NHL Draft Profile: Kirby Dach

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An elite-level playmaker who has a great sense for the game. Dach is a large center who protects the puck well and handles the puck really well in tight spaces. He skates well for his size but still it is a weakness in the centers game. He sees the ice with outstanding efficiency and does a fantastic job being a facilitator, but has a good scoring touch when needed.

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Name: Kirby Dach

Date of Birth: January 21, 2001

Nationality (Place of Birth): Canadian (St. Albert, AB, Canada)

Hieght: 6’4″

Weight: 198lbs

Shoots: R

Position: C

Rankings

Ranked #4 by TSN/McKenzie

Scouting Report

The above spider graph, courtesy of Kyle Pereira of Puck77, displays the available data from Will Scouch. As shown in the graph, Kirby Dach is one of the most well-rounded player among his peers. While not near the top of any of the categories, his NHL eScore does rate highly because their Dach affects the game in a variety of ways. He relied on the power play a bit more than his peers, but the efficiency in Dach’s game allows for him to produce using a varying skill-set. 

The big center is a decent skater, good enough to not be a large red flag. He has pretty good top-end speed and he is able to change directions fairly well. Dach is able to stay strong on the puck and generally doesn’t get knocked off too easily, but has a tendency to make the few times he’s knocked off memorable by being completely blown up at times because his head is down. Although it doesn’t happen often, it is a minor concern. The real problem with Dach’s skating is his acceleration, which at times seems to take three or four strides to really start to build speed. In the video below, Dach builds speed though the neutral zone. As he enters the offensive zone, he makes a move on the defender to create space before driving to the net. Once he gains ground on the opposing net, get makes a strong okay to keep the puck before scoring the goal. 

Tweet courtesy of @Rontzeeez

Using his strength and balance, Dach has a knack to being able to wait an extra second or two to make the play, allowing for himself and his line mates to get into premier positions. This helps draw in defenders, opening up high-danger chances for his wingers. Dach’s vision of the entire ice allows him to drive deep in the zone and then play the puck back to the point, allowing for the blue-liner to work with some space, either getting the puck back to Dach or another forward in a better scoring position. The St. Albert, Alberta native showed that he can shoot the puck scoring 25 goals as a pass-first center in his age 17 season in the WHL. Throughout the season, Dach’s passing ability opened up scoring chances as the defenders and even goaltenders often cheated to the secondary player, expecting Dach to pass and he did a good job taking advantage of that.

Defensively, the center is good in the faceoff dot and effectively uses his size, although he is likely to never develop into a big hitter. He does a good job at supporting the defence low in the zone and he uses his length to clog up passing lanes. Dach uses his high-IQ 59 make the smart pass and does an adequate job transitioning to offence, although his acceleration has shown to be a bit of a problem if he’s the first pass out of the zone. This often leads to him being the third man into the offensive end, not allowing him to be the primary puck handler and playmaker. He is likely to continue to be a good two-way center at the next level who can be an effective penalty killer and be relied upon in the defensive end of the ice.

Preseason Outlook

Coming into the season as a top-five prospect on many boards, Dach has fallen a bit (top-10) but it was more due to the play of those around him than his own. Dach was coming off a season in which he had 46 points in 52 games in his D-1 year which was fantastic production. Labelled as a pass-only center at the time, he was steadfast in wanting to improve his goal-scoring which he did. Expected to have a monster season, Dach was looked upon as a player who could be chosen early in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft and that hasn’t changed.

Tweet coutesy of @TSN_Sports

He impressed in his time with team Canada at the Hlinka-Gretzky tournament in preseason 2018. In the video above, Dach recognizes that the puck has been held in at the far side of the offensive zone and then moving to the front of the net. There he was able to screen the goaltender and read the shot-pass from Lafreniére and get his stick on the puck in order to redirect it on net for a goal. Canadian head coach André Tourigny had this to say about Dach,

Kirby’s a pass-first guy, but he’s playing really well on the wing … he’s really impressed me with his hockey sense … He’s always played centre, but he’s on the wing and he’s been solid.

