In today’s NHL, what’s more valuable than a big center who moves well and plays with skill? Teams that have one generally don’t let them go. Teams that want one almost never have the opportunity to get one unless they draft one. To that end, I suspect Kirby Dach, a 6’4” center with skill and smooth skating, will likely go in the upper half of the NHL draft.
2019 NHL Draft Profile: Kirby Dach
Position/team: C/Saskatoon Blades WHL
2018-19 Statistics: 25G - 48A - 73PTS - 62GP
Size: 6’4” 198lbs
No. 3 (North American skaters) NHL Central Scouting
No. 7 Future Considerations
No. 11 ISS Hockey
No. 10 Pronman/The Athletic
What’s there to like?
If Dach were just a smooth skating center, who had adequate defensive sense and a decent draft year, he’d still be a potential first round pick, but his offensive ability sets him apart. Dach’s skating, hands, puck protection skills, and ability to create offense have most scouts and NHL teams projecting him to be a top line center at the next level.
Dach is polished. When he’s engaged and on the prowl, he’s a player who can draw comparisons to a young Ryan Getzlaf. Like Getzlaf, Dach has a power game, but also has high end vision and the hockey sense to open up lanes for other players. An accurate wrist shot allows him to score from the outside and the willingness to go to the net and play in traffic also makes him dangerous in front.
Kirby Dach is the total package and though he’s already significantly more developed than many of his peers, it’s likely he will play well over his current weight at the next level. With all the tools he possesses and the potential to eventually play a heavier game at one of the NHL’s most coveted positions, it’s likely Dach will be a major part of some lucky team’s plan to run to the cup.
What’s not to like?
In many of my viewings of Dach the most consistent issue seemed to be engagement. At times Dach seemed to lack the desire to push the pace, even though he has the tools and the skating skill to do so. Are the concerns of consistency valid? At times, yes, but I also found that in some cases Dach’s smooth, longer, stride, simply make him look like he’s not working as hard as other players.
Dach could also stand to be more physical for his size. Again, is this concern a significant issue? Probably not. It’s likely as Dach grows into his frame his physical game will improve and grow with him. However, Dach won’t be immune to the lessons that are often learned by young players entering the NHL. Dach is an excellent player with a great deal of potential and all the tools to succeed, but he will have to work on his consistency in order to latch onto a number one center job at the NHL level.
How would he fit in the Flyers’ system?
The Philadelphia Flyers system is already fairly well stocked with young forwards and even boasts some solid options at center. Morgan Frost is on his way to the AHL after torching the OHL for several years. German Rubtsov had a bounce back year in the AHL, before a mid-season injury derailed his season and Nolan Patrick is already in the NHL. That said, one could argue that Dach has as much potential as any of the above mentioned centers, if not more.
Could the Flyers actually get him?
And this is where things get really interesting. After picks one and two, the Flyers will sit at 11th overall, right on the edge of a group of prospects that are largely interchangeable. Alex Turcotte, Dylan Cozens, Peyton Krebs, Trevor Zegras and Kirby Dach are all listed as centers and all seem likely to go in the upper half of the draft. Even a center like Alex Newhook, could slip into that group if there’s a run on centers at the top of the draft.
Though there’s likely to be a premium put on centers, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario where Dach could fall far enough for the Flyers to make a move to get him. Could he drop all the way to 11th overall? Possibly. It’s all about preference and while Kirby Dach has all the traits that make NHL GMs drool, the NHL draft is an unpredictable thing.