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Where does Dominik Kahun fit in Blackhawks’ lineup for 2019-2020 season?

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The German winger started the season with with almost no expectations. Here’s how he delivered.

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Toronto Maple Leafs
Chicago Blackhawks forward Dominik Kahun pursues play against the Toronto Maple Leafs
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Dominik Kahun had a complicated season with the Blackhawks. After signing a contract following an excellent performance with the German national team at the 2018 Winter Olympics, Kahun came in with very low, if no, expectations. Whether he was a top-six forward, a middle-six forward, or a bottom-six forward, that would all be icing on the cake. Kahun spent time as each of the three this past season, bouncing around lines throughout the season.

Kahun helped the Blackhawks at 5-on-5

With 13 goals and 37 points, Kahun tied for eighth place on the Blackhawks. Artem Anisimov scored more goals than him, but Kahun had more assists. At 5-on-5, Kahun’s points per 60 (1.89) and primary points per 60 (1.59) were both fifth on the team. He had the seventh best wins above replacement with a .8 and the seventh best goals above replacement with 4.8 among the Blackhawks.

This was also his RAPM (Regularized Adjusted Plus Minus, or a player’s contribution on ice, independent of any outside factors) chart this season:

The positive ~1 Kahun has in each of offensive goals for, expected goals, and Corsi, as well as defensive expected goals, means he’s about .5 to .67 standard deviations better than the average - basically it means Kahun’s doing his job well. The negative one in power play goals for and Corsi means he’s one standard deviation worse than the average on the power play, which is... not good.

He only had two points in 87 minutes, and should likely not return to the man advantage next season. But for a middle-six forward, his 5-on-5 numbers are very respectable. He’ll be good at that role, and can likely contribute more in the future.

He also substantially aided the Blackhawks at even strength this season:

The Blackhawks were substantially better with Kahun on the ice than without him. He moved the puck quickly and accurately in all three zones, and was able to generate chances from high-danger areas right around the crease and slot as depicted in the With Kahun figure above.

Additionally, Kahun showcased his versatility by moving up and down the lineup numerous times to fill in for an injury or try something new. Of the five most common lines Kahun played with at 5-on-5 this season — Alex DeBrincat and Jonathan Toews; Brandon Saad and Toews; Patrick Kane and Anisimov; Saad and Toews; and Dylan Strome and DeBrincat — three were better with him than without him and two were not (DeBrincat/Toews, DeBrincat/Strome).

Kahun

Line Time on Ice Corsi Share Shot Share Goal Share Expected Goal Share High-Danger Share
Line Time on Ice Corsi Share Shot Share Goal Share Expected Goal Share High-Danger Share
DeBrincat, Toews, Kahun 217:31:00 52.32 53.58 50 49.2 46.24
DeBrincat, Toews w/o Kahun 137:33:00 56.6 54.55 50 52.1 41.86
DeBrincat, Strome, Kahun 164:52:00 43.73 45.54 61.9 39.78 38.89
DeBrincat, Strome w/o Kahun 316:31:00 48.7 47.96 53.19 47.73 42.06

Clearly Kahun should not play with DeBrincat. It’s like oil and vinegar. Still, having a second line with oil and a third line with vinegar couldn’t hurt the Blackhawks, just make them a tastier team.

Kahun as a sophomore

So what should be expected of Kahun in the future? Well, he’ll very likely be back with the Blackhawks, as he’s signed for another year with a $925,000 salary cap hit. That’s extremely affordable, especially for a middle-six forward, and it helps the Blackhawks spend money elsewhere this offseason.

With a lack of elite offensive prospects, it’s not known whether the Blackhawks will be able to reproduce what Kahun can do with anyone from the AHL level. Kahun, should he return, will likely have a permanent spot on the Blackhawks’ roster, likely on the third line with the other Dominik (Kubalik).

Kahun should continue to have an important (if reduced) role with the Blackhawks next season. He’s a player able to be plugged in to the middle six and can, on occasion, play on the first, should the need arise.

Kahun will be in the lineup in October. As a restricted free agent after that, it’s somewhat up to him and how he produces to figure it out from there.