Kirby Dach is a lot like the previously-profiled Dylan Cozens. Both are big centers who play a two-way, 200-foot game. Both have produced a lot of points in the Western Hockey League. Both are able to drive play, but have glaring weaknesses as well.
Dach, at 6-foot-4 and 198 pounds, is the larger of the two, however. He doesn’t have the same explosiveness Cozens has when it comes to skating, but his reach is longer and much like Cozens, Dach is incredibly useful in transition. He was the go-to player for the Saskatoon Blades last season and played minutes against stiff competition.
If the Blackhawks select Dach with the third overall pick in the NHL draft, they’ll be taking a center regarded for a two-way game and an ability to cut through the neutral zone with the puck that set him apart from the rest of the draft. Dach was a massive minute-eater for Saskatoon Blades, and is a natural with and without, the puck.
Dach also has incredible vision and a terrific passing acumen that allows him to rack up points, even if his shot, much like his skating, lags behind some of his peers. That ability to create plays after getting the puck into the offensive zone is something any team could use, and Dach has the strength and size to protect the puck while doing so.
Dach’s hands are also upper tier in this year’s draft, and he’s a marvel with the puck. That’s how he’s able to gain the zone, despite his skating, and that ability to maneuver the puck wherever Dach sees fit helps him create plays that will cause the team drafting him to do so.
Dach also plays a solid 200-foot game, and he puts as much effort into the defensive zone as he does in the offensive zone. He doesn’t have the physicality of some other centers, which means when a team targets him with hits and physical boundaries, Dach can often get lost, but he made progress on that toward the end of the season.
The most concerning thing about Dach is his production. He only had 73 points in 62 games this season, his draft year, and those aren’t good numbers. Not when there are two members of his draft class (Cozens and Brayden Tracey) with better point-per-game rates and more points. Cozens had 84 points to Dach’s 73. Part of that is the mid-season lull Dach went through, where he scored at a far slower rate.
But the things Dach does well he does very well, and his upside is massive. He projects out as a first-line center with size and a 200-foot game, and that’s something every team could use.
Age: 18 (Jan. 21, 2001)
Hometown: St. Albert, Alberta, Canada
Weight: 198 pounds
Team: Saskatoon Blades, WHL
NHL Central Scouting (NHL): No. 3 North American skater
Scott Wheeler (The Athletic): No. 8
Corey Pronman (The Athletic): No. 10
Cam Robinson (Dobber Prospects): No. 10
Craig Button (TSN): No. 12
Bob McKenzie (TSN): No. 4
NHL comparison: Mark Scheifele
Expected first season: 2020-21
Expected entry position: third-line center
Expected potential position: first-line center