Blackhawks

After signing entry-level contract, where does Dominik Kubalik fit into Blackhawks lineup?

After signing entry-level contract, where does Dominik Kubalik fit into Blackhawks lineup?

After acquiring his rights from the Los Angeles Kings on Jan. 24 in exchange for a 2019 fifth-round draft pick, the Blackhawks have officially agreed to terms with 23-year-old forward prospect Dominik Kubalik on a one-year deal worth $925,000. He was originally selected by the Kings in the seventh round (No. 191 overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft but did not sign a contract.

"It's amazing," Kubalik said on a conference call Wednesday of signing with the Blackhawks organization. "I'm looking forward to play and really excited for whatever happens in the future. I'm excited to see Chicago and all the people there. I'm so excited, really, really happy."

A 6-foot-2, 190-pound winger, Kubalik had a breakout season in the National League — the top tier of the Swiss hockey league — by ranking first in points (57), second in assists (35) and third in goals (25). He also averaged more than a point-per-game in the playoffs with one goal and five assists in five contests for HC Ambrì-Piotta.

Kubalik carried that success to international competition. Representing the Czech Republic at the 2019 IIHF World Championship, he finished eighth among all skaters with 12 points (six goals, six assists) in 10 games and was tied for fourth with a plus-10 rating. Perhaps more importantly, Kubalik said he gained invaluable experience learning from teammates like Radko Gudas and Jakub Voracek, who have combined for more than 1,300 career NHL games.

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman talked about Kubalik during exit interviews in April and envisions him being part of the roster next season. And they're hoping he could make a similar impact as Dominik Kahun, who played with Kubalik from 2012-14 in the Ontario Hockey League.

“A dynamic offensive player,” Bowman said of Kubalik. “He’s got size and speed and can score. We’re hoping he can come in and we’re expecting him to be on the team. Where he fits is going to be a question. We’ll see where it plays out, but I expect him to be an offensive player for us.”

Kubalik said he and Bowman did not talk about what his role may be with the Blackhawks, but it's clear Kubalik is planning on being on the 2019-20 Opening Day roster.

"My goal is to make the team, for sure," Kubalik said. "And to play the way I did so far."

The Blackhawks are going to put Kubalik in the best possible position to flourish from the start, as they did with Kahun in his first NHL season when they put him on the top line with Jonathan Toews. They essentially want Kubalik to feel comfortable from the get-go, which the organization likes to do with its overseas signings because it's a tough transition — both on and off the ice.

Kubalik notes that the Swiss league is getting closer and closer to the NHL's style of play, and hopes that his OHL experience will help in his transition to a smaller ice surface.

"Obviously, there will be some difference," Kubalik said. "But I hope I'm ready for that, ready to take the step."

Kubalik, whose strengths include speed and a strong shot, has the offensive skill to contribute in the top-six — and even the second power-play unit — if needed but might be better suited providing secondary scoring on the third line if the Blackhawks follow through with their plans to have an aggressive summer via free agency, which should include shoring up their top-nine forward depth.

The biggest area for improvement is on the defensive side of things. But that's also where Kubalik felt he took the biggest stride.

"In the middle of the season we started to really work on it and I felt better and better obviously because when you can do both things like power play and penalty kill it's always great because you're on the ice," Kubalik said. "I think that was the biggest difference than the last couple years when I was just an offensive guy, that's what I was trying to work on it."

The Kubalik signing comes a week after the Blackhawks also agreed to a one-year deal with 26-year-old Swedish forward Anton Wedin, another overseas product who could compete for a full-time roster spot. 

One thing is for certain: the Blackhawks are going to have some heavy competition at training camp in September.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.

2010 Hawks Rewind: 3 things we noticed in Blackhawks' Game 6 win over Canucks

2010 Hawks Rewind: 3 things we noticed in Blackhawks' Game 6 win over Canucks

In honor of the 10-year anniversary of the 2010 Stanley Cup team, NBC Sports Chicago is re-airing each of the Blackhawks' 16 postseason wins from the run that ended a 49-year championship drought. You can join the conversation using #HawksRewind on social media.

After failing to close out the series at home in Game 5, the Blackhawks took care of business in Vancouver by eliminating the Canucks following a 5-1 win in Game 6 to advance to the Western Conference Final for the second straight season. Here are three things we noticed in the win:

1. Contributions all around

The 2010 Blackhawks had ridiculous depth. And they flexed their muscles in Game 6 after three of the four lines contributed on the scoresheet. 

Five different Blackhawks scored in the win (Troy Brouwer, Dave Bolland, Dustin Byfuglien, Patrick Kane and Kris Versteeg) and three others recorded an assist (Brian Campbell, Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp). Byfuglien and Kane each had multi-point outings.

2. Dave Bolland ices the game

After a scoreless first period, the Blackhawks scored two goals in a 36-second span in the opening minutes of the second period to take a 2-0 lead. The next goal was going to be a crucial one as the game went on.

With 1:03 left in the period, the Canucks were awarded a power play. It was a prime opportunity to get themselves back in the game and generate momentum. But that did not happen thanks to The Rat.

Bolland, who was a pest all series long, disrupted Pavol Demitra's pass at the point, caught the puck in his hand, dropped it on the ice, fought off Demitra twice and snuck a shot past Robert Luongo to put the Blackhawks up 3-0.

The Canucks never recovered.

3. Containing the Sedin twins

Big-time players make big-time plays in the biggest moments. The Blackhawks are a perfect example of that. Can you think of a better big-game player than Patrick Kane? Jonathan Toews? Duncan Keith? The core together?

The Canucks, at home, had the advantage of drawing favorable defensive matchups. But Henrik and Daniel Sedin went up against Bolland's line, which contained both of them.

At even strength, the Sedins had 15 shot attempts for and six against and seven scoring chances for and four against, according to Natural Stat Trick. But they gave up two goals and scored zero.

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.

Toronto cancels city events through June 30: here's what it means for NHL

toronto_w.png
USA Today

Toronto cancels city events through June 30: here's what it means for NHL

Tuesday afternoon Toronto Mayor John Tory announced the city would cancel all major city-wide events until June 30. For baseball fans hoping to start their season and basketball and hockey fans hoping to get back into the swing of theirs, the news makes it hard to envision live sports returning before July. 

What does this mean for the NHL? Well, technically the ban is for city-wide events such as parades, events, festivals, and other cultural programs, excluding the NHL. 

However, professional sports will have to contend with the province of Ontario, which banned gatherings of more than five earlier this month. 

The NHL recently reached out to arenas asking for their availability in July and August. 

The idea of finishing out the 2020 season in summer is becoming more and more likely as governments continue to grapple with the severity of COVID-19. There have been speculations about what this new schedule will look like for the NHL, including a shortened 2020-21 preseason and eliminating by-weeks and All-Star weekend. This will present its own unique challenges, including arenas in warmer climates struggling to maintain ice quality for summer games. But if more major cities follow Toronto’s lead, all we know for certain is that a return to normalcy may be longer than anticipated. 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.