Kirby Dach's Name Now Out There In Trade Rumors. It Is Going To Be A WILD Summer In Chicago
We are on the verge of what should be an INCREDIBLE Stanley Cup Final and we've seen one of the greatest playoff tournaments of my lifetime, but about a week ago I said this
Well ever since I said that I feel like the news we've gotten about the Blackhawks has put a pit in my stomach. First it was the Debrincat news. I think if Davidson can execute trading Debrincat properly that is probably the right move even if it makes me want to puke. The reality of the situation is that giving Debrincat 10M+ after this year isn't going to get the Blackhawks closer to the Stanley Cup. Closer to the playoffs...yes, but not a Cup. They could probably turn Debrincat into 4 NHL players that someday will help this team pursue a championship which is always the goal.
Does trading Kirby Dach accomplish that same goal? Well, that is not as obvious to me. Dach's current value likely will never be lower. He is an RFA and is coming off a horrible 3rd professional season. His faceoffs were brutal. The production wasn't there. The confidence doesn't seem to be there either.
Here is the thing though...the Blackhawks are completely devoid of young offensive talent on the roster or in the prospect pool. Kirby Dach is still just 21 years old. He is still 6'4, 200lbs, with pretty good feet, a good degree of skill, and he naturally plays a pretty responsible 2-way game. A large problem with Dach is perception. People see him as a 3rd overall pick who has been passed by players drafted after him and players younger than him. Dach was always a reach at #3 in that draft. Dach didn't draft himself 3rd overall. If the lottery gods weren't smiling down on the Blackhawks that year and the Hawks ended up with the 12th pick like they were supposed to and Dach falls to them at 12 (possible), what would his perception be?
Dach also didn't put himself in the NHL at age 18 well before he was ready for that level. He didn't hire a BRUTAL coaching staff led by a complete neophyte who did nothing for his development and confidence. Dach may have lobbied to play for Team Canada u20 where he eventually got injured, but you can hardly blame him for that. Bowman and the Blackhawks NEVER should've let him go to that tournament. Dach basically had two full years of development stolen from him by poor management from the Blackhawks. 2021-22 really should've been his 1st NHL season.
If Dach was a rookie last year in yet another chaotic Blackhawks season and he put up 26 points in 70 games for a team that had exactly ONE regulation win against a playoff team (this is a real stat. That one win was against Edmonton and they fired their coach the next day) then we'd probably still look at Dach as a tantalizing young piece that can be part of the rebuild if he develops properly. I think that is the appropriate way to look at him.
Now, Dach has to take some responsibility here too. There are whispers about how dedicated he is to getting better. There are whispers about lets say "money management" concerns and how he spends his time off the ice. Perhaps, ya know, some of that is natural from getting handed everything at 18 because the then GM needed Dach to be a roster player at age 18. Dach might have to re-dedicate himself to being a pro and have a BIG summer. He needs to get back to being that player that we saw in the bubble. There have been moments of brilliance from Dach. Moments to grasp on to and believe. He is a charming kid with a lot of talent. That talent needs to be cultivated now by the team and by also by Dach himself.
He can be that 2-way 55 point point top 6 center. Giving up on a 6'4 200lb center with hands and feet at age 21 seems like a mistep when there are literally zero centers in the pipeline. Reset expectations. Reset a development plan. I don't think he should be just handed a qualifying offer. I think there needs to be a bridge deal that is good for the player and for the team. 3 years at $2.5-3M seems fair. That gives the Blackhawks a chance to really actually try to develop him and it gives Dach a chance to work on his game without pressure and external forces working against him. If he gets where everyone wants him to be then the Blackhawks have a nice piece to the puzzle in house and Dach gets to be a free agent again at 24 years old when presumably the salary cap will finally being going up and normalizing post-covid. Big-body players ALWAYS seem to take a little longer to develop in the NHL and Dach can be another example of that. If Dach doesn't turn into the player the Blackhawks hoped by age 24 then they can walk away at that point because they would've give Dach and their new staff proper amounts of time to develop him. I don't think whoever/whatever they get in return for Dach is going to have more upside than Dach himself. I could be wrong, but that is what my instincts say about any potential return. It would really sting to see Dach flourish somewhere else the way Danault has as the Blackhawks continue to look for building blocks up the middle.