Seeing Dominik Kubalik breakout with another team raises the question if the LA Kings should have done more to keep him here?
Living in Chicago, I have a front-row seat as to what is going on with the Blackhawks. I tuned in to a fair amount of games this year, watching former LA Kings prospect Dominik Kubalik. And to see the kind of season he had, as a rookie, was difficult to stomach. It made me question what today would look like had the Kings given him the opportunity to showcase himself.
Kubalik was drafted in the seventh round of the 2013 NHL Draft. The Kings reportedly tried to sign him as a 22-year-old, but he opted to remain in Switzerland, despite having an interest in playing in the NHL.
"“It’s true, but at the same time,” said Kubalik, via Swiss Hockey News. “I want to honor the contract I have in Switzerland. It obliges me to stay the whole season.”"
Now 24, he put the finishing touches on a tremendous first year in the NHL, scoring 30 goals with 16 assists, which included four goals on the man advantage as well. He’s found on a home on the Blackhawks third line, along with Drake Caggiula and fellow rookie Kirby Dach.
The Calder Trophy finalist didn’t immediately have a place on the Kings roster, given the presence of Tyler Toffoli and Kyle Clifford. However, after both were traded, there appears to be a few spots where Kubalik could have plugged in.
He’s a left-handed shot, but he’s extremely versatile in that he can play at both left and right-winger. Kubalik was always a prolific goal scorer in the Czech League and International play, and the early results prove that his skill set translated to the NHL.
Perhaps in a couple of years, when the Kings have guys like Alex Turcotte, Rasmus Kupari, Arthur Kaliyev, and the second overall pick – to name a few – roaming the ice, Kubalik will be an afterthought. Still, for the Blackhawks to only have to give up a fifth-round pick to get an immediate offensive threat hurts right now.
The future is bright for the Kings, perhaps more hopeful than Chicago’s. Kubalik is a restricted free agent at the end of the league year, and he’s projected to receive a handsome payday in the form of a four-year deal at $5.5M AAV per Evolving Hockey.