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Making The Case For Dominik Kahun To Play On The McDavid Line

Three scoring lines? It might be closer than you think.

Pittsburgh Penguins v Buffalo Sabres
Let’s do this.
Photo by Sara Schmidle/NHLI via Getty Images

Kahunamania has just begun in Edmonton, and I can already hear you thinking: what’s with this Dominik Kahun guy? Aren’t the Oilers his fourth team in three years? How much of a difference maker can one Kahun be? What’s the deal with this airline food?

The answers: he’s good, yes, quite a bit, and I’ll have to get back to you.

Why the Buffalo Sabres felt it in their best interest not to qualify Kahun will remain a mystery. Kahun is now a boon for the Oilers at an absolutely sublime price point of 975K.

Kahun can play centre, but he will likely find a home on the wing in Edmonton. There’s been plenty of talk about how Kahun and Draisaitl put up nearly 400 points in 30 games together a decade ago on a U16 team in Germany. That sounds nice, and if Kahun drums up that same chemistry with Leon Draisaitl, no one will mind.

There’s some talk about how this is Kahun’s fourth team in just three pro years. That sounds like it might be a cause for concern, but let’s take a look at how we got here.

Why did Chicago trade Dominik Kahun to the Penguins?

The Blackhawks picked up defenceman Olli Maatta in the hopes that he’d be a difference maker on the blue line. The Penguins got younger and cheaper with the addition of Kahun. By the time this deal went down in 2019, Kahun had already posted a rookie campaign with 37 points in 82 games (13-24-37). That’s not too bad, hey?

Why did the Penguins trade Dominik Kahun to the Sabres?

The Penguins received Conor Sheary back (along with Evan Rodriguez) in a 2020 deadline deal that sent Kahun to the Sabres. The Penguins were Looking to provide an offensive spark in a run to the playoffs, the Penguins were hoping to inject some scoring back into the lineup with Sheary (53 points in 2016-17). The Sabres were not going to make the playoffs, and received Kahun in return. Kahun had scored 27 points in 50 games with Pittsburgh in 2019-20, and this is a head scratcher from Big Jim Rutherford. Kahun would score four points (2-2-4) in six games played before the Covid stoppage.

Why did the Sabres not offer Kahun a qualifying offer?

I don’t know. It’s been a tumultuous offseason for the Sabres. They’ve done well for themselves in signing Taylor Hall to a one year deal, but new GM Kevyn Adams didn’t offer up a qualifying offer to Dominik Kahun and Kahun was cut loose. Now, he’s in Edmonton.

Kahun is a versatile player who can play throughout the lineup. With just three pro years under his belt, he’s got 68 points in 138 career games. That puts him at nearly half a point per game, and he hasn’t played alongside elite teammates since his time in Chicago when he spent time with Alex DeBrincat and Jonathan Toews. Kahun has a career S% of just over 11, and he only shot the puck 87 times last season on a line with Patric Hornqvist and Jared McCann. So what am I getting at?

There’s a real opportunity for this player to blow up in 2020-21.

Line him up with Connor McDavid and let him rip. I’d be eager to see what a dozen games would look like up top with the best player in the game, and I’d bet that I know everyone wants to drop Kahun onto the same line as Leon Draisaitl because of their successes many years ago, but Kahun is going to get a lot of pucks to McDavid on that top line. Good things tend to happen when the best player in the game has time with the puck.

If you run a top line of Kahun - McDavid - Puljujarvi, you get to keep that line of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Leon Draisaitl - Kailer Yamamoto together. That’s two killer lines, and if you need to flip RNH with Kahun from time to time, have at it. Now add a third line with newly acquired Kyle Turris and recently re-signed Tyler Ennis. See what I see? Could this club finally have three scoring lines?

Any time you can bring in what could be an impact forward for under a million dollars, it’s always a good bet. Holland’s ability to land Kahun for 975K (with a little help from Leon) might go down as his best acquisition of free agency. It’s certainly one with the least risk.

Dominik Kahun is on a sweetheart deal with the Oilers this year, and it’s an opportunity for him to make his mark and find himself on a nice new deal at the end of 2021. It’s an opportunity for the Oilers to make a move up in even strength goals, something that a league leading power play was able to shield in 2019-20. Line him up with McDavid and let him do what he’s here to do. The Oilers are depending on it.