San Jose Sharks

San Jose Sharks Current Situation Before 2019 Draft

The San Jose Sharks are in an interesting situation entering the 2019 Draft, having no first round picks and limited salary cap space after signing Erik Karlsson to an eight year contract worth $92 million.

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Erik Karlsson‘s AAV will be $11.5 per season and will not be an UFA until 2027. This was great news for Sharks fans until we see what is left to spend on San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski. The Sharks will still look to keep their core intact, but may have to let Pavelski go. Let’s take a deeper look into the Sharks current situation.

Captain Pavelski Walks

Signing Erik Karlsson was huge and puts the Sharks in a weird place considering their captain Joe Pavelski will be needing a contract as well. Since the Sharks and Pavelski already had a hometown deal on his last contract, I do not see that happening again, which lies the problem. Pavelski will be 35 years old by next season and is still in position to receive a large contract somewhere around $7 mil/per. Having signed Karlsson, I do not see the Sharks retaining the captain Pavelski as it does not make financial sense. The Sharks must also sign Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc who are young and the future of this team along with Tomas Hertl. Meier and Labanc’s contracts could be around 9 million combined, (Meier 5yrs/$5.75) (Labanc 3yrs/$3.25) that leaves approximately 7 million to sign Joe Thornton and fill in the gaps.

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Keep Thornton

Joe Thornton is not going anywhere and will sign a team friendly contract, he does not want to play anywhere else and has made over $100 million in his career. The players that remain to be signed that would have smaller contracts would be Antti Suomela, Dylan Gambrell and Joonas Donskoi. All three can contribute and the three would total around $4 million. Leaving enough money to keep Joakim Ryan, rather than Tim Heed. The only player out of a starter that could essential walk besides Pavelski would be Gustav Nyquist, I do not think they have the money to retain him.

So with that said, the Sharks team looks something like this next season.

Forwards

Kane – Couture – Meier
Labanc – Hertl – Donskoi
Sorenson – Thornton – Suomela
Radil – Goodrow/Gambrell – Melker Karlsson

Defensemen

Vlasic — Erik Karlsson
Simek — Burns
Dillon — Ryan
Middleton

Goaltenders

Jones
Dell

On the Future

My opinion on the Sharks retaining Erik Karlsson is that they made the right move. If in turn that means letting Pavelski go, then that is the cost of keeping one of the best offensive defensemen in San Jose. The Sharks would obviously like to keep their 13 year veteran captain Pavelski on the roster, but having $65 million tied up already probably means it cannot happen. Pavelski will have one more monster contract in his career and this is his chance. The Sharks will be fine offensively and will give the younger guys, Hertl, Meier and Labanc even more room to make noise. Logan Couture would most likely fill the void at captain and continue his epic career as a Shark.

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I also think the Sharks will be fine with no first round draft pick this year as they added a second rounder in 2019 and a third round pick in 2020 by trading Justin Braun to the Philadelphia Flyers. That trade frees up $3.8 million in cap space and recoups some of the draft picks lost with the Erik Karlsson deal with the Ottawa Senators. The Sharks GM Doug Wilson is a master at late round draft picks, but the Sharks time is now. The Sharks seemed poised to make another cup run next season and with the re-signing of EK65, up and coming youngsters the future is bright! Chomp chomp!!!

You can follow me on Twitter at @jmargo23

All stats and information courtesy of Hockey Reference, Cap Friendly and the NHL.

 

 

Puck77

Top 10 Bounce Back Candidates for the 2019/20 NHL Season

Which players in line for a bounce back season?

Every season there is always a couple great players that have a bad season where you go, “What Happened??” (Looks at the career of Scott Gomez and cringes).

Now sometimes it is because of injury, some because of going to a new team and some just get old. Point is these players can’t always have perfect seasons unless you’re Nicklas Lidstrom and your nickname is the “Perfect Human.” So I am here today to give these players and you some optimism for some players that I think can have a bounce-back season!

