(670 The Score) -- On Friday night, Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman made the pick that could define his future in Chicago. With the third overall selection, they chose Saskatoon Blades center Kirby Dach out of the Western Hockey League.
Dach is 6-foot-4, 200 pounds and scored 73 points (25 goals, 48 assists) in 62 games this past season.
Here's the scouting report that I outlined earlier in the week:
PROS: Dach has an NHL-ready body. He would be an immediate asset to a playoff roster and the power play. He's a willing screener, he's tough to move from in front of the net and he has the hand-eye coordination to deflect shots with the best of them. He's a really good skater, despite his size. McKeen's Hockey's draft guide refers to Dach as a "general" on the ice, taking over the game and making everyone around him better. He logs a ton of minutes, and if he maxes out, he could be an ideal top-line center.
CONS: Dach has good speed but doesn't have the first step of many of these other prospects. His consistency has been a bit of a concern, as he's gone through scoring lulls at the WHL level.
HOW HE FITS THE HAWKS: Dach might have the highest ceiling of these centers aside from Alex Turcotte and represents exactly what the Blackhawks need -- a big, physical center whose game translates well to playoff hockey. I do fear he might be a high-risk, high-reward pick, but I'm not sure the Hawks are willing to take that risk.
Moving on to my thoughts...
Do I like this pick? Yes and no.
I would have preferred the Blackhawks draft Vancouver Giants defenseman Bowen Byram, who was taken fourth overall by the Avalanche. Byram has the potential to be the franchise's next Duncan Keith. His mix of skill, vision, size and poise make him a nearly certain No. 1 defenseman. There was also some thought that Dach may have been available lower in the draft and that the Hawks could have traded down. Of course, it takes two teams to make a deal.
That said, the Hawks are filling a huge need in Dach. They're getting a big, strong centerman with elite skill. Just as an organization can never have too many great defensemen, you can never have too many great centers. The trio of Jonathan Toews, Dylan Strome and Kirby Dach for the next three or four years will be impressive. As Toews' decline begins in a couple of years, Dach should be ready to make the jump to No. 1 center.
McKeen's Hockey director of prospect scouting Ryan Wagman believes Dach is the most NHL-ready prospect in this draft aside from No. 1 pick Jack Hughes (Devils) and Kaapo Kakko (Rangers). If that's the case, he could get a look next season and could realistically be expected to contribute full-time two years from now.
I expect the Blackhawks to be busy this weekend, so stay tuned to my Twitter account, 670theScore.com and of course the Madhouse Chicago Hockey Podcast all weekend.
Jay Zawaski is the executive producer of the Bernstein & McKnight Show on 670 middays from 9 a.m. to noon and a columnist for 670 The Score. He's also the co-host of the Madhouse Chicago Hockey Podcast, which is available on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify or your preferred podcast app. Follow him on Twitter @JayZawaski670.