The Blackhawks recalled No. 3 overall pick Kirby Dach from his AHL conditioning stint on Friday night after he appeared in three games with the Rockford IceHogs. He missed the first week of training camp with a concussion and the organization wanted him to get a taste of the pro action and back up to speed after not playing in any preseason games, either.
"I enjoyed the experience there," Dach said. "I had a lot of fun. Got to see a couple buddies. It was good for me to get down there and get some pro games under my belt and just feel what the pace is going to be like. It'll be another step up here, but I feel good and I feel like I'm ready to go."
Whether Dach makes his NHL debut on Sunday against the Washington Capitals won't be revealed by head coach Jeremy Colliton until after morning skate on Sunday. But where does he fit into the lineup going forward?
The Blackhawks are 2-0-1 in their past three games and aren't necessarily looking to shake up their rotation, even though they're still searching for consistency on all four lines.
The easy answer is for Dach to slide into a third-line center role behind Jonathan Toews and Dylan Strome, but the trio of David Kampf, Dominik Kubalik and Brandon Saad has undoubtedly been the most consistent for the Blackhawks this season. And we saw in the home opener what happened when they were separated.
The Blackhawks held an optional practice on Saturday morning and didn't run through line rushes, but before Dach was assigned to Rockford, he took several spins on the first line with Toews and alternated with Drake Caggiula and Alex DeBrincat. It's possible Dach starts on the wing, where he can play top-six minutes and not have as much responsibility as a center would.
"I've played wing in previous years, so it's not something that's new to me," Dach said. "At the same time I'm open-minded to just getting into the lineup and helping the team win."
The Blackhawks can give Dach up to nine NHL games before deciding whether they want to burn the first year of his entry-level contract or send him back to the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL.
"As a kid you always grow up dreaming of playing in the NHL, so there'll be nerves," Dach said. "But there will also be a lot of excitement. I've just got to do my best to focus on my game and be ready to play whenever my name's called upon by the coaching staff."