A year ago, the Chicago Blackhawks made it clear that Kirby Dach was in the NHL for good.
On the surface, it was a bit puzzling. Dach was playing bottom-six minutes and failed to record a point in an 11-game stretch prior to the start of Canada's selection camp in Oakville, Ont. But at least Stan Bowman and Co. were confident in what they had in Dach, the third-overall pick in 2019, and wanted him focusing on developing against pros.
But nobody could have predicted the impact of COVID-19 and everything we've endured in 2020. Instead of a usual training camp with around 30 players over a couple day span, forty-six players are vying for 25-roster spots in a month-long camp in Red Deer. For Dach, a surprising inclusion at first due to his NHL experience, he has a shot at being Canada's most important player just months after having a dominant performance with the Blackhawks during the Stanley Cup playoffs in August. Yeah, that's still weird to type out after all this time.