Dominik Kahun stepped to the forefront in the Edmonton Oilers’ come-from-behind 4-3 victory over the host Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on Tuesday night.
The 25-year-old left-winger scored twice and had a chance at the hat trick when he was on the ice in the dying seconds with Vancouver’s net empty, as Edmonton coach Dave Tippett entrusted him with helping preserve the lead.
Edmonton trailed 3-0 late in the first period before Kahun potted a critical, momentum-shifting goal just 1:17 before the intermission. After a scoreless second period, he struck again early in the third, putting the puck behind Canucks netminder Thatcher Demko at 0:55, and igniting an Oilers rally that saw Connor McDavid and Tyler Ennis score to complete the comeback.
It was by far Kahun’s biggest game as a member of the Oilers and gave him the spotlight for the first time since joining Edmonton as a free agent in the offseason. He now has four goals and four assists, and is one of just six forwards to play in all 21 games for Edmonton thus far.
To this point, Kahun is probably best known in Edmonton as the buddy of Oilers superstar centre Leon Draisaitl. The pair grew up in Germany playing together both at the club level and on the national junior team. Reunited as Oilers, Draisaitl and Kahun have spent the first six weeks of this season playing together on a line with right-wing Kailer Yamamoto.
But as Kahun showed Tuesday, he’s a player with some skill who could have some say in how far the Oilers go this season. The 5-foot-11 forward is also someone who’s had an interesting journey and is worth getting to know a bit better.
Born in the Czech Republic, Kahun was three years old when his family moved to Germany. His first experience of higher-level hockey came in the Schüler-Bundesliga with Mannheimer ERC U16, where he played three seasons, 2008-09 through 2010-11, the last two alongside Drasaitl.
The two friends then moved up to Jungadler Mannheim U18 of the DNL, the German Development League. In 2011-12, they were the top two point-producers on the team: Kahun with 21 goals and 36 assists in 36 games; Draisaitl with 21 goals and 35 assists in 35 games.
With sights set on the NHL, Kahun came to Canada to play major junior for the Sudbury Wolves in the Ontario Hockey League, while Draisaitl signed with the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League. They would get back together as members of Team Germany at the 2013 and 2014 World Juniors.
In 2014, Draisaitl got picked third overall by the Oilers and was a full-time NHLer by the following year. Kahun, however, did not hear his name called at the NHL Draft, and signed with EHC Red Bull München of the DEL, Germany’s top pro league.
Kahun played four seasons for EHC München, and was with the club for its run of three straight DEL championships from 2016 to 2018.
Olympic Springboard to the NHL
At the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, which was the first Olympics since 1994 to not feature NHL players in the men’s hockey tournament, Kahun had opportunity to shine. He scored two goals and added three assists in seven games, helping Germany on a Cinderella run that saw the Germans come within seconds of upsetting the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) in the gold medal final. Germany received silver, its first medal in men’s hockey since capturing bronze in 1976.
On May 21, 2018, three months after PyeongChang, Kahun signed an entry-level contract with the Chicago Blackhawks.
As an NHL rookie, Kahun played in all 82 games for Chicago in the 2018-19 season. Used mostly on a line with Jonathan Towes and Brandon Saad, Kahun notched 13 goals and 37 points.
The Blackhawks traded Kahun and a fifth-round draft pick to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Olli Maatta on June 15, 2019. Kahun had 10 goals and 27 points through 50 games with the Penguins, when he found himself on the move again, dealt to the Buffalo Sabres for Evan Rodrigues and Conor Sheary at the trade deadline on Feb. 24, 2020. He only played six games with the Sabres, scoring a pair of goals and adding two helpers, before the suspension of the NHL season on March 12.
Settling in Edmonton
Kahun signed a one-year, $975,000 contract with the Oilers on Nov. 2, 2020, joining his fourth NHL organization in a span of two and a half years.
While his numbers so far in Edmonton haven’t jumped off the page, Kahun clearly has the confidence of Dave Tippett; the coach has kept Kahun in a consistent role playing alongside the NHL’s reigning scoring champ and MVP, Draisaitl.
With eight points, Kahun is tied for seventh on the Oilers. The winger has recorded points in consecutive games three times, but also had pointless droughts of eight and five games. He’s registered 33 shots, seventh most on the roster, and is tied for sixth with a plus-minus rating of three.
Winners of 10 of their last 12 games, Edmonton is on a hot streak that has largely been propelled by its secondary scoring, which is exactly what Kahun delivered in Vancouver on Tuesday. To remain around the top of the standings, the Oilers will need such production to continue from Kahun and his fellow supporting cast.
Brian is an Edmonton-based sports writer and broadcaster. His experience includes working as a sports reporter for the Edmonton Sun, where he covered the Edmonton Oil Kings 2013-14 Memorial Cup championship season.