Kirby Dach skated off the ice after the Rockford IceHogs’ 3-2 win Friday night, but when he’ll return to game action is unknown.
Dach, who was selected third overall in this year’s NHL draft, was recalled by the Blackhawks late Friday night from his AHL conditioning stint. He had seven shots in three games as he worked his way into game shape after being out since Sept. 10 with a concussion.
Dach said Saturday morning after the Blackhawks’ optional skate that he did not know when or where in the lineup he’d play in his NHL debut.
Jeremy Colliton taking the optional for talking to reporters today, so we won't know what the plan is for Kirby Dach until tomorrow.— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) October 19, 2019
The Blackhawks’ next game is Sunday against the Capitals at the United Center. The team can give Dach up to nine NHL games before deciding whether they want to use the first year of his entry-level contract or send him back to the Saskatoon Blades in the WHL.
It’s unlikely Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton slots Dach into the third-line center role behind Jonathan Toews and Dylan Strome given the success the trio of Brandon Saad, David Kampf and Dominik Kubalik have found together on the third line. Colliton could start Dach at center or wing, the latter would give him less responsibility and hide his struggles at the faceoff dot.
Option 1: Fourth line
Dach made his professional debut as the fourth-line center last week with the IceHogs. He shifted up in the lineup throughout the game, and went from “fourth line” to third line in his second game and first line Friday. The Blackhawks could use this approach, especially if they hold off on him making his debut until Tuesday against the Golden Knights. It would ease him into the lineup, but being on the fourth line wouldn’t put him in the best position to create offensively.
Option 2: Second line
Colliton could start Dach in a top-six role. As a center, Dach could be in the middle between Dylan Strome, who has played left wing in the past, and Alex DeBrincat in a showcase of what could be a future line for years to come or with Strome and Patrick Kane. As a winger, Dach would be with Strome and DeBrincat or DeBrincat and Kane. In both cases, Andrew Shaw would likely drop down to the fourth line.
Strome — Dach — DeBrincat/Kane
Kane/DeBrincat — Strome — Dach
Option 3: First line
With a sink or swim mentality, Colliton could put Dach up on the top line with Jonathan Toews. This isn’t out of the realm of possibility as Dach alternated with Drake Caggiula and DeBrincat in this role in practice prior to his AHL assignment. Kane could also be another option on the top line with Dach and Toews.
Caggiula/DeBrincat/Kane — Toews — Dach
Where do you think Kirby Dach will debut in the Blackhawks’ lineup?
This poll is closed
First line - winger
Second line - center
Second line - winger
Fourth line - center
Fourth line - winger
Comment below how you see the lineup shaping up with Dach.