Courtesy of Hertz

Drive to the Net: Why Kahun can skate with Sid


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Dominik Kahun. - MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

Dominik Kahun isn't Dominik Simon.

That's not to denigrate Simon, though I'm amply aware he's the scapegoat of choice for the Penguins' fan base these days despite being fairly good at most everything he's asked to do.

Rather, it's to suggest, albeit somewhat tentatively until we actually see it, that Kahun's got what it takes to earn skating time alongside Sidney Crosby.

The captain covets one trait above all in his wingers: Keep up. And to achieve that, the winger needs not only to have world-class speed, but also to create and think the game at the same pace. That's why Jake Guentzel clicks there. That's why Bryan Rust has ... done well there when he's in a finishing spell, not so well when he isn't. That's why Conor Sheary at one time combined with Crosby and Guentzel for one of the most dynamic, dominant lines we'd witnessed through Crosby's long tenure.

It's about doing everything with speed.

I've found four samples from Kahun's terrific rookie season in Chicago to illustrate his capabilities, while also acknowledging that it's humanly possible to construct a Riley Sheahan highlight reel if one digs deep enough:

Above is the instant separator from Simon many doubtless would covet.

Patrick Kane gets something of an odd-man break going into the Toronto zone, then slips a pass through Ron Hainsey's body and stick, the only place he could. That forces Kahun to reach to his side to receive it -- the worst place to do so -- while also maintaining stride on the Maple Leafs' Morgan Rielly, a swift skater himself, and moving the puck in front of his body to prevent a poke from behind.

From there, Kahun drops his blade to drop Fredrik Andersson's glove, then pings it off the near pipe with a goal-scorer's flick.

The shot's that much better if you watch the angle I offer from behind up there.

And best of all, it happens on the fly, as does the following:

Above, Kahun tries to feed linemate Alex DeBrincat, but the Red Wings' Niklas Kronwall goes low to cut that off. The puck one-hops back to Kahun, though, and he ... oh, just watch the extra millisecond, the extra-soft elevation. That's real touch, real awareness. Because rather than panicking while he's running out of ice, he sees that Jonathan Bernier reacted to the initial pass attempt and, thus, vacated a big chunk of net.

He doesn't shoot it. He places it. Yet again, on the fly.

Above is a Dylan Strome goal off Kahun's primary assist. And other than the Oilers wearing their PennDOT uniforms, there's a lot to like about it. What stands out most for me is the speed and authoritativeness Kahun shows in skating from blue line to blue line, gaining the Edmonton zone with such confidence that he backs off Darnell Nurse halfway to Red Deer.

This, too, is on the fly, and it's a big, big part of Crosby's game. He loves for his wingers to pressure those defensemen into backpedaling and giving up gaps. If anything, we've seen Crosby countless times be that late guy for support.

One more today:

Yeah, that's real. Brandon Saad pushes a pass through to Brent Seabrook, who clearly spots Kahun and just whips it through the air toward his general vicinity. To which Kahun not only gets the very Sid/Jake-like redirect but also does so with a demonstrative tap.

Watch the view from behind. I mean it.

Kahun, I'll remind, was a rookie playing on a team that spent most of the 2018-19 season fishing pucks out from behind its own goaltenders. Yet he was still a plus-10, best among all Chicago forwards, with a scoring output of 13 goals and 24 assists over all 82 games. That's impressive within its own context.

But the potential fit here, with what's seen in how he did that, combined with his stated preference for right wing and with what ... let's just say the first few drills in Cranberry this fall could be fun.

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