After Kirby Dach returned from injury and was officially ready to start his 2019-20 campaign with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team had a decision to make at the 10-game mark. They could return the 18-year-old to the Saskatoon Blades to continue his development or keep him up on the big club, taking one year off his entry-level deal.
They chose the latter — and it's paying off.
Dach scored Chicago's first two goals in Sunday's 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres, his first coming on an impressive backhand effort that combined speed, vision and hands. That tally extended his point streak to four games, and his second-period score gave him six points — including four goals — over his last five games. He's just the fourth 18-year-old to record a point streak of four or more games in NHL history, according to NHL PR.
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Slotting in as the fourth-line center, Dach continues to get better with each game, showing more confidence in himself as he begins his NHL career. The 6-foot-4, 197-pound forward is starting to use his size to his advantage, engaging in battles for the puck and crashing the net while also doing what he can to get in high-scoring areas — though he could stand to incorporate a bit more physicality into his game.
But back to his point totals. Dach has scored 5 goals and totalled 9 points in 14 games. If he produced at that rate over the course of a full season, he would score 29 goals and 52 points, despite averaging just 11:13 minutes per game. The fast start shows Dach is more than ready for the NHL ranks and should quiet critics who thought he wasn't worthy of being picked No. 3 overall in this year's draft.
Kirby Dach gives the Hawks the first period lead with his 4⃣th of the season on a beautiful backhand. pic.twitter.com/rjXq8Ro21i
— Sporting News Canada (@sportingnewsca) November 18, 2019
His two-goal night Sunday puts his point toal in second place among this year's draft class, one point behind Jack Hughes despite playing in two fewer games than him.
The Blackhawks entered Sunday averaging 3.0 goals per game (tied for 15th in the NHL) and now sit one point out of a wild card spot as they look to bounce back from a disappointing 2018-19. And with Dach, they're getting the secondary scoring that they need when it comes to the bottom six, especially on the fourth line.
While some of his success may be attributed to puck luck, his production is due to effort and continued strong play. He's going to the right places, using his hockey IQ to his advantage and playing a solid all-around game at both ends of the ice.
Dach may be quietly going about his business at the moment, standing in the shadow of classmates Hughes and Kaapo Kakko, but he's riding a hot streak right now — and is proving a thing or two when it comes to meeting and surpassing the expectations set for him.