For this list, I won’t be including Rookies, because they have just one season on record, or players over 35 because of the likelihood they bounce back is very low. Also will not include goalers because guessing what goalie is going to be “good and bad” from season to season is like trying to find Brad Marchand‘s tears on the ice after game 7. (Too soon?) Anyway let’s get into it

10. Ondrej Palat (28 y/o)

2018/19 Stats – 64 Games Played, 8 Goals, 26 Assists, 34 points, +4

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Remember the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2015 when they had that cute triplet line of Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat? It looked like all three would be the new cornerstones of the team. Since then the Lightning has seen Kucherov become a perennial candidate for the Art Ross Trophy, Johnson hasn’t had over 50 points since that 2015 season and Ondrej Palat just hasn’t been healthy. Over the last 3 seasons Palat has only played 195 possible games out of 246 and prior to that hasn’t played a”full season” since the 16/17 season when he only missed 7 games. I am choosing him as a bounce-back candidate because the Lightning are going to need him to step up with the possible shedding of players following the rapture that was the sweep in this year’s playoffs and the likelihood of Brayden Point sitting out looming because of a contract dispute. Palat will get every chance on Tampa to get back over 60 points only if he stays healthy.

9. Derick Brassard (31 y/o)

2018/19 Stats – 70 Games played, 14 G, 9 Assists, 23 Points, -19

When you get traded 2 times during one season usually that isn’t a good sign. A decent 3rd/ 2nd line center that can get you 40-50 points regularly Brassard had a rough time last year getting traded twice from the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Florida Panthers after only getting 15 points up to the trade, then finished his season with the Colorado Avalanche with a combined 8 points during his time with the Panthers and the Avs’. So safe to say he had a rough year. As a UFA this summer he could end up being a great addition for a team looking for center depth and could surprise a lot of people after what was one of the worst seasons of his career.

8. Ryan Getzlaf (34 y/o)

2018/19 Stats – 67 Games Played, 14 Goals, 34 Assists, 48 Points, -19

With only playing 67 games and 56 the season prior, combined with the team around him eroding quickly, the Anaheim Ducks Captain has been under some tough times. Being very close to my age cut off for players it made choosing Getzlaf a somewhat difficult choice but seeing now that he has a new head coach and a whole summer for him and his teammates to get healthy (The Ducks only had one player play the full 82 games last season) this could be a season that sees not only Getzlaf get high point totals but the Ducks team as a whole could rebound.

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7. Rickard Rakell (26 y/o)

2018/19 Stats – 69 Games Played, 18 Goals, 25 Assists, 43 Points, -13

This is the only time I will be putting two players from the same team on this but it had to be said. As one of my favorite players in the NHL, watching Rakell struggle with injuries and just look tired last season sucked for me as a fan. Maybe it was the factor a lot more stress was put on him with Getzlaf and Perry being out for major stretches of the season or even him dealing with his own injuries it just didn’t look like the Rakell I was used to seeing the last couple seasons and I believe with a strong healthy season out of him and his teammates he will be back over 60 points next season.

6. Alexander Wennberg (24 y/o)

2018/19 Stats – 75 Games Played, 2 Goals, 23 Assists, 25 Points, -1

Prior to the 2017/18 season, it looked like Wennberg was going to be a core member of the up and coming Jackets core having come off of 59 point season and had just signed a 6 year, 29 Million Dollar deal. This deal looked like a steal because he was going to get 60-70 points the rest of this contract and was going to be the 1st line center that they needed due to them trading Ryan Johansen for Seth Jones. Fast forward 2 seasons, 141 games, healthy scratches and only 60 points combined later it looks like a contract the Jackets want to get rid of. I believe that next season is a make or break season for Wennberg with the Jackets not signing Matt Duchene the 2nd line Center position is his to take. If he continues to struggle though he will find himself on another team pretty quick.

