After an outstanding rookie season, the Chicago Blackhawks and Dominik Kubalik will need to work on a deal if they plan on keeping him for the future.
Dominik Kubalik had an outstanding rookie season for the Chicago Blackhawks. There’s no fan out there that expected him to be as good as he was, heck, even teammates were surprised to see how well he played. He was one of those players who came out of nowhere and played well. The question is, can he keep it up?
Crunching the career numbers of Kubalik, his career-high at a professional level was 29 before the 2019-20 NHL season. In 68-games with the Hawks, Kubalik scored 30-goals and tallied on an additional 16-assists for a 46-point season. He added to his great season with a 5-point playoff debut, which is an NHL record for a rookie.
It’s always good to see a player break out at the next level. The hope is, he’ll continue to get better at the NHL level, considering he had his most productive goal-scoring year in his professional career in his rookie season with the Hawks.
That’s where the contract dilemma comes into play. We all saw Dylan Strome drop off after a great start to his Blackhawks career in 2018-19. The same thing happened to Alex DeBrincat after a 40-goal season, where he was paid a 3-year, $6,400,000 AAV extension which ends in 2023.
I’ve always believed a 3-4 year deal was best for players after their break out seasons, as it’s hard to predict where most players will be when their contract ends. With Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, it’s easier to predict where they’d be at the end of their deals that they signed in 2014, which started during the 2015-16 NHL season.
So, with a player like Kubalik, it’s hard to do one of two things, give him big money for the long-term, or try to sign him cheaper for a 1-2 bridge year deal. If he breaks out on that bridge deal, he is going to be worth more than he is now. If they sign him long-term and he turns into a bust, that’s another bad Stan Bowman Contract.
What’s His Worth?
During the offseason, the Hawks will have a lot of trouble moving pieces to sign Kubalik and Strome. I believe both guys are key pieces to this team’s future.
If they’re smart, they give Kubalik a short-term deal worth around $4,000,000 AAV. That is a fair price for him and is manageable by the Hawks. If he signs for 2-years and breaks out, he could end up getting paid 6 or 7 million in his next contract.
Considering the Salary Cap will stay put for the next 3-years, it’s the best they can do. The last thing they can afford to do is overpay him, have him bust, and have to find a way to get rid of Kubalik.