It wasn’t a particularly good season for Blackhawks center Kirby Dach as he had just 26 points in 70 games, hardly what they were expecting from the third-overall pick in 2019 in his third NHL season. However, as Scott Powers of The Athletic points out (subscription link), Chicago will at least benefit from some internal cap flexibility as his next contract will check in lower than the $5MM or so they were believed to be internally estimating. Now, the 21-year-old is a prime candidate for a two-year bridge deal, one that will allow both sides more time to see if Dach can live up to his potential. While his draft status will boost the price tag a little bit, that contract should be closer to the $3MM range, giving GM Kyle Davidson a bit more wiggle room this summer than he was anticipating at this time a year ago.
Elsewhere in the Central:
- Still with Chicago, the Blackhawks could look to move a pair of youngsters in forward Henrik Borgstrom and defenseman Nicolas Beaudin, suggests Ben Pope of the Chicago Sun-Times. Borgstrom underachieved in his first season back in the NHL, notching just seven points in 52 games while being a frequent scratch which will limit his value to a strict change of scenery swap for another underachiever. Beaudin, however, is a bit more notable as it wasn’t long ago that he was viewed as a piece of Chicago’s future back end. But he struggled considerably with AHL Rockford this season, notching just 16 points in 66 games (hardly ideal for someone that was an offensive blueliner in the QMJHL) while being scratched for all but one of their playoff games. Both players have one year left on their contracts with Borgstrom making $1MM on a one-way deal and Beaudin $863K on his entry-level pact.
- While Minnesota has provided injury updates on some of their players, they haven’t done so yet for defenseman Jon Merrill who has undergone surgery for an upper-body injury sustained during his first game (and shift) at the Worlds. However, Michael Russo of The Athletic believes (subscription link) that the blueliner is expected to be out longer than the six-week period given for winger Mats Zuccarello and defender Jared Spurgeon for their surgeries. Merrill had a good first year for the Wild in a depth role, picking up 20 points in 69 games, earning himself a three-year extension midseason as a reward.