5. Max Pacioretty (30 y/o)

2018/19 Stats – 66 Games Played, 22 Goals, 18 Assists, 40 Points, -13

How quickly people forget a player’s struggles if they have a great playoff. During the playoffs having only played 7 games he scored 5 goals and 6 assists for 11 points and all was forgiven. I was one of those people until I looked at his point outputs the last 2 seasons. During his last season with the Montreal Canadiens, he had only 17 goals along with 37 points (a full 30 point drop from the season prior) and had only played 64 games. He was then traded to Vegas the following summer and was promptly signed to a 4 year 28 Million dollar (7 Mil Average) contract not even playing a game yet with the team. This season he got over 20 goals again but had only 40 points and was injured. He started to get going later on in the season having gotten used to his linemates (Was often Paul Stastny who was also injured)  and it looked good and thus lead up to his playoff performance. Now, this season lets see if he can put it all together and get back to his 35-40 goal self having had a full season in a new system and hopefully better injury luck.

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4. Drew Doughty (29 y/o)

2018/19 Stats – 82 Games Played, 8 Goals, 37 Assists, 45 Points, -34

Bet you thought I wasn’t going to do any defensemen! For most defenders, this stat line wouldn’t be terrible (Besides the +/-) but for Drew Doughty who is considered one of the best of his kind, this was not a great year for him or the Kings. Having only been a minus player twice in his career this -34 stat sticks out. The point totals were there but the play all around seemed to lack. For Doughty, it isn’t like he just forgot how to play hockey but his level of play was not of that of his Norris Caliber of a couple year ago. When Doughty plays like one of the best D’s in the league the Kings do well. And while it may be a long shot for the Kings to get back into playoff contention a Bounce back year from Doughty will bring them that much closer.

3. Jordan Eberle (29 y/o)

Season Stats 2018/19 – 78 Games Played, 19 Goals, 18 Assists, 37 Points, -6

If you’re Canadian you’ll remember Jordan Eberle’s run in the world Juniors 2009 where he was an absolute monster. (Go look up his highlights from then you won’t be disappointed) If you’re anybody else then you will remember him being a cog of a very broken Edmonton Oilers team that traded him after one bad playoff performance. Which was his only playoff experience considering the team hadn’t made the postseason since 2006. Flash forward to now and you have a player who just signed a 5-year deal after having a great playoff. Eberle can get you 25-30 goals and 50-60 points. Last season didn’t go well for him and I expect after signing a nice deal, having a great playoff (9 Points in 8 games) and having gotten used to playing under Barry Trots, Ebs’ will be back as one of the leading scorers on this New York Islanders squad.

2. William Nylander (23 y/o)

2018/19 Season Stats – 54 Games Played, 7 Goals, 20 Assists, 27 Points, -4

The most hated, evil Villain Toronto has ever seen. As a Toronto Maple Leafs fan who is on Twitter, I can say for certain that if you like the Leafs and you’re on Twitter you either A.) Hate Nylander and want him off the team B.) Really LOVE Nylander and will defend him till death. There is no middle ground on Twitter. In real life, I believe in Willy and think that having a summer of training with the Leafs, a training camp and preseason with the Leafs and starting the Season with…. the…. LEAFS…. will do him better than chilling in Switzerland wondering if he getting a contract till December and not playing or practicing with NHLers.

1. Jaden Schwartz (26 y/o)

2018/19 Season Stats – 69 Games played, 11 Goals, 25 assists, 36 points, -6

So you see those 11 goals he scored in 69 games up there? Yea he scored 12 in the playoffs on his way to winning the Stanley Cup and nobody says one thing about the season he had. I don’t blame them. When you’re an integral part of a team that won a Cup you don’t talk about the horrible season he had but heading into these playoffs that were the question. Prior to this season, you could have guaranteed that Schwartz would give you 55-60 points a season when healthy. During the 2017/18 season prior to getting hurt, he was on pace for a career year in points with 59 in 62 games and there was no reason to think he wouldn’t break it this season. In saying that all the Blues had very bad seasons prior to the beginning of January to it is safe to say with a Stanley Cup ring on his finger and a reinvigorated sense of accomplishment, Schwartz is one the main guys I  believe will have a huge comeback season.

 

 

 

Clearing the Puck! Your Weekly Look at the World of Hockey!

Welcome back to Clearing the Puck for the week of June 1st to 7th! This week we look more at the Stanley Cup Finals and the NHL Entry Draft! I also shamelessly show my love for the Toronto Raptors again!

