CHICAGO – It was just about a year ago that a transaction came across the wire for the Blackhawks that didn’t cause much reaction when it happened.
On January 19th of last year, the team traded a fifth-round pick to the Los Angeles Kings to acquire Dominik Kubalik, a forward who was playing in HC Ambrì Piotta in the National League of Switzerland. He was originally drafted by the Kings in 2013 but kept playing in Europe to develop his game.
Many didn’t think of the move too much even a few months ago, as Kubalik spent his time in training camp just working to earn a spot on the team. The fact that he was able to crack the opening day roster was a great accomplishment for the 24-year old.
But three months into the season, as the one-year anniversary of the trade approaches, the move by Stan Bowman last January is looking like one of the better ones over the past few years.
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) January 12, 2020
On Saturday, Kubalik scored his 15th and 16th goals of the season, tying Victor Olofsson of the Sabres for the National Hockey League lead in scores for rookies. He’s playing his best hockey in the month of January, scoring in all five games while netting five goals and three assists in those contests.
It’s helped that the forward has been on a line at times with Blackhawks standouts Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, whom he was on the ice with for both his scores on Saturday evening. Yet head coach Jeremy Colliton credits Kubalik’s ability to fight around the net for loose pucks for his season-long spike in goals.
“If you look at his goals, I think you’d be surprised at home many he does score from just being at the net, just standing there, being in front; get a rebound, or it goes off you,” said Colliton of Kubalik. “I think that’s one thing that’s really helped him in his transition here this season. It’s not just ‘park in the slot and hit a one-timer.’
“There’s that, but I’d say most of his goals are either skating off the rush or finding a way to be around the net for a little quick play or a rebound or just jumping on the loose puck, and I think that’s a big reason why his production has really accelerated.”
Enough to where Kubalik is now tied for the lead in rookie goals, and making a move that was overlooked last January quite good.