Kirby Dach – Saskatoon – WHL
Position: C, Shoots Right
Birthday: Jan 21, 2001, Fort Saskatchewan, CAN
Age on Draft Day: 18
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 198 lbs
2018-19 Stats: WHL Saskatoon; 62 GP, 25G, 48A, 73P, 40 PIM
International: Hlinka U18 CAN; 5GP, 2G, 5A
NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters): #3
Future Considerations: #7
Elite Prospects: #7
Hockey Prospects: #8
Bob McKenzie: #4
Corey Pronman: #10, High-end NHL Prospect “Projects as a top-line forward who can play PP1”
Kirby Dach is an intriguing prospect for Wings fans as he fits right into the grouping that is projected near the #6 pick along with other centres like Zegras and Cozens or scoring wingers like Podkolzin and Caufield.
Dach is a hulking prospect standing at a towering 6’ 4” and 198 lbs. The right handed centreman is the largest among the top tier of prospects although others like Cozens are not too far off. But don’t let his size fool you into thinking he’s a ogre on skates. Dach has a very top level skill set.
All scouting reports on Dach gush over his abilities as a passer and playmaker. Scouts unanimously praise his ability to find seams and provide perfect touch on his passes. He’s creative in finding openings to teammates and you can already pencil him in for one day working a top powerplay unit from the half boards.
To go along with his great passing ability, most reports mention his terrific hands in one on one situations. Dach uses the great reach his size provides him to turn defenders inside out or keep them out of reach from knocking the puck away from him. Dach has shown a knack for using creative moves to open up passing lanes for his teammates.
His skating, however, is one of Dach’s attributes that doesn’t receive glowing reviews from all scouts. Nobody states his skating as a weakness, with some scouts only going as far as calling it serviceable rather than a strength. But not everyone agrees, as others seem to think it is a weapon he possesses. While not an explosive first step skater, as is the case with most big men, his long stride does allow him to pull away from or close in on his opponents over the length of the ice. His edge work was also praised by some, especially considering his size.
Another perceived area to work on for Dach is that for a player his size he doesn’t always use it effectively and he can even be knocked around at times. He can have a tendency to battle for the puck like a smaller skill player has to. He has the size and reach to impose his will along the boards but it seems like sometimes he forgets or neglects to. Tied to this same train of thought, some scouts mention he can look like he lacks urgency and effort at times, and this is what they point to for the lulls in his production last season and leaves some wanting more from him in his point totals.
When it comes to finishing a play rather than setting it up, most scouts refer to Dach’s shot as being decent enough but will probably not separate him at the pro level from his peers. His shot is effective at the junior level but likely won’t have the pace at the next level unless he works on it. Again, it’s not something scouts thought wasn’t good enough, it just didn’t blow them away like you hope it would for a top 10 pick.
Circling back to the things scouts did like about Dach, they all loved his high hockey IQ and the way he sees the ice. This ability to read the play before it happens is crucial for any prospect to succeed at the pro level. Plenty of very talented prospects have floundered because they couldn’t anticipate plays at the speed required to make it at the NHL level. Dach doesn’t show any concerns in this area with some scouts calling it his best skill, it will serve him well.
Having that high hockey IQ has also helped Dach excel as a two-way player. He anticipates his opponents plays well and uses that long reach to break up plays or box in his target. While not overwhelmingly physical on his forecheck, Dach does put himself in good position to prevent primary options on the breakout.
The general consensus on Dach is that he possesses a high level skill set with no really weak area. Dach can do a bit of everything and adapt to the role he’s given at the next level. For this reason he’s a high floor type player, among the least likely to bust in his tier, despite some concerns over his production and consistency. While he has a wide-ranging toolkit, he needs his passing and vision to be what separates him at the NHL level in order to become an upper echelon centre. Dach projects to most likely become a 2nd line centre setup man, and on the high side a middle level 1st line centre.
Iif you assume the draft shakes out as most suspect with Hughes, Kakko, Turcotte, and Byram going before the Wings #6 pick, only one of the group of Zegras, Cozens, Podkolzin, Caufield, and Dach would likely be off the board, leaving the Wings with a large pool to choose from.
Dach makes a good case to be that pick, but it’s going to be a matter of preference for Yzerman and company. Dach represents a somewhat safe pick. His high IQ and vision with his passing ability can leave you salivating that he could one day be the setup man for someone like Zadina. Also the critiques that are tied to him regarding his consistency, intensity, effort, and using his size to his full advantage are common for big men, and can’t help but make you think of Anthony Mantha who has received similar knocks over his career, justified or not.
While they are very different players in that Mantha is more of a trigger man to Dach’s playmaking style, if his ceiling is on the same level as Mantha ’s than you have to be happy selecting him. He’s a large, very skilled, playmaking centre who also happens to be right handed, of which the Wings have very few up front. The Wings would be wise to secure the middle of their lineup for the future with a player like Dach.