Incase this is your first time, here is the rundown. What we’re going to be doing at Puck77 is putting out a weekly recap. There are going to be observations, summaries and some cool things that we noticed around the web from the NHL and the world of hockey from the last week. There will be 10 points every Saturday morning. Included will be links to articles from our website as well as many others to help fill you in on some of the best hockey and NHL content from around the web. Without further ado, let’s dive into the week!

Brett Hull is Fired Up!

You have to love when teams bring back some of the legends. It’s a big thing around sports and hockey is no different. This week the St. Louis Blues brought out Brett Hull prior to game four. The Blues Executive VP was fired up when addressing the crowd and it seemed to pump up the team and the crowd. He also flipped off the Boston Bruins bench during the game.


Tweet courtesy of @NHLonNBCSports

Craig Button’s Draft Rankings

The topic of the draft world on Thursday was the release of TSN Head Scout Craig Button’s 2019 Draft Rankings. The reason for that was what some called complete lack of effort and insight outside of their Elite Prospects page. I am not going to go into the actual rankings or even the errors in the small blurbs that were attached to each prospect. What I will say is that at a bare minimum, we should respect his rankings.

Craig Button has been an NHL general manager, scout and involved in hockey in many ways that most of us could only dream of. Whether or not you agree with his rankings, many of which I personally don’t, you shouldn’t attack the man. Criticize his ranking, point out that there were errors in the stats listed and the blurbs but there are too many times where people were attacking Button and calling for his job. Let’s be honest, we would kill to be in his position and he’s worked hard. This year his rankings were bad in many eyes, but he has the pedigree and connections that could be giving him information that he used. Yes he should have double checked (or have a TSN intern do it) and it poorly reflects on him and his rankings. Attack the rankings if you must, but stop attacking the human being. Be kind to your fellow human being.

Bruins Experience Poor Officiating, Oh no…

So we all know that the Bruins have played “Bruins hockey” all playoffs long. From Brad Marchand punching guys in the back of the head to Zdeno Chara uppercutting John Tavares in a scrum, the Bruins know how to play on the line better than any other team. The officiating in the post-season has been questionable to say the least, but the Bruins have been the beneficiary more often than not this year.

Until now. As game four of the Stanley Cup finals started getting closer to the finish with the Blues holding a 1-0 lead the Bruins got their taste of the officiating. Tyler Bozak skates towards the puck carrier, Noel Acciari, and blatantly trips him. The trip disrupts the pass which St. Louis recovers and then scores to put the Blues up 2-0.


Tweet courtesy of @BradyTrett

Making this situation all the more painful for Bruins fans was the fact that Jake DeBrusk scored almost right away, which conceivably could have tied the game. Now we don’t know if that goal happens with the game playing out differently but it’s undeniable that this stings for Boston. So much so that fans were fighting each other in the stands. Again, be kind people.


Tweet courtesy of @theTonyFerrari

Officiating disasters of this post season!

Speaking of terrible officiating, Rogers Sportsnet’s Rory Boylen put out an article on Friday summarizing some of the worst calls of the playoffs. I’m not going to go into it a ton, but I will say that there are three teams that seemed to have benefitted the most. The Boston Bruins, St. Louis Blues and most of all, the San Jose Sharks. You can read Rory’s piece here.

Puck77 Draft Rankings

The Puck77 site rankings came out last weekend! There was a lot of movement from our previous rankings. How far did Caufield rise? Did Kakko overtake Hughes? Who slipped into the end of the top-31? You can check the rankings out below!

https://twitter.com/thepuck77/status/1134795135982682112?s=21
Tweet courtesy of @thePuck77

Chara doesn’t care about his face!

Zdeno Chara is a freak. He’s a massive man, listed at 6’9″ and 250lbs. He is a future Hall of Famer. He has won the Norris Trophy as the leagues best defenceman. He also doesn’t care about his face. During game three, Chara was attempting to disrupt a shot when the puck deflected cleanly off his stick and struck him directly in the face.


