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Montreal Canadiens

Hughes Thinks Dach Could Become ‘Pretty Special Centreman’

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NHL Draft

Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes would’ve loved to have kept defenceman Alexander Romanov and still been able to acquire big centreman Kirby Dach from the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday evening in the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft.

“It was very difficult. We tried to move up. We’ve been talking to Chicago for two or three weeks about Kirby Dach,” Hughes told the media late Thursday night after he made two trades that also included two draft picks needed to pry Dach from the Blackhawks.

“It was very clear to them what they wanted in terms of draft picks. We did everything we could to move up with the many picks that we had, but at the end of the day, we couldn’t convince a team to make the trade with picks. Romanov was one of the players being talked about. We’re disappointed to lose Romy, and we wish him the best with the Islanders. Sometimes to get what we want, we need to make sacrifices, too.”

After stunning a large portion of those in attendance for the first round of the NHL Draft by taking Juraj Slafkovsky instead of Shane Wright with the first overall pick, the Canadiens got a pro centre they had been eyeing for awhile now. As suggested here at Montreal Hockey Now over a month ago, at 21, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound Kirby Dach, can still develop his untapped skill and use the size that led to him being the third overall pick at the 2019 NHL Draft. He can also do so with the young core that the Canadiens are already building.

“We were looking to improve and get a little faster in the middle of the ice,” Hughes said. “There’s also, in a perfect world, an age component to it that he can grow with our young core, and certainly he fit that description for us. We knew that he was available potentially, so we spent a good amount of time trying to understand who he was.

We spoke to a lot of people in and around Chicago associated with the team, even to the extent of speaking with Justin Barron today, who was with him at the World Juniors, just to make sure we understood who the player was. We’re going to invest money in developing hockey players and try to get the most out of their potential. We believe that Kirby has significant potential and we’re hopeful that with the Montreal Canadiens we can bring him along and get him to a point where he’s a pretty special centreman.”

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