Kirby Dach is used to doing things a bit early.
When he was just 12 years old, an age when most kids are still playing in their second year of Peewee hockey, Dach cracked the Fort Saskatchewan Rangers Bantam AAA team.
Dach fared so well in the Bantam circuit that after his second season with the Rangers, in which he posted 100 points in just 33 games, Fort Saskatchewan Minor Hockey allowed him to forgo his final year of Bantam eligibility in order to play Midget AAA a year early.
As a 14 year old in his rookie season of Midget AAA, Dach scored over a point per game while playing against 15 and 16 year old kids. By the end of the season, his already impressive body of work was enough to convince the Saskatoon Blades to select the natural centre second overall in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft.
Born on January 21st of 2001, Dach was only 15 at the beginning of the current WHL season, making him ineligible to play the full campaign with the Blades. However, Dach, who is eligible for the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, was recalled to Saskatoon in February on an emergency basis due to a rash of injuries among the forward corps.
Both the Western Hockey League and Hockey Alberta (the governing body under which Fort Saskatchewan Minor Hockey belongs) permitted the loan to last the remainder of the season due to extenuating circumstances.
Dach put an explanation point on his call up by scoring twice on February 10th against the Moose Jaw Warriors, his first game since a brief cup of coffee with Saskatoon earlier in the year. The rangy forward has racked up six goals and four assists in 19 games for the Blades, some solid production for a 16 year old rookie.
I had the chance to watch Dach play on March 8th against the Calgary Hitmen, a game in which the Blades won by a commanding score of 6-2. I focused specifically on Dach’s shifts, so here’s a few notes on his performance.
March 8th, Saskatoon @ Calgary, Final Score 6-2 Saskatoon
Dach, a right-handed shot, spent most of the game on the left wing, but did take a couple draws. I assume he is just being eased in to the centre position at this level, as he’s clearly a natural centre. On multiple occasions, came deep into his own zone to support the puck and provide an outlet for his defenders.
Scored a goal on a play that started in his own zone, supporting in deep, receiving a breakout pass and then chipping the puck to himself, getting it deep in the offensive zone. Proceeded to forecheck as the Hitmen goaltender was trying to play the puck, stripped it away from him and popped it into the empty net.
A very intelligent player, with excellent hockey IQ. Always seems to know where to put the puck for himself or his teammates. Has the smarts to win puck battles, just needs to add the strength to match. On several occasions, stripped the puck on the forecheck from opposing forwards with a quick stick lift, also intercepted a handful of passes. Head stays on a swivel when going into corners.
At 6’2 and 170 pounds, Dach will grow into his frame with time. Added muscle will improve his skating, as he already has solid speed and fundamentals but clearly needs a bit more power behind his stride. Added strength will also greatly aid him in winning puck battles, as mentioned earlier, he has the brain to win any puck battle, just needs some muscle to back it up against bigger and older players.
Didn’t notice him cheating for offence at all, which is encouraging to see at this stage from a 16 year old. Has an impressive offensive toolbox, defining qualities include his silky quick hands and hockey intelligence. Doesn’t seem to have many bad habits on the ice and was hustling all night long. Dach has the tools to be a dominant offensive centre.
Kirby Dach is an exciting prospect, one of the headliners from what seems to be a strong crop of WHL talent for the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. Dach is tracking as a first round pick, and it will certainly be entertaining to follow his journey to draft day in 2019 and beyond.
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