Tweet courtesy of @HockeyNight

After dealing with the blood and injury during the intermission, the Bruins captain came back to the bench to help cheer his team on with a full face shield. He didn’t play the remainder of that game despite being on the bench in the third. He did however, suit up for the Bruins in game four and played 16:42 of the game and while he wasn’t 100% he was effective at times with his long reach and strength in the defensive zone. Chara is an animal.

Puck77 NHL Draft Profiles

This week Puck77 released our NHL Draft Profile Deep Dives for the top dozen prospects on our rankings. In the profiles you can find a scouting report, some basic stats and advanced stats, video with quick analysis and a review of their season. They are arguably some of the most in-depth free profiles on these players. Enjoy reading them and prepare for the draft with Puck77! You can find them below, linked to each player.

Jack Hughes

Kaapo Kakko

Alex Turcotte

Bowen Byram

Trevor Zegras

Dylan Cozens

Cole Caufield

Kirby Dach

Alex Newhook

Peyton Krebs

Matthew Boldy

Vasili Podkolzin

Erik Karlsson finally gets his groin fixed

https://twitter.com/sanjosesharks/status/1136374623606583296?s=21
Tweet courtesy of @SanJoseSharks

Erik Karlsson is one of the best defencemen of our generation. He’s one of the all-time greats with multiple Norris trophy wins. During his playoff run with San Jose, Karlsson looked absolutely hobbled. His hamstring injury plagued him all season and in the playoffs, it was so much worse. San Jose confirmed this week that Karlsson had surgery to repair the injury. It’s a welcome sight because the all-time great is looking to sign his big-money contract. Hopefully, for the sake of hockey, Erik Karlsson recovers fully and we can start watching him make extraordinary plays again. This was mostly my excuse to watch Karlsson highlights.

Video courtesy of the Hockey Brothers Youtube channel

Podcasts to get you through the summer!

With the NHL season almost over, I figured I’d throw some podcast out here to listen to while you pass the time in the summer. Some are hockey, some aren’t, but here’s a solid list of stuff I’m listening to and stuff I want to get together.

Steve Dangle Podcast (Leafs Centric, all NHL)

Hockey PDOcast (NHL General, stats)

Staff and Graph podcast (NHL General, stats, strategy)

Winged Wheel Podcast (Red Wings centric)

Always Aggravated (Sports General, pop culture)

Andrew Berkshire Podcast (Movies/Superheroes)

Hardcore History with Dan Carlin (history, long form)

What Really Happened? (A look back at historical events)

Atlanta Monster/Monster: Zodiac (Crime, History)

Full 60 (Hockey General, Athletic subscription required)

Puck Soup (Hockey General, Athletic subscription required)

Most of these fantastic podcasts can be found on Apple Podcast, Google, Spotify or any other podcast app or pod-catcher that you may use!

Raptors go up 3-1!

This is a hockey blog but the Toronto Raptors fever that’s overtaken Canada has been a blast! I won’t go crazy into analysis but it’s a big deal for Canada! So here’s this gem from Shaw after the Raps win over the Golden State Warriors to go up 3-1 in the NBA finals and come that much closer to Canada bringing a Championship home in the four major sports for the first time since the Blue Jays in 1993!

Video courtesy of TSN YouTube channel

Boston Bruins: Dominant In Game Three Against The St. Louis Blues

The Boston Bruins Left No Doubt As They Outplayed The St. Louis Blues In Game 3

 

Downtown St. Louis was rocking for the first Stanley Cup Final game in 49 years, with thousands upon thousands of people packed the different venues in the downtown area. There was a buzz in the air.

That excitement died after one period as the Boston Bruins took a commanding 3-0 leading heading into the first intermission. The game started out well enough for St. Louis as they came out strong, including Sammy Blais landing a massive hit on David Backes and Jake Debrusk took a penalty for kneeing almost right away. That sound you heard when the penalty was called was from Toronto, with Maple Leafs fans yelling FINALLY!!!.

The Bruins held strong on the penalty kill though, and finally got a shot through on Jordan Binnington with 13:57 left in the first from Torey Krug, who had an excellent game.

