Is Dylan Strome's transition to wing a long-term move for Blackhawks?


When the Blackhawks drafted Kirby Dach with the No. 3 overall pick, the organization immediately filled a position that was lacking on the depth chart.

But then the question became: How is this going to work in the long term?

Jonathan Toews is still the No. 1 center and has a lot left in the tank. Dylan Strome was acquired in November last season and has turned into a dependable No. 2 center. That means Dach slides in at third-line center, right?

Not exactly.

Dach made his NHL debut last weekend and started out as the second-line center, which was Strome's usual spot. But rather than bumping him to the third line, Strome was moved to the wing, partly because the Blackhawks didn't want to take away his minutes. The other part is the team feels that line of Dach, Strome and Patrick Kane could work in the long run.

But Strome is still adjusting to the switch and it sounds like he's preparing for the possibility of the move lasting more than just a few games.

"It's not something I'm used to, but I'm working on it," Strome said. "I wouldn't say I'm comfortable yet, but I'm trying to get better every day at it. It's something new to me. I think it's a little bit less skating, it's a little bit you gotta hold onto the puck a little bit longer. I'm working on it, I'm trying to get better at it and hopefully I can continue to grow and be a good winger."

The Blackhawks like having versatility among their forward group, but the only way to get both Dach and Strome top-six action is to move one to the wing and Strome is the guy who's making the transition, at least for now, with a healthy lineup.

So even though it may not be permanent, you have to wonder whether Strome's future is at the wing if Dach is kept on the NHL roster for the entire season.

"It's a matter of looking at our centers and who's most comfortable low," Colliton said. "I think Dach can do a really good job for us. Maybe it frees up Stromer to have a little more pressure on the puck up ice, make a few plays. Last year he had a stretch with [Artem] Anisimov where he kind of shared the center role and I thought that helped him at times. It's an option. I think with Dach in there, I liked our center group a bit more."

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