When he heard he was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the first thing forward Dominik Kahun did was pause the video game he was playing against his brother at his offseason home in Germany.
The second thing he did was think about the teammates he was about to play with.
“When I heard Pittsburgh Penguins, first thing I thought was Sidney Crosby and (Evgeni) Malkin and all those superstars,” Kahun said. “I’m really excited to join. I just can’t wait to see all the guys when I arrive.”
While Kahun is looking forward to playing alongside Crosby and Malkin, he shouldn’t be too star-struck. Kahun has a history of complementing high-end players. In fact, his ability to do so is one of the main reasons he’s an intriguing fit with the Penguins after joining the team in the Olli Maatta deal Saturday night.
Kahun was born in the Czech Republic, but he moved to Germany at a young age and grew up playing in international competition with Edmonton Oilers star Leon Draisaitl. In his first NHL season last year, his most common linemates in Chicago were Jonathan Toews and Alex DeBrincat.
“They were role models for me,” Kahun said. “I saw them always on You Tube and on video games. It was pretty nice for me. It’s going to be the same in Pittsburgh, obviously.”
It’s not hard to see why superstar players might like having Kahun on their line. He’s not big — 5-foot-11, 175 pounds — but he’s fast, good at distributing the puck, effective on the forecheck and defensively responsible.
His first conversation with coach Mike Sullivan about what role he will fill came Sunday.
“He seems really, really nice,” Kahun said. “He just talked about how they want to play, how the Pittsburgh style is. It’s a fast and skilled game they want to be play, and I think I can be a good fit for that.”
The first thing Sullivan will have to decide is what position Kahun will play. He grew up as a center but played primarily on the wing with the Blackhawks last season. A left-handed shooter, he said he leans toward his off wing.
“It really didn’t matter for me where I’m going to play because all that mattered is I wanted to make the team and play wherever I can and wherever the coach needs me,” Kahun said. “But I would say I prefer the right wing because I play most of the season.
“Right wing is probably my better spot if I play on the wing, but it doesn’t really matter for me if I play right, left or center. I think I can do a good job everywhere. I’m confident with that.”
Kahun’s experience on the penalty kill is miniscule — he played only about 5 minutes last season in Chicago — but he said he is willing to give that a try as well if needed.
“Sometimes when the coach needed me, when there were some guys missing or something, they put me on the ice to play,” Kahun said. “I never was really used to it, but when the coaches put me there, I was ready to do it. I’ve got no problem with playing PK.”