Chicago Blackhawks’ rookie center Kirby Dach is no stranger to adversity. He was considered by many a “reach” as the third overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. Some fans were skeptical when he was promoted to the NHL roster after just a three-game rehabilitation stint with the Rockford IceHogs. It seemed like Kirby Dach just couldn’t do right by the fanbase. Then, he began to show his worth.
In his first season with the team, Dach recorded eight goals and 15 assists over 64 games. While those numbers don’t necessarily stand out on paper, Dach was actually tied for first among the top-20 picks from the 2019 Draft with 23 points. For a 19-year-old who essentially made the jump straight from juniors to the show, there’s plenty to be excited about. Obviously he’s far from perfect. He’s been abused in the faceoff circle, he still needs to add weight to his 6-foot-4 frame, and he has a long way to go as a facilitator. Those points aside, Dach wasn’t expected to light up the league from the get-go.
Then, the highly anticipated playoff matchup with the Edmonton Oilers arrived. In three games, Kirby Dach has already proved himself worthy of meaningful minutes during playoff hockey. He’s recorded an assist in every game this postseason, including a pair in game two, for a total of four in three games. Dach also holds a plus/minus of +4, showing he hasn’t been a defensive liability. Head coach Jeremy Colliton even trusted the youngster enough to deploy him the most of any forward (23:21 TOI) in the Blackhawks’ game three victory. However, where the upside is truly showing is what doesn’t show up in the box score.
Dach has looked like a finely tuned machine compared to his last regular-season appearance. His ability to maneuver between defenders, play aggressively on the boards, and provide net-front presence have been incredibly important to the Blackhawks’ success.
He has also greatly improved on his passing, which has helped set up numerous Blackhawks’ scoring chances. The team needs a consistent presence in the middle when Jonathan Toews is off the ice, and Kirby Dach has answered the call.
Is Kirby Dach a complete player yet? Absolutely not. Kirby Dach is, however, exactly where you want him to be in his development at this stage of his career.