2018-19 Team: Saskatoon Blades (#77)
Date of Birth: January 21, 2001
Place of Birth: St. Albert, Alberta
Ht: 6-foot-4 Wt: 198 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2019 first-year eligible
- The Hockey Writers (Pike’s Picks): 4th (final)
- Future Considerations: 6th (Spring)
- ISS: 7th (April)
- Bob McKenzie: 4th (April; draft lottery update)
- Craig Button: 15th (March)
The 2019 NHL Draft class is highlighted by Jack Hughes, Kaapo Kakko and Bowen Byram at the top end, but they’re followed by several interesting forward options. Saskatoon Blades forward Kirby Dach is one of a handful of players that are vying for the fourth overall slot.
Dach has a lot of attributes that make scouts excited about his professional prospects. He’s a big-bodied right shot centre, something that’s akin to finding a unicorn in the modern game. He arguably doesn’t have any elite-level attributes aside from perhaps his hockey sense, but he’s strong in virtually every area and doesn’t have any hole in his game. He’s a pretty complete player at a very young age.
Related: Our Free NHL Draft Guide
Compared to some of the other high-end forwards available in the first round, Dach’s offensive numbers are strong but not amazing – he finished 30th in the Western Hockey League in overall scoring and was third among his age group in even strength scoring, trailing Lethbridge’s Dylan Cozens and Moose Jaw’s Brayden Tracey. The impressive thing about Dach is that he was able to consistently produce on a fairly shallow Saskatoon squad – he had to carry the mail in every game situation and found a way to perform at a high level without a ton of help.
Dach’s game might not be as sexy as Cozens or Peyton Krebs. While he has a pretty high developmental floor, he might not have the same dazzlingly high offensive ceilings as those other players. But he’s a composed, balanced, highly-intelligent 200-foot hockey player. At the very least, he seems like a safe bet to become a strong two-way NHL pivot – and if he can add some dynamism to his offense, perhaps he could be even more.
Kirby Dach – NHL Draft Projection
Dach is part of a group of five or six players – along with Cozens, Krebs, Vasili Podkolzin, Cole Caufield, Alex Turcotte and Trevor Zegras – that could go as early as fourth overall, depending on how the draft lottery shakes out. He’s unlikely to fall past sixth or seventh overall, though.
“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.” – Bob McKenzie, TSN
“Dach has been the most intriguing prospect for me to watch as the season unfolded. He started on the wing at the Hlinka/Gretzky this year and showed some added versatility ending up fourth in points in the entire tournament for Team Canada. He was a dominant retrieval guy on the forecheck and forced opposing defenders to rush plays and make mistakes. Either by chasing them down with his speed, or by physically putting them into the wall, Dach was able to make opponents feel duress. It added a side to his game that wasn’t there as a 16-year-old in the WHL. Against his peers he was physically able to overmatch them.” – Vince Gibbons, McKeen’s Hockey
- Strong hockey sense, anticipates plays and coverage well.
- Good passer, particularly on the power play where he has more time to allow lanes to develop.
- Good mobility for a bigger player.
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Needs to add a big of meanness to his game to really utilize his size at the pro level.
- Needs to be more effective at winning face-offs.
- Dach is a strong all-around player, but developing a strength area or specialty would help him get to the next level as a pro.
Other 2019 NHL Draft Profiles
Dach projects as a high-end two way centre at the NHL level. He’s likely to become at least a strong number two centre on most teams, with the potential to push for first line minutes. Stylistically, he resembles Joe Nieuwendyk or Ryan Johansen in terms of his poise, balance and ranginess.
Risk – 1/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense 8/10, Defense 8/10
Dach has represented Canada at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. He captured gold at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
Ryan Pike has covered the Calgary Flames and the NHL Draft extensively since 2010 as a Senior Writer for The Hockey Writers and Senior Contributing Editor of FlamesNation.ca. A member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, he lives in Calgary.