Dach showed versatility and drew rave reviews as he was able to display his playmaking as well as a goal-scoring touch with his Canadian teammates.

Hot Start Shows Goal-Scoring Ability

Dach won CHL Player of the Week honours with a strong start to his regular season. With three goals and four assists in the opening two games of the season. After finishing fourth in rookie scoring the year prior, Dach was determined to build off of that. The 6’4″ center came out of the gate strong to start his draft eligible season. He lead the Blades to an 8-4 record over their first 12 games of the season. With 11 goals in his first 19 games, Dach was trusting in his own goal-scoring ability to start the season. In those same 19 games, Dach ranked third in the WHL with 32 points.

Video courtesy of Puck Pordigy Youtube channel

Dach proving that he can put the puck in the net provided the Saskatoon Blades with a player who the offence could truly run through. The play-maker extraordinaire was excellent to start the season. His strong play and leadership on the ice lead to him receiving an “A” on his chest midway through the season. The added responsibility and trust was a product of Dach maturing throughout the season.

Second Half and Brief Playoffs

Although his point production had slowed by mid-December, the high-skill Saskatoon forward had been a force. His 200-foot play was beginning to round into form and he became more responsible as the season wore on. His work ethic improved and his points began to come again in the new year. Dach put together a solid second half of the season.

The Saskatoon Blades center celebrated his birthday with the release of the NHL Central Scouting Rankings, with Dach was rewarded with the position directly behind Hughes. Beginning the new year as the 2nd ranked prospect in North America, Dach felt positive as his draft season was going as planned for the top ranked CHL player at the end of January. With 50 points in 43 games at that point of the season, Dach was impressing teams ahead of his draft year.

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Heading into the playoffs, with 12 points in his final 10 regular season games, Dach was scoring in bunches. He had a 4 assist performance against the Lethbridge Hurricanes and fellow top-10 draft eligible prospect Dylan Cozens. The playoffs were good for Dach, as he finished with 7 points in 10 games, as the Saskatoon Blades were eliminated after a modest playoff run. The interesting part of Dach’s playoffs was that he had five goals, stepping up and adapting his game based on the teams need.

What the Detractors Say

The biggest knocks on Dach are his skating that leaves some to be desired in terms of acceleration and his tendency to float at times and seem disengaged. While the skating issue is often overblown because he makes up for it with being where he needs to be with his high end hockey-IQ, the footing is a concern. It has, at times, led to inconsistency in his game. He can disappear at times on the ice. There have been stretches of play where although he has put up points, he almost seems board or lackadaisical in his play. Assuming this is something that will be fixed with maturity, as many young players go through this, Dach may fall a bit in the draft but shouldn’t take too much of a hit because the skillset is tantalizing.

Kirby Dach will be taken

4th or 5th, maybe 10th or 11th? Dach is a huge question mark as to where he does get picked. It’s probably safe to say that he is going to be picked in the top 10-12 picks. He has a full arsenal of skills and the blend of that skill with his size will have some scouts drooling as they run to the stage to draft the center. His skating and effort at times are still a question as discussed above but the full package is too much to pass up for some team looking for a high end playmaker who will almost assuredly stick at center at the next level. Expect Dach to be chosen early by a team like Los Angeles, Buffalo or Edmonton. If he drops out of the top ten, a team like Minnesota would kill to add him to their system.

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All stats and information provided by Elite Prospects, Dobber Prospects and NHL.com

Author: Tony Ferrari

Born in Ottawa, Ontario and raised in Windsor, Tony has loved hockey his entire life. Growing up as the lone Maple Leafs fan in a household of Red Wings fans, he followed both teams since he was a child. Having been through Toronto’s rebuild as a fan, Tony is ecstatic to be along for the ride and watch the Wings get back to their glory days. Having previously written about the Detroit Lions, Tony looks forward to bringing you content from the hockey world in a series of deep dive articles and analytical points of view that can help you better understand the little things we don’t all notice because they don’t show up on the stats sheet.