With the blockbuster trade on Friday afternoon, the Blackhawks united Caleb and Seth Jones on the same roster. Saturday, they followed suit by selecting Colton Dach, Kirby’s younger brother, at pick #62 overall. What kind of player is Dach, and how can he help the ‘Hawks?
The first place to start is to compare him to his brother, taken at #3 overall in the draft 2 years ago. While not the elite prospect that his older brother was, Colton is a legitimate NHL prospect in his own right. NHL Central Scouting had him as the 19th-rated North American skater, and 3rd best player out of the WHL. Other scouting services had him in the 70s, and as low as 100th rated overall player.
At first glance, there are a lot of similarities between Colton and Kirby Dach. They both are bigger players, standing at 6’4″, and weighing in at just under 200 lbs. They are both average to above-average skaters, but have the benefit of a long, deceptive stride, which makes it harder for opponents to gauge and stop.
They both boast solid hands, and a willingness to get into the dirty areas on the ice, and are hard workers on both ends of the ice, making them effective 200-foot players. But from there you start to see some differences in their game.
Kirby is more of a playmaker, setting the table for his teammates through his hard work and effort. Colton is more of a natural scorer, boasting a strong, accurate shot that seems effective from all areas of the offensive zone. However, there are some concerns about the offensive boost (11 goals in 20 games vs. 11 goals in 62 games last season) being related to a wide-open season in the WHL.
While Kirby is a natural center, Colton is better suited to the wing, as he is less of a play-driver than his brother. Kirby is projected to be a #1 center for the ‘Hawks moving forward, while Colton seems like he is heading towards a future in the middle 6 if he develops to where the team thinks he can get.
I think if the ‘Hawks are realistic about his chances, Colton Dach is a long-term piece, planned for 2023 and beyond. But we can’t count out the sibling rivalry, as we saw in a feature on the Dach brothers, they bring out the best in each other in everything they do. Kirby could push Colton harder by being in camp with him to force the ‘Hawks to consider him sooner.
My assumption is he will be given a chance to develop for a year or two before competing for a roster spot on the NHL squad, where he can work on his skating, his decision-making, and build some strength. One of the things Kirby found out quickly in the NHL is that his size was less of an advantage while he could be overpowered by his opponents.
There is an outside chance that he could push for playing time or a 9-game tryout this season, but as crowded as the Blackhawks are at Forward, I don’t expect that to be the case. However, he has something that much of the ‘Hawks roster doesn’t have: size. If Colliton wants the team to be more physical, and harder to play against, that could accelerate their timeline for Colton.
Long Term Outlook
Starting in the 2023 season, I see Colton pushing for a spot in the middle 6, where he can land on the wing, and bring some physicality to his line, as well as a net-front presence on special teams, maybe second power play unit.
He has the ability and skill set to establish himself as a scoring threat on the wing in the offensive zone, and a potential shutdown forward in the defensive zone.
Did the Blackhawks reach for Dach? There are several who believe they reached for both Dach brothers. But one of the biggest shortcomings on the roster was the lack of size and physicality up front. Colton Dach is a step in the right direction, and we will see whether he can develop into the player they think he can.