After passing on Shane Wright with the top pick, the Habs struck a move to acquire a young centre, acquiring Kirby Dach from Chicago in a three-team trade. The deal breaks down as follows:
Trade 1: Alexander Romanov and pick #98 to the Islanders for the 13th pick.
Trade 2: The 13th pick to Chicago and pick #66 for Kirby Dach.
Dach was the third-overall pick of the Blackhawks back in 2019 and made the jump to the NHL right away. At 6’4, he has the size to be an impact player down the middle but he hasn’t been able to translate it into much NHL success just yet. This past season, the 21-year-old had nine goals and 17 assists in 70 games (18:04 ATOI) with the Blackhawks while winning just 32.8% of his faceoffs. For his career, he has 19 goals and 40 assists in 152 games. Clearly, GM Kent Hughes believes Dach has another gear to get to.
Dach will be a restricted free agent next week but will not have salary arbitration eligibility. Worth noting is that due to injuries, Dach only played 18 games in 2020-21 which meant he did not reach the 40 games on the roster needed to accrue a season of service time. This means that he has five years of team control remaining before he becomes UFA-eligible. A bridge deal for Dach is quite likely and it’s possible that he could get a three-year bridge contract and then still have two years of team control remaining. By that time, the Canadiens will have a better sense of whether or not he can become a true second-line centre behind Nick Suzuki.
As for Romanov, Montreal fans are quite familiar with what he brings to the table. While he didn’t bring a lot to the table offensively, he was an imposing physical presence on the back end and took some strides in his defensive game in 2021-22. The 22-year-old had 13 points along with 144 blocks and 227 hits this past season while logging just over 20 minutes a game on the back end. Romanov will also be a restricted free agent next week.
The Canadiens’ prospect pool is strong on the left side of the back end with Kaiden Guhle, Jordan Harris, Jayden Struble, Mattias Norlinder, Arber Xhekaj, and Gianni Fairbrother among those in the system. Chances are they’ll add to that in the draft as well. Hughes is clearly of the mindset that some of those players will pan out, allowing them to deal a quality young player in Romanov (plus a pair of draft picks) to add a young centre that they hope will fill a key role with the Habs for years to come.