Colton Dach Is Finally Healthy, and That Means He’s Dangerous
Last summer, when the Blackhawks’ new crop of young prospects arrived at development camp, one player everyone wanted to watch and talk to was Colton Dach. And, frankly, it was for all the wrong reasons.
Kirby’s younger brother reported to development camp just days after his older sibling was traded to Montreal. Fans and media alike wanted to see if he would pout or not be thrilled to be a Blackhawk. Questions in his first open dressing rooms were almost all about “Are you happy to be here?” and “What does this mean for your future?”
To his credit, Colton answered the questions as best he could. Obviously, the emotions were still pretty raw for the family after Kirby’s first three years were far from what pretty much everyone had hoped or expected. But Colton is not his brother. (Well, he is his brother. I’m saying he’s not the same person. It’s rhetoric). And this Blackhawks front office is not its predecessor.
Kirby was the third overall pick in his draft; Colton fell to the Blackhawks at the 62nd overall selection in 2021. Somewhat surprisingly, the Blackhawks signed Colton in October of his draft year. But, looking back at how that regime did business, the idea of rushing another potential power forward to the professional ranks isn’t a surprise.
When the younger Dach was traded from Saskatoon to Kelowna for his post-draft season and he was good. Colton scored 29 goals and piled up 79 points in 61 games. Coming back for the following season after an NHL prospect camp and training camp, the hope was that he would take another big step forward.
Colton looked really good this summer. His physicality was obvious. His size was unavoidable. And his skill was undeniable.
But his season got off to a tough start. He scored on the first shift of the first game against Minnesota’s prospects in the Prospect Showcase games in September, but disappeared from the bench soon after, suffering a concussion that sidelined him for most of the preseason.
When he got into preseason action with the Blackhawks against NHL players, he looked comfortable. His size didn’t disappear against older players. He knew how to use his body well and his skill still showed well. Colton had developed well in a year at Kelowna, and it was showing.
The Blackhawks sent him back to juniors, where he was named the captain of the Rockets. But a second concussion slowed his start to the season. Still, he scored nine goals and produced 17 points in 14 games through the injuries.
Colton made Canada’s roster for the winter edition of the World Juniors and was playing well again in a supporting role. He had two assists in three games before a shoulder injury ended his tournament and put the rest of his regular season in question.
Still, his rights were dealt to Seattle, where he would join fellow Blackhawks prospects Kevin Korchinski and Nolan Allan on a really good team — if he was healthy enough to play.
When he was healthy enough to skate, Colton was a productive player for Seattle. He stayed at a point-per-game pace, putting up three goals and seven assists in nine regular season games. But, most importantly, he finished the regular season in a place physically where he would be able to help the Thunderbirds in the playoffs.
And he’s done precisely that. Colton two goals (see below) and seven assists for nine points in eight playoff games for Seattle. They’re rolling in the WHL, and his ability has started to show out nightly again.
When you look around the Blackhawks’ top forward prospects, one of the things that stands out already since the new front office group has taken over is the commitment to making the Blackhawks a faster organization. Colton can move, which is great. He also has size (6-4, 200) that no other forward in the system can match. The combination of size and skill makes in an increasingly attractive player in the future plans of the Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks didn’t do much right in Kirby’s development. But the patience being displayed by the new group should give us some confidence that Colton, when healthy, will get every chance to reach the NHL at an appropriate pace and could be a big player for Chicago in the coming years.