VANCOUVER -- Kirby Dach was chosen with the No. 3 pick of the 2019 NHL Draft by the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday, after the first two picks went as projected.
"I didn't really know what to expect at all," Dach said. "[It] was a surprise and a shock to me, but I'm thrilled to be a Blackhawk. [It's] going to be awesome to live there and play my game there."
Center Jack Hughes was chosen No. 1 by the New Jersey Devils and right wing Kaapo Kakko was selected No. 2 by the New York Rangers. The third pick was where the intrigue began.
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Dach (6-foot-4, 198 pounds), a center, had 73 points (25 goals, 48 assists) in 62 games with Saskatoon of the Western Hockey League.
"It's obvious to see what he's good at with his skill set. He's got great hands, great playmaker, he can do everything, score some beautiful goals, all the things that wow you," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said. "But then he does the other stuff. He was great at stripping pucks, he was great at backchecking, he was great at the physical play [during the WHL playoffs]. ... When you watch the NHL playoffs and you see how intense it can be, then you look at the way he plays you can see that game translates."
With the unpredictably surrounding No. 3 and varied opinions on who could go in that spot, Bowman said he never had much thought about trading down.
"We were excited about where we were picking," he said. "[There] wasn't really any talk of other teams moving up. We were really comfortable with the player. When you see what Kirby's capable of doing, you get excited about that. We were very comfortable picking him."
Video: Blackhawks draft F Kirby Dach No. 3
Defenseman Bowen Byram was taken by the Colorado Avalanche with the No. 4 pick, which they obtained from the Ottawa Senators as part of a three-team trade with the Nashville Predators in 2017.
Byram (6-1, 195) led WHL defenseman in goals (26) and game-winning goals (nine), was third in points (71) in 67 regular-season games, and set a single-season league record with six overtime goals. He led the WHL playoffs with 26 points (eight goals, 18 assists) in 22 games.
"We had him right up there," Avalanche GM Joe Sakic said. "Love the way he plays. He plays fast, poised with the puck, he plays the way we want to play. He can do everything. And he's got guts and bite. Love the type of players he is."
Video: Avalanche draft D Bowen Byram No. 4
The Los Angeles Kings chose center Alex Turcotte from the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 team at No. 5.
Turcotte (5-11, 186) averaged 1.68 points per game in 37 games, second on the NTDP to Hughes (2.24), despite missing 22 games early in the season because of a lower-body injury.
"Alex is the type of player that if you're a winger on his line you want to play with him," Kings director of player personnel Nelson Emerson told their website. "He's going to get it to you on your tape, he's going to get it to you at the right time and he's going to get it to you at the right speed."
Turcotte will play at least next season at the University of Wisconsin but is confident he'll eventually bring the Kings what they need to return to contention for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"I think I have that grit factor the Kings are known for," he said. "But I think the biggest parts of my game are just my speed and skill and intelligence. I can help the team in that element, in that regard. I think I'm going to bring that to the table. That's really important to win games."
Video: Kings draft F Alex Turcotte No. 5
The biggest surprise of the draft came at No. 6, when the Detroit Red Wings chose defenseman Moritz Seider of Mannheim in Germany. The 6-3, 208-pound right-handed shot was No. 6 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of International skaters. He was rookie of the year in Germany's top league and scored two goals in five games at the 2019 IIHF World Championship.
He's the first German-born defenseman to be selected in the first round of the NHL Draft.
"I was so shocked," Seider said. "I didn't expect that. ... When you looked at some of the rankings I would say I'm always between 10 and 20, so [I] didn't expect to go that high."
Detroit GM Steve Yzerman told the Red Wings website that he explored trading down a bit and still getting Seider, but when those options didn't pan out he opted for a player he believes is one of the top defensemen in the draft.
"We think he has excellent hockey sense," Yzerman said. "Obviously he's a big kid, 6-foot-3, a real good skater. ... I know our fans don't know much about him, but I think when people come to development camp and see him move, Google him, watch him play a little bit, I think they'll be pleasantly surprised."
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