Ottawa Senators Report Cards: Dominik Kubalik

The Czech winger was incredibly underwhelming in what will likely be his only season in Ottawa

Ottawa Senators Report Cards: Dominik Kubalik
Photo by Roman Melnychuk / Unsplash

Staff grade: D-, Reader Grade: D-

When the Ottawa Senators traded Alex DeBrincat to the Detroit Red Wings, nobody really expected to win the trade. However, people thought that the first-rounder was at least somewhat valuable and that Dominik Kubalik would be a nice top-9 winger who could give them 40+ points to replace some of DeBrincat's production. Yet almost immediately once the season began, fans realized that he was not going to be very helpful.

Kubalik had some success in Chicago and Detroit in his first four seasons as he averaged 47 points per 82 games, which would have been nice production to have by ranking 5th in scoring this season in Ottawa. However, he had a paltry 11 goals and four assists in 74 games, which was even less than Parker Kelly, Erik Brännström, and Artem Zub. He clearly has a good shot that happened to come out every once in a while, but the problem is that seemed to be his only skillset.

It would be a different story if Kubalik could kill penalties, limited chances against, or was able to bring something different to the table. But no, it's quite hard to think of what his role was even supposed to be. Out of 879 skaters who played at least 50 minutes in the NHL this season, Kubalik ranked dead last in Goals Above Replacement with -12.6. Dead last. GAR is a cumulative stat, so the more games played, the higher the chance there is to rack up GAR in either direction, but still: that's impressively bad.

Out of all the components that go into GAR (even-strength offense, penalty kill defense, etc.), the only two areas he was barely positive in were powerplay offense (0.4) creation and taking penalties (0.8). His negative GAR sticks out so much that Ottawa had nine others in the negatives but they ranged from -0.3 (Jacob Bernard-Docker) to -3.1 (Travis Hamonic). Some of those players might have accrued more negative GAR if they had played more, but that just speaks to how odd it was to see Kubalik somehow being there all season.

Evolving Hockey is not the only site that viewed his contributions poorly, JFresh had him as a little bit better in Chicago and Detroit (but not amazing), but his value tanked this past season. It's not exactly something to write home about:

What's odd is that he still got some chances on the powerplay as he ranked 8th amongst Senators forwards with 1:55 per game, yet he had just four powerplay goals and zero assists. That was the lowest points per 60 on the team amongst anyone who had at least one point. For a guy whose calling card is his shot (and specifically his one-timer), it's not a great look that he couldn't produce on the powerplay.

I don't mean to sound too harsh because I have no idea about his personality and how he was off the ice. He might have been an excellent teammate, but I never heard much about him to be sure. Criticisms of him on the ice have nothing to do with his character, although it's hard to deny how poor of a season he had. Even by the eye test, he looked incredibly lazy on backchecks and does not seem like someone that new coach Travis Green would want on his team.

Kubalik is an unrestricted free agent this summer and I can't imagine there's any chance the Senators want to re-sign him, especially considering Steve Staios wasn't the one who traded for him. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see the soon-to-be 29-year-old return to either Czechia or Switzerland where he played before the NHL. And if Ottawa did re-sign him, then I have no idea what they are thinking. It's too bad it didn't work out because they could still use another offensive weapon, but he simply isn't anywhere close to good enough anymore.

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