The Chicago Blackhawks sign 21-year-old Czech forward from HC Plzen Matej Chalupa to a two-year contract with a $925,000 AAV.
Aside from a player with an awesome beard primed for a playoff appearance and the last name coming straight from the Taco Bell menu, what are the Chicago Blackhawks hoping to get with Matej Chalupa? Matej is a former teammate of Blackhawks rookie star Dominik Kubalik, dating back to their time with HC Plzen out of the Czech league in 2017-18. With that said, it is likely the Blackhawks have done their homework on Chalupa.
With HC Plzen this year, the 6-foot-2, 194 pounds Czech forward, scored seven goals and 24 points in 50 games. While the odds he will be the next Kubalik are slim, the Blackhawks have continued to dip their toes in Europe in hopes to find the next impact player.
Unfortunately, this tactic does not always work as proven with recent European signee Anton Wedin. It’s a smart move from the Blackhawks perspective however, given that it is low risk and relatively cheap for the potential upside.
Recently I had the pleasure to participate in an NHL 2020 mock draft with many members of FanSided. I also was able to meet new people from different sites and roles within the hockey industry. One of those individuals being Samuel Tirpak. Sam is a scout over for Dobber prospects primarily in the Czech Republic. He noted the following about Chalupa:
It is always nice to add speed to your lineup no matter the case. The Blackhawks could use a nice young forward with speed who also plays a hard game in the corners. If he is also able to play a two-way game Chalupa could become even more valuable. Plus, Chalupa is only 21 so he will have time to develop and work his way into the Blackhawks lineup. It also looks as though he could have more upside than David Kampf.
As Sam said, he likely starts in Rockford. My guess is he spends the season there with call-ups to Chicago on a need-basis. Then after his first year, he finds his way onto the third or fourth line of the Blackhawks depending on what he brings to the table and his offensive ability. In the meantime, let’s hope Chicago has found another diamond in the rough oversees!