Blackhawks

Is Blackhawks rookie Dominik Kubalik scoring his way into Calder Trophy discussion?

dominik_kubalik_ap.jpg
AP

Is Blackhawks rookie Dominik Kubalik scoring his way into Calder Trophy discussion?

Dominik Kubalik’s goal out of training camp was to make the Blackhawks’ 23-man roster. He did that.

Then it was about making an impact on the scoresheet. He did that, scoring his first career NHL goal in just his second game.

Now the goal has shifted to solidifying a spot in the top-six. It took him a while, but he's done that and there isn't a hotter rookie in the NHL right now than Kubalik.

After extending his goal streak to four games by scoring twice in Saturday's 4-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks, Kubalik pulled into a tie with Buffalo Sabres forward Victor Olofsson for first among all rookies with 16 goals this season. Fourteen of those goals have come at even-strength, which is double the amount of the three rookies (Ilya Mikheyev, Martin Necas, and Olofsson) who are tied for second.

While it will be difficult to leapfrog Vancouver's Quinn Hughes and Colorado's Cale Maker in the Calder Trophy discussion, Kubalik will play his way into the finalist conversation if he continues to produce at this rate. 

"I think so," Kubalik said when asked whether he's playing his best hockey of the season. "Especially after the first two games when I scored, the confidence going high. Obviously you’re trying to do more and more and especially the confidence, you’re able to make it. I’m really enjoying the time right now."

Kubalik was incredibly close to putting a stamp on Saturday's win with his first career NHL hat trick. He had two opportunities to score an empty-netter and was inches away on his first attempt. The second one got blocked after his nerves kicked in.

"I was shaking," Kubalik said smiling. "Nervous. Whatever. Then when I missed the first one I was looking to pass that one because my confidence was gone. I didn’t believe in myself."

Kubalik may have lost his confidence at that moment, but his confidence overall is at an all-time high. He's been one of the most productive Blackhawks lately, scoring eight goals and five assists for 13 points over his last 11 games.

"Very happy with Kubalik's progression," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "Does a lot of things away from the puck that allows him to be put in a situation to score. He's going to the net, he's being a shooter and it's great to see."

Only five other players in franchise history have scored 30 or more goals in their rookie season: Artemi Panarin (30), Eric Daze (31), Jeremy Roenick (35), Darryl Sutter (42) and Steve Larmer (43). Kubalik is on pace for 29 and he was a healthy scratch for two games.

For reference, Elias Pettersson won the Calder Trophy last season by leading all rookies with 28 goals. Kubalik's emergence isn't something to gloss over.

"My first goal was to make the team," Kubalik said. "I was saying to myself, we’re going to start there, and we’ll see what happens. Now it’s like ... I just can’t believe it, it’s great."

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.

Blackhawks trade goalie Robin Lehner to Golden Knights

Blackhawks trade goalie Robin Lehner to Golden Knights

The Blackhawks made a major last-minute trade deadline move Monday, dealing goalie Robin Lehner to the Vegas Golden Knights in a three-team deal.

Chicago sent Lehner to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for winger Martins Dzierkals, a 22-year-old unsigned draft pick. Lehner and Dzierkals were then traded to Vegas, netting the Blackhawks goaltender Malcolm Subban, defenseman Slava Demin and Vegas' second-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.

Toronto received Vegas' fifth-round pick and retained some of Lehner's salary for helping complete the deal.

Subban has an .890 save percentage in 19 starts with the Golden Knights this season. Demin is a teammate of Hawks' prospect Ian Mitchell, also a D man, at Denver. 

Lehner signed a one-year, $5 million free-agent contract with Chicago the past offseason, making him an unrestricted free agent after this year. 

The 28-year-old netminder - who was a Vezina Trophy finalist last year with the New York Islanders - was 16-10-5 as a Hawk this season with 3.01 goals-against average, a .918 save percentage and zero shutouts.

Lehner and Chicago goalie Corey Crawford had been evenly splitting the net for the Blackhawks. Crawford has a 2.80 goals-against average, a .915 save percentage and one shutout this season. 

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.

Blackhawks trade Erik Gustafsson to Flames ahead of NHL deadline

Blackhawks trade Erik Gustafsson to Flames ahead of NHL deadline

The Blackhawks traded defenseman Erik Gustafsson to the Calgary Flames, the club announced Monday. In return, the Hawks acquired the earlier of Calgary's two third-round picks.

The puck-carrying defenseman had 26 points (six goals, 20 assists) with the Hawks this season after finishing last year with a career-high 60 points (17 goals, 43 assists). 

The 27-year-old blueliner carries a $1.2 million cap hit and will become an unrestricted free agent after this season. 

The Swede had 116 points (28 goals, 88 assists) in four seasons with the Blackhawks after being selected No. 93 overall in the 2012 NHL Draft. 

Gustafsson admitted his uncertain future was weighing on him in Chicago this season. 

"I don't know how I can't block it away," Gustafsson told NBC Sports Chicago earlier this month. "At the start of the year I was nervous going in, if I'm going to sign here or if I'm going to be traded or something like that. I think that just affected my game and I was thinking about that instead of thinking about my game on the ice."

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.