Kirby Dach is ready to find his potential with the Montreal Canadiens and Martin St. Louis could be the perfect coach to light the fire under him. Many around the NHL believe more ‘fire’ is the only thing missing for the third overall pick from the 2019 NHL Draft.
“Look, I love this kid and I think the sky’s the limit for him,” an NHL pro scout told Montreal Hockey Now Saturday afternoon. “Here’s the thing though, I want him to find that mean streak. …that passion I know he has and have seen him play with. I know it’s there and that’s why I told my boss we need to get him but Kent pulled it off. I’m telling you now, when al is said and done, this could be part of his legacy as a GM. He must see it there too.”
Since the Chicago Blackhawks took him third overall at the 2019 NHL Draft, Dach, as any under 21 NHLer does, has found the transition from juniors to the NHL difficult at times but has also been the victim of Murphy’s Law at times as well. After the former Saskatoon Blades center scored eight goals and 15 assists in 64 games as a rookie in 2019-20, Dach injured his wrist playing for Hockey Canada at the 2020 World Juniors in December, 2020. He had surgery that kept him out of the Blackhawks lineup for over four months. He finished his sophomore season with two goals and eight assists in 18 games. His third season wasn’t much better as nine goals and 17 assists in 70 games.
This is isn’t the Dach that most expected when he scored 25 goals and had 48 assists in 62 games in his last season with the Blades. Whether it’s a lack of fire or it’s bad luck, there’s still untapped talent there for the 6-foot-4, 200-pound centre. Even the newest Montreal Canadiens centre acknowledged Friday that he’s still adjusting to being a pro at the young age of 21.
“I think it will be good for me to kind of have a fresh start and be the player I know I can be,” Dach said during a Zoom call with the media. “I feel like I’m pretty offensive and I’m smart with the puck and can make plays. But also that reliable two-way centreman that’s big and strong down the middle of the ice, that skates well and can make plays. I feel like Montreal’s a place where I can flourish with that. I’ve talked to a few of the guys and they love Marty as the coach. I feel like him and I are going to get along good and he’s going to help me bring out my best skill assets and become a dominant player.”
That’s almost what the aforementioned NHL pro scout told MHN Saturday when predicting what Dach could do under the coaching and mentoring of St. Louis.
“Marty may be the best thing to happen for Dach,” the scout said. “His fire; his heart, the motivation he oozes is exactly what this kid needs for his confidence and his game. This kid is gonna kill it under Marty.”
The Montreal Canadiens are obviously hoping this scout is right and when speaking with the media after he made the trade on Thursday evening, Kent Hughes acknowledged that the untapped potential of Dach and the chance to develop and reach it as the young core of the Montreal Canadiens develops was irresistible.
“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.”
Now it’s up to Dach to find that fire that Martin St. Louis found after going undrafted and channeled into a Stanley Cup and a hall of fame career.