At some point this season, it can be expected that Kirby Dach is going to get onto the ice with the Chicago Blackhawks. Whether or not that day is a few weeks from now or next month still is up in the air.
Dach is taking on some contact during practice, and that is a good thing as the team will need him to be ready to go from the get-go when he does get back into the lineup. The Hawks are an interesting team because they could still be competing for a playoff spot when Dach gets into the lineup. While these past matchups have not been great for the team, they do provide an opportunity to improve and show that they can only get better.
Where Dach fits into the lineup will be interesting to see. Any line the team decides to play him on would be instantly better. To begin, I want to talk about some of the issues in the Hawks lineup right now.
The Blackhawks have David Kampf centering Alex DeBrincat and Patrick Kane. That is not a recipe for success for a team going against opponents like Tampa Bay and Florida repeatedly the past few days.
Kampf is a capable center, but not for what DeBrincat and Kane need. With Dach added back into the lineup, we could see shuffling across the entire lineup.
Here is what I think the Chicago Blackhwks lineup could look like when Kirby Dach does get back to the team:
Debrincat – Dach – Kane
Kubalik – Soderberg – Hagel
Janmark – Suter – Strome
Carpenter – Kampf – Kurashev
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Not that big of a changeup, right? I put Soderberg between Kubalik and Hagel because I see those two as good options to play with Jonathan Toews next season, assuming he is back with the team. If that is the case, then Soderberg might be the best substitute right now with his defensive play and better faceoff abilities compared to Suter. Soderberg might be a better mirror for what Jonathan Toews will bring to the team when he is back.
Originally my intention was to put Suter on the wing on the second or third line, but after realizing I still needed a spot for Strome, I decided to keep Strome on the wing and put Suter at center. Those two could switch off on positions, and maybe one will separate himself as the better option for the third line center going into next season.
When it comes to the fourth line, my only complaint is that I believe Kurashev has played better than being a fourth-line player. Kurashev has five goals so far this season. His electric offensive abilities are welcomed, and his 12 points are seventh-best on the team so far with the least amount of ice time among players in the top ten in points.
The Blackhawks lineup is going to look different next season with Dach, Nylander, and hopefully Toews all back ready to go. While this team is filled with promising talent for years to come, I would not be shocked if different players get traded before the deadline in order to make some spots available for next season.
What do you think of Dach on the top line? Obviously that is hinged upon whether or not he is ready to go immediately, but the long-term answer has to be Dach with DeBrincat and Kane, so I think it is the best bet that we will see it sometime before the season ends.