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Dominik Kahun addition provides some intrigue

The Buffalo Sabres traded away two players and brought in two before yesterday’s trade deadline. They added veteran winger Wayne Simmonds from the New Jersey Devils and young winger Dominik Kahun from the Pittsburgh Penguins.

If you’ve been living under a rock and didn’t hear; Kahun was acquired in the trade yesterday that sent Evan Rodrigues and Conor Sheary to the Penguins. It was the Sabres’ second and final trade of a day that saw a lot of movement around the NHL.

Flashes of Talent

Kahun is a 24-year-old forward that was originally signed by the Chicago Blackhawks. He’s primarily played wing throughout his career and that’s likely where he’ll start with the Sabres. However, he does have some experience playing center. Jason Botterill loves to bring in the players that give his coach versatility on where to play throughout the lineup.

He’s a decent two-way player with a nice shot that has some potential. Kahun can also fill in on the Sabres’ second power play unit with the loss of Sheary. The Czech-native has shown flashes of his ability throughout his brief time in the league but hasn’t been able to find that consistency in his game.

In his rookie season with the Blackhawks, he scored 13 goals and 37 points in 82 games. He primarily played on one the Blackhawks top line at 5 on 5 with Jonathan Toews and Alex DeBrincat.

After last season, he was traded to the Penguins from the Blackhawks as part of the return for defenseman Olli Maatta. Kahun has appeared in 50 games for the Penguins this season. He’s registered 27 points and 10 goals so far this season. In Pittsburgh, he’s primarily played with Jared McCann, although, he did get some time on a line with Evgeni Malkin this season and played well during that stretch.

To get some more detail on the player I spoke with one of my colleagues at SB Nation’s Penguins site Pensburgh. Here is what Jim (Hooks Orpik) had to say about Kahun:

“I’m surprised the Penguins were willing to trade Dominik Kahun. He’s young (24), a pretty decent point producer at even strength and had a bit of success on Evgeni Malkin’s wing earlier this season. He caught a few injuries of late but seemed to be haled up from a concussion. His numbers in Chicago and Pittsburgh have not been good on the power play, which is kind of surprising because while he’s not the most skilled player ever, he gets around the ice well and doesn’t have bad hands. I’ve seen it floated that perhaps the Pens didn’t think they could afford him as a restricted free agent over the summer.

Kahun’s defensive metrics are strong on the charts and graphs, he’s not a physical player at all and didn’t stand out a lot to the eye test. But he did suppress the opponent’s ability to generate offense by being good at keeping the puck away from them, so that’s a plus too. Kahun doesn’t score a ton of goals on his own (just 23 career NHL goals in 132 games) but his foot speed and passing ability are enough to think of him as a pretty nice player. I’d personally give him a shot with Jack Eichel and think that could work because Kahun did play well with Malkin and Eichel at this point in both their careers is probably a better shooter and would benefit by Kahun’s vision and playmaking. He’s not going to be a star or very high-end type of player, but in Pittsburgh and Chicago he’s done well-helping lines with players like Malkin or Alex DeBrincat and carrying his part with production.”

Shot Contributions

The interesting part for me with Kahun when I was looking through his numbers is something that Jim mentioned above. His passing ability seems to be one of the stronger points of his game. Looking through Corey Sznajder’s tracking data he grades out well in primary shot assists.

As you can see above with the Blackhawks he was one of the better passers on the team at 5 on 5. Which was one of the reasons that Alex DeBrincat had the strong season he did last year.

The story is the same this season with the Penguins. This led me to wonder if playing Kahun with a player like Jeff Skinner would be a good idea. His ability to distribute the puck could help spark Skinner. It could also be a good fit on a line with Jimmy Vesey, where his skillset is finishing around the goal mouth. Kahun can use his vision and primary shot contributions to create scoring chances for players around the net.

We’ll see how Ralph Krueger decides to use Kahun. He’s a young player with team control that could be a nice piece for the roster moving forward. At the very least it’ll provide some intrigue for fans over the final 20 games of the season as the Sabres look to get themselves into the playoff picture.

Data via Corey Sznajder and Hockeyviz.com

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