Kirby Dach hopes for a fresh start with the Canadiens

The Chicago Blackhawks selected the 6-foot-4, 197-pound center with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.

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Instead of getting Shane Wright, the Canadiens will get Kirby Dach as their new center back next season.

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General manager Kent Hughes decided to take the 6-foot-4, 229-pound left-hander Jurej Slafkovsky with the No. 1 overall pick in the NHL Draft on Thursday night instead of Wright, who ended up dropping to No. 4 with the Seattle Kraken. .

Wright was the highest-rated North American prospect by NHL Central Scouting, while Slafkovsky was the highest-rated European.

While the pick was somewhat of a surprise, Hughes had a bigger surprise up his sleeve when he made two trades soon after: first he sent defenseman Alexander Romanov to the New York Islanders and then he took the No. 13 overall pick he received in that deal. and sent it. to the Blackhawks to get Dach.

Dach was the Blackhawks’ No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, the same year the Canadiens selected Cole Caufield at No. 15. As an 18-year-old rookie the next season with Chicago, Dach recorded 8 -15-23 totals in 64 regular season games and added 1-5-6 totals in nine playoff games.

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The following season, the Blackhawks loaned Dach to Team Canada for the junior world championship and he was supposed to be captain before he suffered a fractured right wrist during a pre-tournament game that required surgery, forcing him to miss the event. The injury limited him to 18 games that season with the Blackhawks, posting 2-8-10 totals, and he missed the final three games of the season after aggravating his wrist injury.

Last season, Dach missed three games in January after being placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol and missed the final eight games of the season due to a sprained shoulder. In 70 games, he posted totals of 9-17-26 and was under-18 while averaging 18:03 of ice time and winning just 32.8 percent of his matchups.

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Dach is now looking for a fresh start with the Canadiens and they’re hoping coach Martin St. Louis can help the 6-foot-4, 197-pound player reach his full potential. It is important to remember that Dach is only 21 years old and will not turn 22 until January 21. He is coming off his three-year NHL entry-level contract that had a salary cap of $925,000 and may become a restricted free agent. next week, so Hughes still needs to sign him.

“I think it will be good for me to have a fresh start and be the player that I know I can be,” Dach said during a video conference Friday afternoon. “I feel like I’m pretty offensive and I’m smart with the puck and I can make plays. But also that reliable two-way center who is big and strong in the middle of the ice, who skates well and can make plays. I feel like Montreal is a place where I can flourish with that. I’ve talked to some of the guys and they love Marty as a coach. I feel like him and I will get along and he will help me bring out my best skills and become a dominant player.

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“Marty is well respected in the league and I’m very excited for the opportunity to work with him and some of the guys in Montreal, the front group there and start a new chapter,” added Dach. . “I’m really super excited to be a part of the Canadiens.”

Dach said his time in Chicago was full of ups and downs and thanked the Blackhawks for the opportunity they gave him and former teammate Brent Seabrook, with whom he lived for his first two seasons as he adjusted to life in the NHL. in Windy City.

“But I couldn’t be more excited to join the Canadiens, especially with the trend they’re in and the team they’ve got,” added Dach. “A young core mixed with the veteran leadership that they have there. With the coaching staff and the management group, I think they are on the right track and I can’t wait for September to come and get things rolling.”

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Dach is already in a relationship with Kaiden Guhle, the Canadiens’ first-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, because the Alberta natives have sparred together for the past four or five years and texted each other almost simultaneously after they met. the exchange was announced Thursday night.

Dach only played at the Bell Center twice during his NHL career, noting that he loves the ice and the atmosphere with the fans and hopes they will cheer him on. Other than that, he doesn’t know much about Montreal.

“I haven’t done much tourism,” he said. “I heard the food scene is great there. I’m a big foodie so this will be good for me. I like to buy. It is also a nice little fashion city. It’s exciting. There’s a lot of new stuff for me to pick up there. Maybe start working on my French a little bit so we can talk a little better that way.”

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