Drafted to be the long-term replacement for Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, Kirby Dach has yet to play a full season for the Hawks.
With strong individual performances during a disappointing start to the season for the Chicago Blackhawks, the 20-year-old Dach is earning top-line minutes after three games in his third year. Dach was drafted to be the future but is quickly becoming one of the more important figures in the present.
One could only imagine how deflating it must be to sit in the press box and watch your teammates play the game you love. Kirby Dach experienced that for most of last season. The 2019 3rd overall draft pick injured his wrist, which required surgery, in an exhibition game for Team Canada at the World Juniors before the season even started. He was slated for a mid-to-late season return and did return after 34 games missed in March.
Fans and pundits alike were speculating that it was too early for him to start playing again as his timetable, originally of 4-5 months, would have had him back in April at the earliest. Dach appeared in 18 games for the Hawks in 2021 and put up 10 points from 2 goals and 8 assists but as the season wound down and Chicago was out of the playoff race, it was revealed that Kirby had been experiencing complications from the surgery and would sit out the final 3 games.
The 2021-22 season will hopefully be Dach’s first full season in a Blackhawks uniform. In 2019-20, he played 64 games before the season was cut short and played well in the playoffs scoring 6 points in 9 games, helping the Blackhawks upset the Edmonton Oilers in the qualifying round.
The Blackhawks have Dach back at full health as well as Jonathan Toews who missed all of last season due to illness. Dach has the potential to one day replace Toews has a top-line center and possibly even team captain once the 33-year-old hangs up his skates. At only 20, the former is already proving he can take those minutes as he has been skating with Patrick Kane on the top line.
Chicago has lost their first 3 games of the season with one loss coming in overtime and head coach Jeremy Colliton has a lot to think about regarding line construction and making sure this team is ready for their first homestand of the season.
Wins in these four games are desperately needed and Kirby Dach may be the answer. He has scored two goals early in the season one coming on the powerplay against the New Jersey Devils which cut the deficit to 3-2 allowing the Hawks to tie the game only a few rushes later.
At six foot four, Dach adds size to a line that has thus far featured Tyler Johnson and Alex DeBrincat beside Kane who are all under six feet. Brandon Hagel could sneak in some top-line minutes beside them based on this tweet from Mark Lazerus:
This is an excellent opportunity to play alongside one of the game’s best goal-scorers and another young player looking to prove he belongs among the top-6 forwards. This is Kirby Dach’s time to prove to his coach, teammates, and fans that although he is expected to be the future, he’s ready to shine and be a star for this team in the present.