In the 2019 NHL Draft the Buffalo Sabres will draft 7th overall, and they should have a lot of intriguing options by the time they walk up to the podium on June 21st.
The most popular names linked to the 7th overall pick have been Alex Turcotte, Trevor Zegras, Matthew Boldy and Kirby Dach.
While all four are great choices for a top-7 pick, this article will focus on Saskatoon Blades’ Center Kirby Dach.
If the Sabres draft select Dach, it would be the first time in two drafts that Botterill selects a player from the CHL. Dach is a 6-4, 198 lbs. Center, he’s ranked fourth by Future Considerations Hockey and by Bob McKenzie and is considered the third ranked North American Skater by Central Scouting.
“While the starts aren’t dynamite, the straight-line speed is overwhelming and along with his elite puck skill and IQ he is near unstoppable once he gets wound up. His stick work and touch with the puck is phenomenal at speed or in tight ice and he is capable of getting out of any sort of bind by simply outmaneuvering and outthinking opponents,” said Justin Froese, Head Western Scout at Future Considerations.
He is a unique combination of size, speed and skill that anyone would want in a first round pick, and according to the Athletic’s Corey Pronman Dach projects as a #1 C in the NHL.
With a legitimate franchise center already in the fold in Buffalo Dach would likely compete with Mittelstadt for the #2C spot, but there’s no such thing as too much center depth in the NHL, so if he is available Dach would be a nice add for the Sabres.
In The Athletic’s mock draft article (in which the Sabres selected Dach) Pronman wrote a raving review of Dach:
“There are few players in the world with Dach’s size with his combination of hands, vision and skating ability. He has all the potential to be a first-line center in the NHL. Buffalo has their first-line center already in Jack Eichel, but there’s no such thing as too many awesome centers.”
The one knock against him is that he is inconsistent, and you never know what you’re going to get out of him on a nightly basis.
“He’s a peaks and valleys type player who could easily be a top 5 pick due to his skill, but he doesn’t bring it on a nightly basis. Can’t discount the fact that despite his recent ascension that his whole season was an ebb and flow between being a focal point and irrelevant,” said Froese.
Dach appeared in 62 regular season games for the Blades, scoring 25 goals and adding 48 assists for 73 points. He also added five goals and three assists in 10 playoff games this post-season.
Speed and Skating
If you look at Dach’s game he has great offensive potential, any player of his size with the ability to accelerate at fast speeds AND have the ability to stick handle through anyone standing in his way should be at the top of anyone’s draft list.
On this end-to-end rush, you can see Dach’s straight-line speed but he also shows that he can get to top speed while handling the puck and moving east-west.
In today’s NHL, you have to be able to skate and create while moving at top-speed and Dach has shown that he has the ability to do both.
Just look at his highlight reel goal from this playoff game against Prince Albert:
Dach is able to side step an opponent while skating at full-speed, then enter the zone (while still at top-speed) make an amazing between the legs deke, then drive the net for a beautiful goal.
He may be unstoppable once he hits full-speed, he is a rare combination of traits that could be an offensive force at the next level.
Ability to use his size
Another aspect of Dach’s game is his ability to use his body and skating ability to drive pucks to the net.
In this goal you can see Dach use his body to drive past the defender, wrap the puck around for a shot but he’s not finished there…he sticks with the puck, corrals the rebound and buries the goal.
Here, Dach uses his speed, skill and size to get past the defender and drive the puck to the net for a shot attempt.
He can use his size for more than offence too. While he isn’t an overly physical player, Froese points out that Dach isn’t afraid to throw his weight around from time to time.
“Often not a highly aggressive player, when Dach does to exert some sort of physical presence, he delivers hard, bone jarring hits that send opponents off the puck,” said Froese.
Elite offensive skill
So far, Dach’s speed and size have been examined but he’s more than just big and fast.
Dach has elite offensive skills that every hockey player wishes they could possess.
He can handle to puck with ease, and make all the passes that you want a top-6 center to make…but as Froese points out, he can shoot the puck too.
“Although often portraying himself as the set up man, his shot is high end and is respected due to the power and snap release.”
Dach is able to beat the defenders, pick up the puck and snipe the puck short-side on the opposing goaltender.
He was able to score 25 goals in the WHL this year, and his shot is part of the reason why.
It also helps, that he has great stick handling skills that allow him to deke goaltenders and create great plays like this:
While Dach has the speed, the skill and the ability to use his size to create offence…he also has one thing that no player wants, and that’s inconsistency.
As Froese said, he can go from being a focal point to irrelevant on a nightly basis…and that is something that he will need to work on if he wants to be a great NHLer.
The consistency needs to be there in terms of effort, and focus. At times Dach can shy away from using his best assets, and at times he can have inexcusable mental lapses.
This is a great example of Dach showing off his high motor… he beats his man and has a clear-cut breakaway.
However he decides to pass up on a prime scoring chance and force an unneccesary pass to his teammate…it may not seem like a big deal but this is a mental lapse that great players just can’t have.
It’s something that can be coached out of him, but it’s something that he will need to take responsibility for as a budding NHLer.
Earlier, I showcased Dach’s ability to use his speed and size to drive the net and create offence…here you can see that Dach doesn’t use his size or his speed to get close to the net for a quality chance.
Ideally, a 6-4 nearly 200 lbs. player would drive the net with more authority and get a better look…this is an example that shows Dach doesn’t always attack with a high-motor, or with the best of his abilities.
If Dach wants to be an impact player at the next level, he’s going to have to give the same consistent effort on a nightly basis and use all of his tools to his advantage.
He knows he has the ability to skate by and overpower defenders now he needs to do it on a regular basis.
Pronman thinks Dach has the potential to be a #1C in the NHL, and Froese said that Dach “could easily be a top 5 pick due to his skill”, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him off the board early in June.
I think that the Sabres should seriously consider Dach if he is on the board at 7, players like this don’t come around often.
Imagine the damage Tage Thompson could do if he knew how to use his body and his offensive talent…well that’s Dach, he knows how to use his size, speed and skill to his advantage and more often than not, he is usually able to put his entire game together.
Dach could be a great addition to the Sabres, he’s a center but has also shown versatility by playing on the wing at the Hlinka-Gretzky tournament.
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