Greg Boysen The Hockey Writers
Blackhawks News & Rumors: Kubalik, Olczyk & IceHogs
Emerging star Dominik Kubalik recently shared what he plans to do to stay in shape until the Chicago Blackhawks get back together on the ice. Unfortunately, he did not reveal any details about his next contract with the team. Plus, a familiar voice to Blackhawks fans could be taking his talents to South Beach and the Rockford IceHogs add another player to their roster.
Kubalik’s Offseason Plans
When the Blackhawks dealt a fifth-round draft pick to the Los Angeles Kings for Kubalik, on Jan. 24, 2019, there was little fanfare. After a 30-goal rookie season, the restricted free agent’s new contract will be one of the top storylines during this short offseason.
Kubalik met with the media via a video teleconference call on Thursday and discussed a whole slew of different topics. However, when asked about his future with the team he did not have much to say.
“The season just ended, so I’m really happy to be home,” he said from the comforts of his living room. “It’s going to be probably a conversation with my agent in the next couple days and weeks.
“After this year, hopefully, I’m confident that I’m on a good way and I would love to stay in Chicago. So that’s probably all I can say about it right now.”
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The Blackhawks have to make a tough choice on Kubalik’s next contract. They can bank on that the 2019-20 season wasn’t a fluke and try to sign him long-term to save money down the road. Or, if they want to see if a 30-goal season is the norm before investing, they can sign him to a short term “bridge deal.” The issue with this option is that if he continues to put up huge numbers, you might have priced yourself out of his next contract when he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
Kubalik is back in his native Czech Republic and he plans on staying there until the Blackhawks return to training camp in either late November or early December. He revealed that he spoke to the general manager of his old Czech Extraliga team, HC Plzen, and he will stay in shape with them until returning to Chicago.
“Right now, I’m going to take a couple of weeks rest to recover, get the mind away from hockey,” he said. “And then, same like I usually do, I’ll start practicing off the ice. Today, I talked to Martin Straka so I can skate with them, so that’s great and I’ll be with the team on the ice.”
Kubalik played in four seasons with HC Plzen before joining the NHL. The Czech Republic’s top professional league will start on Sept. 17. However, this is not an official, so Kubalik won’t play in any of their games. He will just skate and workout with the club during the downtime here in Chicago.
Edzo Heading South?
Hockey fans in Chicago and across the United States have gotten used to hearing Eddie Olczyk’s voice on broadcasts for the last few years, but his time in the booth might be nearing an end. According to a recent report by Larry Brooks of the New York Post, Olczyk could be heading to Florida Panthers in the near future.
Sources report that another rising star in the industry, Eddie Olczyk, has not only been in for an interview but is expected to be among the finalists for the GM position in Florida that became vacant when the team did not extend the expiring contract of Dale Tallon after the ne’er do well Puddy Tats were bounced out of the qualifying round by the Islanders.From “Chris Drury bows out of star-studded Panthers GM search” by Larry Brooks – New York Post, 8/29/20
For years fans in Chicago have referred to Panthers as “Blackhawks South” because of all the former players, coaches and executives who have ended up there, including Tallon. Brooks also mentions that New York Rangers assistant general manager Chris Drury and NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes have also interview for the job. The Panthers’ current interim general manager, Tom Fitzgerald, is also a top candidate for the opening.
It is no secret that Olczyk wants a front office job somewhere in the NHL. One would think that he would be a top candidate for the Blackhawks’ vacant team presidency, but, to the best of anyone’s knowledge, nobody has been interviewed for that position yet.
IceHogs Add College Free Agent
Turning our attention now to the American Hockey League, the IceHogs signed forward Christopher Wilkie on Friday.
Wilkie, a 24-year-old right wing, was an undrafted free agent following his four-season college career. He started out at the University of North Dakota in 2015 and was part of their 2016 National Championship. He scored six goals and 19 points in 62 games. He sat out the 2017-18 season because he transferred to Colorado College.
He equaled his two-year offensive total at UND in his first season at Colorado College, with six goals and 19 points in just 20 games. This past season, Wilkie served as an alternate captain, and he scored a career-high 23 goals and 31 points in 34 games.
Wilkie’s contract is an AHL-only deal, so he is not eligible to be called up to the NHL unless he signs a contract with the Blackhawks. He is one of 10 players under AHL contract for the upcoming season, including Garret Mitchell, Gabriel Gagne and Dmitry Osipov.
This upcoming offseason will be short and hectic for the entire NHL, not just the Blackhawks. With some tough decisions due to a flat salary cap, the news should be fast and furious over the next couple of months. We will keep update with all things Blackhawks as the offseason unfolds.
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