Where does Dominik Kahun fit in with the Penguins?
Dominik Kahun already has his place in hockey history secure.
As a member of Germany’s silver medal-winning squad in the 2018 Olympics, Kahun nearly won gold but fell in the championship game, 4-3 in overtime, to the heavily favored (and suspended) Olympic Athletes from Russia team during the games that were played in Gangneung, South Korea.
Despite falling short of the top prize, the silver represented the best finish ever for the fledgling German national team, which had not won an Olympic medal since claiming bronze in 1976 under the flag of West Germany.
Kahun is attached to his medal and brought it to Pittsburgh.
“I have it everywhere with me,” he said. “I feel it is giving me luck.”
He could use some better fortune in finding a steady role with the Penguins.
Through two weeks of training camp, Kahun has been utilized in a variety of roles ranging from the top line alongside franchise center Sidney Crosby to competing for playing time on the fourth line with Dominik Simon, a leading candidate to be the team’s 13th forward.
For the moment, Kahun is filling in as an injury replacement for Alex Galchenyuk on the left wing next to the team’s other franchise center, Evgeni Malkin. He skated on Malkin’s line during a 4-2 preseason win against the Red Wings on Wednesday at PPG Paints Arena and has practiced on that line the past two days in Cranberry.
“Obviously, one of the best players in the world,” said Kahun, whom the Penguins acquired in an offseason trade from the Chicago Blackhawks. “It’s great to play with this guy. He makes it easy for you.”
It wasn’t long ago Kahun was watching Malkin. Growing up in Germany, where NHL games are on after midnight, Kahun would view YouTube clips of Malkin and Crosby and other NHL stars such as his former center in Chicago, Jonathan Toews.
“I watched those guys,” said Kahun, 24. “Now I can play with them. It’s amazing.
“It’s like a dream come true. But at the other end, you need to play with them and you have to be good, help them and just be good as a team. Then the reaction is just keep playing.”
The notion of Kahun playing in the NHL, let alone on lines with NHL all-stars, is somewhat implausible considering he wasn’t drafted. Signed to a two-year entry-level contract in the 2018 offseason, Kahun made the Blackhawks’ NHL lineup out of training camp last September and quickly found himself in a foreign environment.
“Actually, until I came into the NHL, I played my whole life at center,” Kahun said. “That’s the funny thing. I never played wing before. Then I came to Chicago, and they put me on the wing. So that took me like 20 games to get used to it. I never played wing before. Then they started to play me left and right. I got used to it. And now it’s the same here. Sometimes I play left, sometimes I play right.”
Playing primarily with Toews and Pine-Richland product Brandon Saad on the opposite wing, Kahun appeared in all 82 games during his rookie campaign of 2018-19 and recorded 37 points (13 goals, 24 assists).
Acquired in exchange for popular defenseman Olli Maatta in June, Kahun has played in three games this preseason and has no points on four shots.
Figuring out where he fits on this roster remains a work in progress.
“Dom has played both sides, so it’s not something that he’s unfamiliar with,” coach Mike Sullivan said after Wednesday’s game. “Dom is a guy that has pretty good instincts. He can make plays. He’s good in tight areas. I thought he was decent (Wednesday). But that’s one game with (Malkin). He hasn’t played with him throughout the course of the camp.”
Bryan Rust has been skating with Kahun and Malkin the past three days.
“He’s very similar to the other Dominik, in the sense that they’re both extremely smart hockey players,” Rust said. “They kind of know where to be, they’ve got good puck skills and they play hard. Definitely saw a lot of similarities playing with him.”
Regardless of which wing he inhabits, Kahun realizes he has a simple edict if he is to maintain playing time with Crosby or Malkin.
“There are positives and negatives (to playing either wing),” Kahun said. “For example, getting the pass in the (defensive) zone is better when you’re on the left because you are on your forehand. But coming into the zone is better when you are right(-handed) because you can just cut in with your backhand. It has its negative and positives, but I just need to get used to it.
“It doesn’t matter where I play. I just have to be good.”
Seth Rorabaugh is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Seth by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .