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What’s up, Dach? Blackhawks young center returns from injury

The No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft made his 2021 season debut on Saturday night.

Nashville Predators v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images

The Blackhawks lineup saw a welcome return on Saturday night at the United Center when Kirby Dach suited up for his first game of the 2021 NHL season.

Dach, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, was injured on Dec. 23 during a World Juniors pre-tournament game against Russia when he collided with a Russian player in the neutral zone and skated to the bench, clutching his right wrist. Dach later had surgery to repair the fractured wrist, with the initial prognosis that it would be 4-5 months before Dach could return to “hockey-related activities,” let alone game action.

Three months later, he was back on the ice for an NHL game.

It didn’t take long for Dach to flash the ability that made him such a high draft pick, too:

Dach opened the game centering Mattias Janmark and Dylan Strome on Chicago’s third line and also took a shift on the Blackhawks’ top power-play unit after a Nashville penalty. In all Dach, skated six shifts in the opening period, totaling 5:27 and was credited with one shot on goal.

Dach played 64 games in his rookie season, finishing with 8 goals and 15 assists while averaging 14:16 of ice time. He took a massive leap forward in the 2020 postseason, though, notching one goal with five assists while playing in all nine games with an average ice time of 19:24 that was second most among Blackhawks forwards.