2019 NHL Draft Preview: Kirby Dach, WHL Center

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 ongoing 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, after sustaining an injury in Game 5 of the WHL Conference Semifinals he opted to rest and recover instead.

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.

For a deeper dive, some stats and graphs can be found here.

Rankings by Independent Scouting Services

— 10th by the Draft Analyst, who further explained, “Saskatoon’s Kirby Dach is an exceptional set-up man with size who reads plays as well as anyone and competes hard every shift.”

—  3rd in final rantings by McKeen’s Hockey. They simply call him a General on the ice, who possesses great vision and makes his linemates better. His ability to slow the game down while utilizing his rich overall skillset has McKeen’s regarding him as the top forward in this draft class not named Hughes or Kakko.

— 4th by Bob McKenzie’s poll of scouts. Here’s what McKenzie had to say about Dach in his article: “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.”

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

If after reading the above information you’re still wondering why Dach may be a good fit for the Kings, it boils down to two attributes which cannot be taught – size and hockey IQ. The Kings have another top line center in Kopitar, who largely uses his combination of size and smarts to move the puck to teammates. While some people seem to comment Dach is more of a passer, he still nearly quadrupled his goal output this past season. There should be a lot of untapped potential for Dach and he would likely fit in very well for a team planning to be competitive within the next few years.

NOTE: David Hofreiter served as lead contributor in the preparation of this article. You can find him on Twitter @Davidenkness to talk more hockey.

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