CHICAGO -- Kirby Dach is still coming off the whirlwind of the 2019 NHL Draft, when he was chosen by the Chicago Blackhawks with the No. 3 pick in Vancouver on Friday.
Now the 18-year-old forward wants to prove he's ready for the NHL.
"For me, when I get to camp, I'm going to make the decision tough on the management people to send me back [to juniors]," Dach said at United Center on Monday. "I'm going to give them a good reason to keep me here."
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Dach had 73 points (25 goals, 48 assists) in 62 games and eight points (five goals, three assists) in 10 postseason games for Saskatoon, which advanced to the second round of the Western Hockey League playoffs. He was one of five NHL prospects at Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues on June 3, and said he took a lot from the NHL players he met that day.
"Just to see how big and strong they are, and that's one area where I kind of need to add is a little more size," said Dach (6-foot-4, 198 pounds). "The other thing I need to learn is just the pace of play. I don't understand what that's going to be like until I get there and play with those guys and practice with them [at training camp]."
Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said he's looking at the big picture with Dach.
"This year, he could play a big role. I think we'll let that play out," Bowman said. "Part of our job is to project out. When Kirby's established in the League, what do we think he's going to be? We see him as a center who's going to be the guy who can do a little bit of everything.
Video: Dach on excitement, being drafted by Blackhawks
"If you're going to be an elite player in this game, you can't just be an offensive player. You have to be the guy the coach wants to use when you're ahead by a goal and you need to win a face-off and protect the lead. You need to have a guy who can backcheck and do those things, so the other team has their best players on the ice. We eventually want to have Kirby to be able to do that."
Dach also plans to take advice from his teammates, be it captain Jonathan Toews, who the Blackhawks took with the No. 3 pick in the 2006 NHL Draft or forward Dylan Strome, chosen No. 3 by the Arizona Coyotes at the 2015 NHL Draft and traded to Chicago on Nov. 25, 2018.
Whether Dach is a part of the Blackhawks now or later, he's ready for the next step.
"I'm just going to try to be the best me I can possibly be at all times and I'm always trying to learn and improve," Dach said. "There's a group of us who could've gone [at No. 3], and for my name to be called, it's surreal. I want to prove them right, that I was the right choice."
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