Montreal Canadiens: Kirby Dach Must Take Another Step Towards Stardom

Nov 25, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Montreal Canadiens center Kirby Dach Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 25, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Montreal Canadiens center Kirby Dach Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /

The Canadiens acquired Kirby Dach from the Blackhawks at last year’s NHL draft in exchange for a first-round pick (13th overall) and 3rd round pick (66th overall) in said draft. The Blackhawks were starting their rebuild over and were moving on from Dach, and the Canadiens took the opportunity to provide Dach a new home.

Dach’s impact with the Canadiens was almost immediate, and he continued to grow as a player throughout the season. He finished the season with 38 points, a career-high despite playing in just 58 games. Now Dach must take another step going into this season as he continues to develop as a player.

Dach, a former third overall pick in the 2019 draft has the makings to be a star in the NHL. He’s got the size, standing at six-foot-four, and a great set of hands to go with it. He’s also a good skater for his size and as such has a great toolkit the Canadiens are trying to unlock.

Last season was a great example of what Dach can do. Now it’s about putting it together and kicking it up a notch heading into this season. Earlier this summer, our very own Tyler Major-Mcnicol wrote about Dach needing to centre his own line as opposed to playing on Suzuki’s wing. I agree and hope to see him get the opportunity. I think his game is best suited for the middle of the ice.

One of the knocks on Dach for a while was his inability or perhaps unwillingness to use his size to his advantage. He definitely started to do more of that last season, and the results speak for themselves. Even just looking at how the majority of his career-high 14 goals came, they look to be a by-product of using his size, going to the net for deflections, rebounds, or tap-ins.

The natural evolution is to continue to refine his physical game, winning more puck battles in the corners, getting to the front of the net and just imposing his will upon his opponents. But Dach could also stand to gain from becoming a more perimeter threat. As mentioned earlier, his hands are great, but his shot could certainly improve.

Luckily for Canadiens fans, he’s working on it. If Dach can become more of a threat as a goal scorer, he becomes that much more effective as a player. His shot doesn’t need to be lethal, like that of Caufield’s but it becoming a weapon for him that will keep goalies on their toes is a huge plus for Dach.

Dach could also stand to gain from an improvement in the face-off circle, especially if he wants to stick it as a centre with the Canadiens. He won just 38% of his draws last season which is just not good enough. Still, Dach has the makings to be a very good centreman in the NHL.

The Canadiens want to start winning games pretty soon and if they’re going to do that, Dach will be a big part of that. He took a big step in 2022-23, but now he needs to find another gear in 23-24. He has the toolkit to be a star in the NHL, it’s just about unlocking it. He’s getting there, but this season will be a big test for him.

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