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After struggling with Chicago, the change of scenery worked rather well for Kirby Dach last season as he was able to secure a big role in Montreal’s offence.  What might he have in store for his second year with the Canadiens?


While Dach is a natural centre, the Habs utilized him a lot on the wing.  That allowed them to ease in when it came to learning their offensive strategies while attempting to mitigate his struggles at the faceoff dot.  He got off to a bit of a slow start, scoring just once in the opening month but he chipped in a handful of assists, doing enough to earn him a longer look in the top six.

Eventually, Martin St. Louis opted to move Dach onto the right side of the top line.  The goal production still wasn’t there too often but once again, he was helping to set up goals while being a strong complementary player on that line.  Dach wasn’t the prototypical power forward like Josh Anderson but his size and ability to win puck battles on the boards certainly was beneficial for Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield.

When Sean Monahan went down with his eventual season-ending injury, Dach was moved to his natural position.  It resulted in a drop in playing time but after a few games, he showed that he could more than hold his own down the middle, his faceoff struggles notwithstanding.  He scored six goals in January, his best month of the year on that front with the bulk of that action coming at centre.

Unfortunately, the injury bug caught up with him in February as a lower-body injury kept him out for 16 games.  Then, just four games into his return, Dach suffered an upper-body issue that ended his season prematurely.

From a special teams perspective, Dach actually led all Montreal players in ATOI on the power play (yes, even ahead of Caufield and Suzuki) last season.  He provided a decent return on that usage, finishing one goal shy of the team lead for goals with the man advantage and tying for the lead in assists.  Dach didn’t see much time on the penalty kill which shouldn’t come as much surprise given his role.

Stats: 58 GP, 14-24-38, -2, 43 PIMS, 6 PPG, 2 GWG, 107 shots, 38.3% faceoffs, 18:30 ATOI

4 Year Averages

(The stats for 2019-20 and 2020-21 have been extrapolated to an 82-game rate.)

GP: 57
Goals: 9
Assists: 17
Points: 27
+/-: -6
PIMS: 30
PPG: 2
GWG: 1
Shots: 95

2023-24 Role

There’s a good chance that Dach’s role this coming season will resemble the one he had a year ago.  While they’d probably like to keep him down the middle, the return of Sean Monahan makes that a bit tougher.  It’s possible the two are on the same trio (allowing Monahan to handle most of the faceoffs) but it’s hard to see that lasting the whole season (and not just because of injuries).  As things stand, there is no standout candidate to play alongside Caufield and Suzuki on the top line and if it’s going to be a rotating cast of players, it stands to reason that Dach will be one of the first options that gets tried.

As for special teams, Dach seems likely to stay on that top unit if for no other reason than he was actually relatively productive a year ago on the man advantage.  They could drop him back to the second group to try to balance things out but given his chemistry with Caufield and Suzuki, keeping him with them does make some sense.  As for the penalty kill, he did see time in that situation with Chicago but saw limited time last season.  With the lack of turnover and an increased willingness to try Michael Pezzetta in that situation down the stretch last season, I expect Dach’s playing time shorthanded is going to be limited once again.  He does have it in him to kill penalties though and from a development perspective, I’d like to see him get a chance for at least third-unit minutes for a little while.

Projected Stats

Dach produced at a 54-point pace last season when he was in the lineup which isn’t too shabby at all.  However, it’s far from a guarantee that this will be his first 50-point campaign simply because of his penchant for injuries.  This isn’t just a one-time blip but a problem he has dealt with in each of his four NHL campaigns.  It’s also worth noting that his shooting percentage was considerably higher than his career average which could be a small red flag although it could also be attributed to him simply improving.

On my own board, I’d be slotting Dach in around the 45-50-point mark with an expectation that he will miss at least a few weeks due to an injury.  What hurts him from a fantasy perspective is that he isn’t a volume shooter nor does he contribute many hits, stats that can help differentiate someone in a group of many similar players.  In leagues that count faceoffs, Dach needs to be lowered toward the bottom of that tier.  If you think that Dach could be the longer-term fit on the top line, he could be an upside selection, especially with the hopes that a full season from Caufield could really give that number one trio a boost.  He’s a more important piece to the actual team than a fantasy one but Dach should still be selected in most formats except for very shallow leagues.

GP: 71
Goals: 15
Assists: 33
Points: 48
+/-: -6
PIMS: 48
PPG: 5
GWG: 2
Shots: 135

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