The Blackhawks have started preliminary talks about a new contract for winger Dominik Kubalik, reports Scott Powers of The Athletic (subscription required). GM Stan Bowman recently met with Kubalik’s agent while in Prague and the expectation is that they will meet again before the season comes to an end. The 24-year-old rookie has been a pleasant surprise in Chicago this year as he leads the team in goals with 29 and has certainly been worth the fifth-round pick they sent Los Angeles to get his rights last season. Even though he’s only in his rookie season, Kubalik is arbitration-eligible this summer which will only make things that much more complicated. A short-term deal given Chicago’s salary structure is the likely outcome here.
Elsewhere around the league:
- Although Shayne Gostisbehere had been out with recurring knee issues, the Flyers still received some interest in the defenseman leading up to the trade deadline, reports Dave Isaac of the Courier-Post. However, GM Chuck Fletcher opted to hold onto the 26-year-old who has seen his offensive numbers fall off considerably this season as he has just a dozen points in 41 games which isn’t a great return on a $4.5MM AAV. Gostisbehere is now healthy but is currently serving as Philadelphia’s seventh defender. However, despite being out of the lineup for now, he indicated that he is happy to remain with the Flyers, the only NHL team he has played for.
- Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko will begin participating in contact drills on their upcoming road trip, notes Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. That’s a big development for the veteran who has been out since late October with a shoulder injury. The expectation that he’d return late in the year played a big role in a quiet trade deadline for St. Louis but if he’ll be starting contact drills next week, he could be back a bit earlier than expected which would be a big boost for a team that’s already in the top ten in goals scored this season.
- The Islanders announced (via Twitter) that they’ve activated Cal Clutterbuck off LTIR in advance of today’s game against Boston. The winger has missed more than two months due to a wrist injury sustained just before the holiday break. While he won’t make a big difference offensively, the physical dimension he brings will certainly be welcomed for the stretch run.