Defenseman Michal Kempny is trying to make the jump from the Kontinental Hockey League to the Chicago Blackhawks, a path very successfully navigated by forward Artemi Panarin last season.
"I'm here to do my best," Kempny told the Chicago Sun-Times. "I'm going to try to make it to the [NHL] team. I'm very glad Artemi was also successful, and I'm going to try to follow him."
Panarin, 24, won the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year after scoring 30 goals with 47 assists (77 points) in 80 games. He had 62 points in 54 games for St. Petersburg SKA the season prior, according to Hockeydb.com.
Kempny, 25, had five goals and 21 points playing for Omsk Avangard last season, his first in the KHL. The Czech Republic native would not say if the Blackhawks guaranteed him an NHL roster spot after agreeing to a one-year contract on May 24.
"I don't want to disclose what was said to me, whether I'm going to play or not," Kempny said.
He is at development camp competing for a likely third-pair assignment behind Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Brent Seabrook and Brian Campbell.
Video: Michal Kempny meets the media
"We're very high on Michal Kempny," general manager Stan Bowman told the newspaper. "Everything's new to him over here now. He has one year in the KHL and he did great his first year there, and we're hoping he has a great transition to the NHL as well. [Including Campbell], you put all that together, and our defense is looking very, very strong. It's a strong point of our team right now."
Kempny played seven seasons in Czech Extraliga.
"I'm very glad I'm here," he said. "I was targeted by Chicago. I think Chicago likes defensemen who skate a lot and who are very creative, and I think that's my style."