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Blues fans went crazy as Binnington made an incredible save off the stick of David Pastrnak. That was when Boston really started to dominate as David Perron took a penalty for interfering with Brandon Carlo and the Bruins power play went to to work. Krug got a shot off and Patrice Bergeron tipped it in for his ninth of the playoffs.

Boston continued to control the play and with 2:20 left in the first, Charlie Coyle continued his strong playoff as he flipped one through the legs of Binnington to put the Bruins up 2-0. A couple of minutes later, Sean Kuraly put one in right before the end of the period and it was 3-0 and the crowd was deflated. The Blues challenged it for offside, which proved to be the wrong choice and the goal stood and the Bruins went back on the power play just as the first period ended.

Second Period

With another power play the Bruins went to work and Pastrnak scored, making that four goals in the last five shots for the Bruins. Things starting getting chippy after that and after every whistle it seemed as if there was white sweater and blue sweater face to face, yapping at each other.

The Blues had their chance on the power play as Zdeno Chara went off for an unsportsmanlike conduct call. Tyler Bozak had a prime opportunity in front of the net and Tuukka Rask made a nice save pushing it aside.

The St. Louis crowd had something to cheer about though as Ivan Barbashev potted one off a nice feed from Zach Sanford and it was now 4-1. The Blues crowd tried to will their team to get back into it but Colton Parayko took a penalty for high sticking Brad Marchand, and Krug scored on a shot Binnington would like back and it was 5-1.

For the first time in his young National Hockey League career,  Binnington was pulled and replaced by Jake Allen. Play went back and forth for a little bit after that but the Blues were unable to beat Rask with anything and the Bruins took that 5-1 lead into the third period.

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Third Period

If you thought things were getting chippy before, Perron took a roughing call against Rask in a play that was very unnecessary from the Blues forward, who had a very rough game. Connor Clifton, however, took a matching minor so the Bruins were unable to put their lethal power play back on the ice.

The Bruins penalty kill was able to kill off a penalty called on Carlo but were put right back on it with Chara getting sent to the box for roughing. Parayko gave Blues fans a ray of hope when he was able to put one in off a Bruin glove and it flipped over Rask cutting the lead to 5-2.

DeBrusk then flipped one over the glass and got sent to the box for a Delay of Game penalty and many were wondering if the Blues were really going to be able to make this a game again. It wasn’t meant to be though as the Boston penalty kill was outstanding once again.

Things seem to stay under control for a little while and the Blues pulled Allen for an extra attacker, trying to get back into the game. St. Louis was able to put a little pressure on Rask, but he was up to the task and Noel Acciari got the empty netter to extend the lead to 6-2. Alex Pietrangelo was called for slashing and the Bruins put an exclamation point on this dominant performance when Marcus Johansson scored the final goal of the game in a 7-2 final giving the Bruins a 2-1 lead in this best of seven series.

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Wrap Up

The only good news for Blues fans is that even though Boston dominated, it only counts for one game and if your a Bruin fan you have to beaming with confidence after one the biggest beat downs in recent memory in the Stanley Cup Final. Another effort like that on Monday and the Bruins will have a chance to end this next week at the TD Garden in Boston.

We have seen the Blues and Binnington bounce back after tough losses and they will need to do so again in a must win game at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis Monday evening.

The Bruins went 4-4 on the power play and it only took four shots, which is unacceptable from an NHL team, but also goes to show how great this Bruins team is. Rask wasn’t unbelievable in Game 3, but came up big when the Bruins need him too, stopping 27 of 29 shots. Binnington was pulled after only stopping 14 of 19 shots and Allen in relief duty stopped three of the four shots he faced.

Krug had a four-point night with a goal and three assists and after a quiet first couple of games, Bergeron came on strong with a goal and two assists.

Game 4 is set for Monday at 8:00 E.T. in what will be a must-win for the Blues, or Boston will take a commanding 3-1 lead.

 

All statistics were gained from NHL.com

Featured Image Photo Credit: Nikos Michals

 

 

Puck77

NHL Draft Profile: Kirby Dach

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