The Chicago Blackhawks surprised many by selecting center Kirby Dach with the third overall pick last month and are ready to see what he can bring to the team. The Blackhawks have announced that Dach has signed a maximum entry-level contract of three years and $925K AAV. The deal may slide in each of the next two seasons if Dach does not play in ten games in either season, potentially keeping him on this contract through 2023-24.
Dach will battle for an NHL spot in camp this fall following a junior season that saw him score 73 points in 62 games. One of the leading scorers of the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades, Dach showed tremendous offensive ability for his age and the Blackhawks are banking on those skill and instincts continuing to improve. The decision will come down to whether or not the NHL is the right place for the development to occur at this point.
Working in Dach’s favor is his size. At 6’4″ and 200 lbs., Dach is already playing at a pro size and will be sure to keep filling out his frame while working with Chicago’s staff. Combine his stature with the vision and composure that allows him to use his size down low and in front of the net, and it is very possible that Dach could be ready to make an impact in the NHL already. However, working against Dach is the Blackhawks’ own depth down the middle. Dach is a natural center and Chicago would likely be hesitant to move him from that position just to squeeze him into the lineup. Yet, between Jonathan Toews, Dylan Strome, Artem Anisimov, and several other NHL and AHL options, the team may not feel a need to rush Dach to the NHL stage. With an increased role in Saskatoon and a chance to star for Team Canada at the World Juniors, Dach has a great chance to improve next season without having to play in Chicago.