What Blackhawks options are with Kirby Dach after assignment to Rockford for conditioning stint

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The Blackhawks announced Saturday that they have activated Kirby Dach from his injured/non-roster designation and assigned him to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League for a conditioning stint.

Dach is not eligible to play in the AHL full-time this season, but the Collective Bargaining Agreement says he can spend up to 14 days with the minor league club for conditioning purposes. The IceHogs have five games over that span, so that's maximum amount of games he can play in. He made his debut on Saturday against Grand Rapids and was held off the scoresheet.

Dach, who was drafted No. 3 overall in June, was in concussion protocol for the majority of training camp after suffering the injury in the 2019 Traverse City Prospect Tournament finale on Sept. 10. He's been practicing with the team for several weeks now, but the Blackhawks have indicated the final hurdle is getting him up to game speed as he prepares to make his NHL debut, although it's still unclear what the plan is for him this season.

The Blackhawks can give Dach a tryout of up to nine NHL games before deciding whether they want to keep him on the roster beyond that, which would result in burning the first year of his entry-level contract, or send him back to the Saskatoon Blades in the Western Hockey League. Playing in AHL games does not count towards his potential tryout.

It's possible the Blackhawks come to a decision after his 14 days in Rockford, if he stays the full length and plays in all five games. Time will tell, and Dach's performance may dictate his immediate future. But unless they feel like he's really behind the eight ball, it seems like the Blackhawks are committed to at least giving Dach a taste at the NHL level.

"He hasn't played in a long time," coach Jeremy Colliton said after Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets. "Missed training camp, missed the exhibition season. We think he can help us so we're trying to set him up, give him the best opportunity so when he does get the chance here he'll be as ready as he can be. It's a good league down there and a chance for him to get his feet wet against men. And I think he's been getting better and better in his practice time here with us. So I'm excited. Hopefully, he can gain confidence down there and then be ready to help us."

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