Look, I am known by friends and family to be quite the optimist. So let me just get that out there now. I try my best to look at all situations with rose-colored glasses. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that Kirby Dach has been nothing short of a disappointment for the Chicago Blackhawks. After the Blackhawks scored in the 2019 lottery with the third overall pick, they landed Kirby Dach out of the WHL where he played with the Bantam Blades. Since then, there has been some promise, though that promise has been egregiously outweighed by the disappointment. So how is it that I can maintain hope in Kirby Dach?
Most of my hope for a successful future for Dach is rooted in how poorly his time with the team has been handled as well as how it has unfolded. Many Hawks fans are upset by Dach being selected third overall, which is understandable when you see Alex Turcotte, Moritz Seider, and Trevor Zegras, amongst others, below Dach on the board. The reality is that according to the NHL Central Scouting Services, Dach was ranked as the third best prospect. Former GM Stan Bowman drafting Dach there isn't as much of a reach as people want to make it.
I say this not to give credit to Bowman, but instead to prove that many people around the league objectively viewed Dach as a highly skilled prospect. Dach has the talent to be great. And I am willing to believe that it might still materialize in the NHL. He might just need some more time.
Look, his numbers aren't great. I'll give you that for sure. In 152 games, he has recorded just 59 points (only 19 of which are goals!). So you're looking at an average of about one point every 3 games. That is criminally unacceptable for the third overall pick. That's barely acceptable to be on the roster, especially as an offensive player. It's just unacceptable. That's just what it is. So where is my hope founded?
Consider the MANY factors at play in Dach's development:
1. He was called up to the team immediately.
Bowman apparently thought the addition of Dach would be enough for a serious postseason run...
2. He has been through several injuries.
Injuries which have prevented him from completing a full season.
3. He came up during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This changed everything.
4. He went through a coaching change and organizational overhaul.
Whatever he thought it would be like to play for the Blackhawks was turned upside down.
Every single one of those factors has played into Dach's development. You can't tell me it hasn't. Not many other 2019 rookies have had to deal with these factors other than the COVID-19 issue. He was mismanaged the second he was on the team. He needed more time with the Rockford Icehogs, instead of being a Chicago Blackhawk instantly. Then, after a mostly optimistic rookie season, he suffered the dreadful wrist injury during the World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, which caused him to miss all of training camp as well as almost the entire season (one that would have been crucial to his development). Then, to make matters worse, before this year really got too far, the only head coach and front office he had ever known was turned upside down.
He has been through a lot and has played very little hockey over 3 years because of it. I look at all of these as reasons to give Dach a bit of a pass. I know there may be some that think this makes him "soft." But let me just say, he wouldn't be in the NHL if he were truly soft. I really think it is unfair to judge Dach without including these caveats. Every sport has late bloomers. I think Dach may be one of those. Let's steady the outrage, and give him another two or three years to develop and then we can reevaluate where he is at. You never know how a new coach and front office regime may help him as well.