NHL 2019 Draft Preview: Center Kirby Dach

Although we usually begin rolling out our pre-Draft coverage in early June, there has been a clamoring for information this season — likely due to the Kings having the No. 5 pick in the first round — so we’re getting started a little earlier this time around. In what will serve as the first in a series of articles, we present a plethora of information below to help our readers get to know Kirby Dach, one of the top forwards expected to be selected next month.

Be advised, our articles are not publishing in any particular order; they’re simply meant to serve as a springboard to an on going conversation about a dozen or so prospects that will be scooped up by NHL teams after Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko go No. 1 and 2.

As of this writing, the last major event left to take place for most scouts is the completion of the WHL, OHL, and QMJHL championships – followed by the Memorial Cup. There is also the NHL Draft Combine, in which physical measurements and athletic metrics are acquired from the players invited by Central Scouting; teams will also have a chance to interview with the prospects of their choice. Over the next 3-5 weeks, most NHL teams will also host a set of final meetings with their amateur scouting staffs, with an end-goal of establishing their definitive draft lists and to formulate a plan of how they will approach the two-day Draft in late June.

We speculated briefly here on a potential strategy by the Kings.

Since there is a lot of fluidity in this draft class after the top two selections, there are several players from No. 3 on through to the mid-teens who are closely ranked together.

Let’s begin our look at someone who may be in the Kings’ sights for the 2019 NHL Entry Draft:

KIRBY DACH

Vitals

Date of Birth: January 21, 2001
Height: 6’4
Weight: 197 lbs
Shoots: Right
Position: Center

2018-19 Season

Dach spent his entire 18/19 WHL season on the Saskatoon Blades, where he scored 73 points (25 G, 48 A) in 62 games – good for second overall on his team. He also had eight points (5 G, 3 A) in 10 playoff games, third most on his team. While representing Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, Dach notched seven points (2 G, 5 A) in five games, helping Canada secure a gold medal.

Blades Alumni

Nikita Scherbak played on the Blades in his 2013/14 season. Former Kings fifth overall pick of 2009, Brayden Schenn also played a portion of a season with them. Most notably, it’s the alumni of new Kings head coach Todd McLellan, who played for the Saskatoon Blades from 1983 – 1987.

Won’t Come Out to Play

After Saskatoon was eliminated in the second round, Dach was invited to play on Canada’s U-18 team. However, he sustained an injury in Game 5 of the Conference Semifinals and opted to recover (Two Saskatoon Blades get Hockey Canada U18 invites; Nolan Maier accepts, Kirby Dach declines due to injury)

By The Numbers

In the previous season, he scored 46 points (7 G, 39 A). It took him only 39 games to meet that total this year. His longest streak in the season was eight games, in which he scored 15 points (4 G, 11 A). His longest scoring drought of the season was seven games.

Some Metrics

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Source: https://public.tableau.com/profile/scouching#!/vizhome/shared/478Z75TY7

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Source: Kirby Dach – Prospect-Stats

Rankings by Independent Scouting Services

******** DAVID – there are too many here… is there any way to get this list to FIVE …. let’s talk

o Third among North American Skaters by Central Scouting

o Fifth by Prospect Pipeline

o Tenth by The Draft Analyst

o Third by McKeen’s Hockey

o Seventh by ISS Hockey

o 15th by Craig Button

o Ninth by Sam Cosentino of Sportsnet (https://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/juniors/sportsnets-2019-nhl-draft-prospect-rankings-march/)

o Sixth by Future Considerations (https://futureconsiderations.ca/top-rankings-2019/)

o Seventh by Hockey Prospect (https://www.hockeyprospect.com/2019-nhl-draft-rankings/)

o Fourth by Bob McKenzie’s poll of scouts

What They’re Saying

“He’s capable of scoring goals, but his natural inclination is to pass. He is viewed as having elite skill level. While Dach has the size NHL scouts covet, he’s not blazing fast, though no one is suggesting his skating is a notable liability and his blend of size and skill is what separates him.

Eight of 10 scouts surveyed by TSN had Dach in their Top 5.”

https://www.tsn.ca/it-s-still-the-jack-hughes-draft-1.1246625

“Dach is close to being NHL ready but might be best off with one more year of junior hockey. There are some improvements that can still be made in terms of adding muscle to his frame, cleaning up his first step and acceleration, and continuing to have confidence in his shot. Those flaws are minor though and should easily be fixed as he matures. Dach could grow to become a top-line NHL centre. His game is reminiscent of Ryan Getzlaf but this is a style comparison only and not one based on talent.”

FROM Last Word on Hockey report

“Blades head coach Mitch Love says it’s been ‘a treat’ to have Dach on his squad and to work with such a high-quality athlete. At the same time, Love added, as a teammate ‘he drives the competition here at practice and guys play up to that.

‘The most intriguing part for me, and working with Kirby, is just how competitive he is. He’s a bit of a cerebral player in terms of the way he plays the game, but he’s a student of the game, he’s got a high hockey IQ. His skill-set, in terms of his puck skills, his stick and everything, is tremendous.

‘But I think the biggest thing I’ve noticed all year long is just how complete of a player he’s becoming, which is never easy for a young man. I think everybody understands what his offensive abilities are, but his ability to play a 200-foot is so important, not only at this level but definitely at the next level in becoming a real good NHL player.’”

Blue-chip NHL prospect Kirby Dach providing big measuring stick for parade of scouts

See For Yourself

Here’s a highlight reel of Dach’s 2018/19 season. While highlights should not set the expectation of what you would see from a player on a regular basis, it does show his variety of skills.

Final Comments

After reviewing this, you may be wondering why he’s a good fit for the Kings? He has two attributes which cannot be taught – size and hockey IQ. The Kings have another top line center in Kopitar, who uses his combination of size and smarts to move the puck to teammates. He also simply is commended for having a good collection of tools. While people seem to comment he is more of a passer, he still nearly quadrupled his goal output one season later. There is a lot of untapped potential for Dach. He would fit in very well for a team planning to be competitive within the next few years.

NOTE: David Hofreiter was the lead contributor in the gathering of information used in this article.

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