ColoradoAvalanche.com is profiling draft-eligible prospects leading up to the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver on June 21-22. Forward Kirby Dach is the No. 3-ranked North American skater in NHL Central Scouting's final rankings. The Avalanche has the fourth and 16th overall selections at the draft.
At 6-foot-4, 197 pounds, Kirby Dach is on the larger side for a center, but he does not rely on his size alone. The 18-year-old forward pairs his physicality with a strong hockey IQ, studying the game as well as practicing it.
"[Dach] is a high-end skill player that came out of the gate real strong," said John Williams of NHL Central Scouting. "He's very smart on both sides of the puck and is more of a playmaker but showing he can score."
The St. Albert, Alberta, native put up 73 points through 62 games in the regular season for the Saskatoon Blades of the Western Hockey League, his 48 assists ranked second on the club. Dach helped lead the Blades to a playoff berth for the first time since 2013 and he recorded eight points (five goals, three assists) in 10 postseason outings, including three goals and two assists in a four-game sweep of the Moose Jaw Warriors in the first round.
"Kirby has a high level of hockey IQ," Saskatoon head coach Mitch Love said to NHL.com. "He sees and distributes the game at an elite level for a young 18-year-old. What may be unassuming to people is just how competitive he is in his day-to-day approach in coming to the rink and wanting to get better."
Video: Dach discusses being in spotlight at Scouting Combine
Dach began major-junior play at the age of 15 after being selected second overall in the 2016 WHL Draft. In 2016-17, he notched 10 points (six goals, four assists) in 19 outings in a league in which most of his opponents and teammates were older than him. His performance improved between his rookie and sophomore campaigns. In 2017-18, Dach produced more than four times the amount of points than the previous year, posting 46 points (seven goals, 39 assists) through 52 contests.
"I kind of look at Ryan Getzlaf and what he was able to do in the WHL with Calgary in building his game, playing against older competition, how strong a 200-foot center he was as a playmaker and a pass-first type of guy," Dach said to NHL.com. "I've read where Mark Scheifele is always analyzing statistics of the game, and I'm kind of the same way. I've always been fascinated by stats and wanting to learn more."
Video: Dach on grueling fitness testing at Scouting Combine
Consistently putting up solid numbers in assists, Dach embodies a pass-first mentality but also comes up strong in clutch situations. He finished tied for third on the team with five game-winning markers and notched a short-handed tally for Saskatoon.
Dach also has success on the international stage. He showcased his versatility as he played right wing instead of his usual center position for Team Canada at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup. The forward put up seven points (two goals, five assists) in five outings to help his country capture the championship gold medal.
With a driven, work-horse attitude, high point totals and a large stature, Dach has grown--literally--into his role as a versatile power forward.