kubalik (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)
Chicago Blackhawks, Dominik Kubalik (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images) /

From trade afterthought to second in NHL rookie scoring, Dominik Kubalik is bringing a scoring touch to the Chicago Blackhawks top line.

When the Chicago Blackhawks traded a 5th round pick to the Los Angeles Kings for Dominik Kubalik back on January 24th, 2019, many saw the acquisition of the 23-year-old Czech winger as a roll of the dice. Most thought Kubalik would be an absolute long shot to make the NHL in 2019.

Fast forward to the World Championships. Blackhawks fans got a good taste of what Dominik Kubalik could bring to the table with his cannon of a shot, solid skating ability, and NHL-ready body. Kubalik has carried his momentum right over to the NHL which is impressive, considering how quickly he has adjusted to the size and speed of North American hockey.

After watching Dominik Kubalik post 12 points (6G, 6A) in 10 games for the Czech Republic, at the World Championships, many fans and analysts thought that Kubalik could actually be a factor come Blackhawks’ training camp. In training camp, Kubalik was once again solid, proving that the 24-year-old rookie was ready to make the jump to the NHL.

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Dominik Kubalik would impress early on an extremely effective Chicago Blackhawks’ third line where he would skate alongside Brandon Saad and David Kampf. Their combination of size and skill made them an effective group. Although they didn’t light up the score sheet, they were by far the most effective line game in and game out.

While Kubalik would see some ups and downs as the season has progressed, his scoring touch would not go unnoticed by coach Jeremy Colliton. When fellow rookie Alex Nylander continued to struggle, it was Kubalik who would jump up the lineup to the Blackhawks’ first line.

At the top of the lineup, Kubalik has flourished. On the season, he is second in goal scoring among NHL rookies with 14 goals and currently sits two goals behind the currently injured Victor Olofsson. With Olofsson likely on the mend for an extended period of time, the Chicago Blackhawks’ rookie could find himself as the leading rookie goal scorer by season’s end.

Kubalik’s rise statistically is, of course, contributed to his impressive numbers. Even before his elevation to the top line, he was still producing effectively with limited ice time. However, over the past seven games, Kubalik has seen his ice time dramatically increase from the 11-12 minute range to the 15-17 minute range, with him providing 8 points (4G, 4A) in the past 8 games.

The one concerning thing that Kubalik’s impressive rookie season brings is that he is going to be an RFA at the end of the season. With money already tight for the Chicago Blackhawks, who also need to sign Dylan Strome, it could be a challenge to get Kubalik at a reasonable number in the offseason. For now, as the Blackhawks need to embrace what Kubalik has brought to the lineup, and with the long list of injuries piling up, Kubalik will continue to be leaned upon the reason of the season.