Let’s get it out at the top, we don’t miss Eddie Olczyk’s insistence on calling Dominik Kahun “The Big Kahun-a.” Somehow, no one ever bothered to explain to Eddie, or he just never bothered to listen, that “The Big Kahun” would suffice easily. We’ll get the joke. Really, we will. It made it sound like he had indigestion every time he said the goddamn name. Fuckin’ eh hockey people have the worst sense of humor.
Anyway, the Hawks fortunes probably don’t hinge on whether Dominik Kahun is here or not. But if you consider the kind of game the NHL is these days, and the one the Hawks are trying to play in it, what makes more sense? Having a quick, smart forward who is interested and effective in both ends of the ice? Or cashing him in for a slow, not all-all-that-skilled d-man and then having to plug up the forward spot you just vacated with a dumber, slower, less interested and far more expensive player? Not to mention older? You see where this goes.
We know the Hawks figured that with the arrival of Domink Kubalik, that the other Dominik was expendable. Maybe even more so if they had an inkling they could pry Alex Nylander loose. And yet wouldn’t you be happier with Kahun taking Shaw’s shifts right now? He’s certainly more flexible, and less prone to ride on his reputation with the locals to loaf around the offensive zone until it’s time to take an idiotic and lazy penalty.
And conceding that the Hawks knew they’d end up with Nylander would concede that they also had any sort of plan, which is clear they didn’t. If the front office was committed to building a team that can play the way Jeremy Colliton wants to play, and that’s assuming the front office has any idea what their coach is doing, you’d want quicker and more dynamic d-men than you had. Ones that can win the races and play the high-pressure way and not lose their man simply because they can’t keep up or get back to where they need to be quick enough. You wouldn’t go out and get a plodder, much less two of them.
But that’s what the Hawks did. Which smacks of acquiring Maatta simply because he was available without ever considering if he truly fit. Same thing with Calvin de Haan, though they didn’t give up anything of value to do that. Worse yet, both are signed for multiple years, which strangles any flexibility. How do they plan on getting Ian Mitchell and Nicholas Beaudin and even Chad Krys on this roster in the next two seasons?
So where would the Hawks be better off? The $7M they’d have saved by just keeping Kahun, never bothering with Maatta or Shaw? Or this? You tell us which path actually speaks to having a plan and which speaks to throwing shit at a wall? And sure, Kahun will be due a raise after this season, but do you really think he’ll get anywhere close to the $3.9M that Shaw is getting? No, you don’t, because you haven’t been hit by a crowbar recently.
As we figured, Kahun has taken to the Penguins’ system like a dog to peanut butter, simply crushing the competition to the tune of a 57% Corsi and a 62% expected-goals share. He’s been used in the offensive end more often than the Hawks did, to be fair. He’s mostly skated with Jared McCann in The Confluence, and now with Evgeni Malkin back will probably slot into a third-line role which he was built for.
We still find it hard to believe that Jim Rutherford knows what he’s doing. But as GM of one of the three modern forces of the league this decade, he seems to be the only one getting it right. And by some distance. Fleecing the Hawks for Kahun is how you do that.