December 1, 2022
November is past and the Montreal Canadiens have a record of 11-10-1, an outcome that no one anticipated when the season began. This success has been possible, in part, due to the performance of Kirby Dach.
Dach was acquired on the 2022 draft floor, blowing the minds of fans in attendance. The audience hoped for a trade that would move the Habs into a higher draft position, and they got it. Hughes traded defenceman Alexander Romanov and the 98th pick to the New York Islanders to acquire the 13th pick. But then that pick was dealt along with the 66th pick to land Kirby Dach from the Chicago Blackhawks.
The big centre, drafted third overall by Chicago in 2019, had fallen out of favour in just three years. The rebuilding Blackhawks preferred the 13th pick in the draft over the towering pivot. It was a giant risk for the Habs – what if the management group in Chicago were right to give up on Dach? But Kent Hughes believed in the developmental program he was building, and he believed in who Dach would become within that program.
On October 29th, Dach played his first game on Nick Suzuki’s wing with Cole Caufield, and he hasn’t left that spot since. Since taking over as coach, Martin St. Louis had looked for the perfect complement for Suzuki and Caufield, and one by one guys were tried and released from duty. In Dach, they have added size, defensive conscience and skilled transition to a dynamic duo and it has been working like a charm.
After 22 games, Dach has 4 goals and 13 assists, on pace for 15 goals and 63 points. These statistics reflect a breakout season that vindicates Hughes for his risky trade. That makes Kirby Dach my pick for November’s Mug of the Month.