The Chicago Blackhawks clearly want KHL defenseman Michal Kempny, but GM Stan Bowman says the signing is not a "certainty" yet, reports The Athletic's Scott Powers. It had been reported earlier in the week that a deal between the two sides was "very close."
Bowman says that's not quite the case, although the team remains "hopeful" that it'll come to fruition. It seems like one of the remaining hurdles is getting Kempny 100 percent on board with making the move to North American hockey. He was one of the top players for Avangard Omsk in the KHL during the 2015-16 season and is currently starring for the Czech Republic in the World Championships.
"We’re hopeful, but there are a lot of factors that play there in terms of does he want to come over, does he want to play in Chicago," Bowman said, via Powers. "We like what he brings to the table. We like his skill set. But it’s a little premature at this point to assume anything."
A move is never a done deal even when it's "very close," so it seems like there's still a very real possibility that Kempny opts to stay in Russia or signs elsewhere for next season. However, Bowman's comments about the 25-year-old defenseman made it sound like he'd be in prime position to earn a significant role with the Blackhawks next season if he's willing to make the move.
"He’s a mobile defenseman," Bowman said. "He’s got that mixture of offense and defense. I would call him a really well-rounded guy. He can defend well in his own end. Mobility, he’s a good skater. He can transition the puck. He can sort of play a well-rounded game, which I think as a defenseman, you’ve seen our team play a lot, you have to be able to defend for our coaches to be able to rely on you. He’s got that ability to sort of play both ways."
It's hard not to get a little bit excited hearing this about Kempny given how shallow the team's defensive corps was in 2015-16. Powers says that Kempny would likely join Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Brent Seabrook and Trevor van Riemsdyk as "locks" for next season's roster.
Kempny still needs to sign, though, and based on this comments, it might be close, but it's far from a sure thing. Let's hope the Hawks manage to pull this one off and add an intriguing talent on the blue line.