Blackhawks rookie Dach's game keeps growing
Kirby Dach didn't get to choose which team was going to draft him last June or if he was going to stay in the NHL for the duration of this season.
The Blackhawks made those calls, both of which are looking awfully good right now.
But Dach did make one request that seems to have greatly accelerated his growth.
And that was to ask defenseman Brent Seabrook if, hey, would it be OK if I live with you, your wife, your three kids and your three dogs?
Seabrook said yes, and the No. 3 overall pick of the 2019 draft moved into the basement to begin his NHL apprenticeship.
"Feels like home to me," said Dach, whose living quarters are in the basement. "I spend a lot of time with him and his family upstairs just hanging out. It's been good. A lot of fun."
It's also had an effect on Dach's growth because -- although Seabrook hasn't played since December -- the 34-year-old veteran is still bestowing words of wisdom on his young teammate.
These little chats take place at the United Center, in the car on the way to and from games and at Seabrooks' house.
"When he sees things throughout the game, he's got a different viewpoint than I do -- (he sees it) from a defenseman's perspective," said Dach, who has 7 goals and 10 assists in 49 games. "We kind of just talk about the overall game and see how things can change or where (I) need to improve. ...
"He's such a veteran and understands the league and takes care of the young guys. He's been awesome for me."
Which is pretty much how you can describe Dach's game before the Hawks began their five-game road trip in Winnipeg on Sunday. Before that contest, which saw Dach's five-game point streak come to an end during a 5-2 loss, it was impressive to see how the 19-year-old has taken his game to a completely different level.
What stands out most is how Dach's confidence is growing with the puck.
Against Minnesota on Tuesday, he put an open-ice move on Jonas Brodin that utterly bewildered the veteran D-man of 541 games. A flailing, falling Brodin watched helplessly as Dach motored directly to the net, where he ultimately failed to finish things off against goalie Alex Stalock.
Then against Boston the next night, Dach stripped Chris Wagner of the puck in the neutral zone with 5:25 remaining and raced the other way on a breakaway. He failed to convert, but it was a heckuva one-man effort to set up the chance in the first place.
Dach also used his big frame against the Bruins during a second-period power play to put 2 quick shots on net. The second bounced to Alex DeBrincat, who buried it for the Hawks' only goal of the game.
"He's using his speed, but he's stronger and stronger on the puck, winning those battles," Jonathan Toews said. "When he's just staying in that puck area, having that strong stick, he's making things happen and it's really good to see.
"The stronger he gets, the more and more he's going to create for us."
Dach said things are coming a bit easier now than they were at the beginning of the season.
"I think that comes with time and maturing with the game," Dach said. "There's a lot of older guys in this locker room that have ... gone through the whole rookie process.
"It's good for me to learn from those guys and take advice from them."
Two of those guys are Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad, whom coach Jeremy Colliton placed on a line with Dach when the Hawks returned from their off week in Arizona. Centering two veterans with 544 goals and 798 assists between them is certainly a tall order, but Colliton believes his 6-foot-4 rookie is up to the task.
So much so that Dach is earning more ice time and more trust from his second-year coach.
"He's really helping our team and there's more there," Colliton said "He's close to (scoring more); you know he creates a lot. He just hasn't been able to finish. ...
"But for me it's more his two-way game just adds some depth to our team, and I know he's gonna keep getting better."
Scouting reportScouting report
Blackhawks vs. Edmonton Oilers, 8 p.m. Tuesday at Rogers Place
TV: NBC Sports Chicago • Radio: WGN 720-AM
The skinny: It's been an odd season for Edmonton. After charging out of the gate 7-1-0, the Oilers went 14-16-5 in their next 35 games. Since then, though, coach Dave Tippett's squad has gone 8-3-1 and is in second place in the tight Pacific Division. ... Leon Draisaitl, who scored 50 times last season, leads the league with 85 points. He scored twice in the Oilers' 3-2 comeback victory over Nashville Saturday to increase his goal total to 31. It was his eighth multi-goal game. Connor McDavid (30G, 51A) needs just 19 points to register his fourth straight 100-point season. ... The Oilers have been splitting the goaltending duties, but 37-year-old Mike Smith is 7-0-1 with a .919 save percentage and 2.59 goals against average in his last eight games. ... Edmonton has allowed just 1 power-play goal in the last six contests. ... The Hawks defeated the Oilers 3-1 at the United Center Oct. 14.
Next: Vancouver Canucks, 9:30 p.m. Wednesday at Rogers Arena
-- John Dietz