Blackhawks re-sign Dominik Kubalik, Malcolm Subban to two-year contracts
Kubalik’s two-year deal with a $3.7 million cap hit comes on the heels of his 30-goal rookie season.
Wing Dominik Kubalik is staying with the Blackhawks.
As the NHL free-agency window opened Friday, the Hawks announced a two-year contract extension for Kubalik with a $3.7 million cap hit.
The Hawks also re-signed goalie Malcolm Subban to a two-year contract extension with an $850,000 cap hit.
Kubalik, 25, led all NHL rookies and ranked second on the Hawks with 30 goals in 68 games during the 2019-20 season. He also had 16 assists.
He was arguably the brightest spot of the season for the Hawks and finished third in Calder Trophy voting for the NHL’s top rookie.
‘‘I was nervous the last couple of days,’’ Kubalik said Friday. ‘‘It was something new for me. I’ve never had a chance to have conversations about the contract. In Europe, you get the offer, take it or not. So it’s different. But happy it’s done and very excited about it.’’
Kubalik said his agent, Jiri Hamal, asked for a longer term than the two years he and the Hawks settled on. But the shorter, bridge-style contract with the manageable cap hit gives the Hawks flexibility with other contracts and flexibility in case Kubalik doesn’t repeat his 2019-20 production. Plus, he’ll be a restricted free agent again in 2022, giving the Hawks more control.
‘‘Obviously, we wanted to stay in Chicago and stay there for longer,’’ Kubalik said. ‘‘For me, both sides should be happy, so that was my first goal. I’m happy; I hope Chicago is happy, too.’’
Kubalik often said that he entered last season — his first as a pro in North America — with the lowest of expectations: He simply hoped to make the team out of training camp.
Expectations will be much higher entering his second season, a challenge he’ll have to manage mentally.
‘‘The first goal right now is to show that it wasn’t just one season, to keep going, keep getting better,’’ he said ‘‘That’s basically what’s in my head now. Those things, I can handle. The other things, you’re always going to face adversity, but you just need to be ready for it.
‘‘Everybody maybe is going to expect that I’m going to score another 30 goals. I would take it, obviously, but you never know what’s going to happen.’’
Subban, meanwhile, wasn’t given a qualifying offer, implying the Hawks wouldn’t keep him after acquiring him from the Golden Knights in the Robin Lehner trade in February.
But the Hawks, per NHL rules, would have had to pay Subban at least $892,500 annually with his qualifying offer, so the contract Friday cleared up the confusion.
‘‘The offer came up, and I took it,’’ Subban said. ‘‘Getting familiar with everyone here, getting familiar with the city, it’s been unbelievable so far, and I’m so happy that I could sign back and be a part of this for a little bit longer.’’
Subban, 26, struggled for the Golden Knights last season, going 9-7-3 with an .890 save percentage. He made only two appearances for the Hawks after the trade, playing 71 seconds in relief March 3, then half of the Hawks’ unofficial pre-playoffs exhibition game Aug. 29.
Nonetheless, he’ll battle with American Hockey League goalies Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen for the right to man the Hawks’ crease next season with Corey Crawford gone.
After playing behind Tuukka Rask with the Bruins and Marc-Andre Fleury with the Golden Knights, this might be Subban’s long-awaited chance to break through.
‘‘I’ve been preparing for it for a long time now,’’ he said. ‘‘You’ve just got to keep working hard. Obviously, it’s three great goaltenders . . . so it’s good competition.’’