When the Blackhawks traded for Dominik Kubalik then signed him to an entry-level contract on May 29, GM Stan Bowman said it was a matter of where he was going to fit in the lineup not if he would be part of the group. And you can see why.
Kubalik ranks second among rookies — and on the team — this season with 11 goals but first in even-strength goals with nine. His 17 points rank seventh but all six rookie skaters ahead of him are logging significantly more ice time.
He's not a flashy player, but he is an effective one when he's at the top of his game.
“It’s tough to say,” Kubalik said of what's working so well for him this season. “From the beginning I’m trying to do my best, trying to shoot the puck. That’s one of my strengths. That’s what I’m trying to do and the last couple of games it’s going in. So you’re building confidence and it’s getting better and better. I’m really enjoying my time right now.”
Looking for more balance in the lineup, head coach Jeremy Colliton promoted Kubalik to the first line on Dec. 8 and it’s paid off, at least on the scoresheet. The 24-year-old winger has seven points (five goals, two assists) over his last 10 games and three goals in his past four, two of which have turned out to be the game winner.
"He's had a really nice stretch lately,” Colliton said. “He's shooting the puck, which he needs to do because he's got such a weapon, finding a way to get it through. But he's a confidence player. When he feels good about himself he's good. We want to hopefully continue that. It doesn't hurt when the puck goes in the net but when he's good he's skating, he's assertive, he's making an impact on the game and I think he's been doing that for the most part."
Inconsistent play has been an issue for Kubalik, as it usually is for players making the jump to the pros. He's been a healthy scratch twice this season but has responded well to both.
The challenge for Kubalik is putting the package together and doing it on a nightly basis.
“We had a couple of conversations with the guys on the line about my role and what’s supposed to be my role for each of us to be successful together," Kubalik said. "I’m just trying to work around the net and I try to be open in the spot. That’s what I’m trying to do and it’s working right now.”
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