After the morning skate Saturday, a little more than a week away from the Feb. 26 trade deadline, a reflective Michal Kempny was asked if he needed a change of scenery to jump-start his sputtering NHL career.
“It’s maybe a question not for me, but you have to ask somebody else,” Kempny said. “My focus is here now and on how the standings look.”
Turns out the Capitals were that somebody else. The Blackhawks traded Kempny on Monday for a conditional pick in the June draft — whichever of Washington’s two third-rounders is better. The Capitals previously acquired a third-rounder from the Maple Leafs.
Kempny was an obvious candidate to be traded, as he’s a 27-year-old pending unrestricted free agent and never managed to entrench himself in the Hawks’ lineup. The Hawks, meanwhile, are in the market for younger players and draft picks as they retool on the fly.
Kempny felt he never got the opportunity he was truly looking for when he signed with the Hawks after a breakout season in the KHL two summers ago. He had a goal and six assists in 31 games this season. He had two goals and six assists in 50 games last season. A strong offensive player, Kempny had trouble winning coach Joel Quenneville’s trust on the defensive end.
Now he’ll get another chance with Barry Trotz in Washington.
“This year was really tough for me,” Kempny said. “I played 30 games. It was something new for me [to play so little]. One time, I didn’t play for 13 games in a row. It was really tough, but I want to be better every day, and I’m trying.”
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