SAN JOSE – Lukas Radil has no doubt been one of the biggest surprises through the first half of the Sharks' 2018-19 season. On Sunday, the team rewarded the Czech winger by inking him to a one-year contract extension.
"I'm very excited. My dream's still going," a smiling Radil told the media after Monday morning's practice, miming that he was still pinching himself.
Since making his NHL debut on November 23 against the Vancouver Canucks, the 28-year-old rookie has registered nine points (six goals, three assists) and a plus-8 rating in 18 games. Even though Radil had a few years of KHL experience when the Sharks signed him in April of 2018, head coach Peter DeBoer acknowledged he was impressed with how quickly he has adjusted to playing at the NHL level.
"Some guys just fit better at this level," the coach said. "He's one of those veteran guys that I think – if you're a good player you like playing with a guy like that because he has some composure with the puck and he has some ability to make some plays and some offensive instincts."
The quick adjustment to the league has allowed Radil to move up to the Sharks' de facto second line with Logan Couture and Timo Meier. While Radil already played a confident game, DeBoer said the promotion in the ranks has boosted it.
"He always had a little bit of swagger where he wasn't afraid to make plays," DeBoer said. "I think as he's gotten some points and as he's moved up in the lineup with better players, or more offensive players, I think he's taken that to another level. And he's getting around the net and the puck's finding him."
Radil has been adjusting off the ice as well with help from his teammates. The Caslav, Czech Republic native said the whole team has been helpful, specifically naming fellow countryman Tomas Hertl – who told NBC Sports California back in December he was helping Radil and defenseman Radim Simek out as much as he could.
"For me and for Radim it's a big advantage if somebody's been here a long time," Radil said of having an ally in the dressing room when English isn't your first language. "We're Czech and we're close because we speak the same language. But I think the whole locker room helped me a lot. Everybody's really nice."
So, how did Radil celebrate his contract extension? "With my girlfriend, she's here. So we just (went) out to dinner," he said with a chuckle. "We honestly went to the Czech restaurant yesterday. I had schnitzel and typical Czech food."