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Saskatoon Blades forward Kirby Dach blends speed with finesse and size, making him a highly-coveted top-10 option at the 2019 NHL Draft

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - If there's one prediction for the 2019 NHL Draft, it's to expect the unexpected.

The 2018 edition of the event proved as much when Jesperi Kotkaniemi was drafted third-overall by the Montreal Canadiens and the Arizona Coyotes surprised many by selecting forward Barrett Hayton at No. 5. 

Those picks swayed from the consensus and inadvertently shook the draft board in the latter half of the top-10.

NHL Draft prognosticators and analysts alike try their best to anticipate the picks that will be made but in the end, it's the team who decides, often muddying mock drafts.

Video: COMBINE | Kirby Dach

The NHL Draft in Vancouver could play out to be an unpredictable one with the abundance of high-end talent featured in the class. And while many have locked up the first two overall selections - reserved for Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko, respectively - picks three through ten are a toss-up.

Saskatoon Blades centre Kirby Dach is projected to be chosen in that range but if he finds himself available when Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Ken Holland reaches the podium, the forward may not continue to slip.

Sportsnet Junior Hockey Broadcaster and prospect guru Sam Cosentino ranked Dach at No. 8 in his May prospect ranking, putting the St. Albert, AB, product in a position to play for his home province.

When elaborating on Dach, Cosentino compared the pivot's game to the style of play the 2019 Stanley Cup-winning St. Louis Blues employ - then furthered the notion by resembling him to Conn Smythe winner Ryan O'Reilly.

"I look at what's happened in the playoffs," Cosentino said at the NHL Scouting Combine. "A heavy team like St. Louis, does that put more of a premium on a guy like a Kirby Dach? Or you look at the speed game that enabled Washington to do what it did last year and does that elevate someone like Dylan Cozens?

"It becomes a copycat League and I think we tend to draft copycatting on what's happening in the League right now."

Dach was a driver for the Saskatoon Blades in the 2018-19 campaign, managing to score 25 goals and 73 points in 62 outings during the Western Hockey League regular season. In the playoffs, the 6-foot-4, 193-pounder added five markers and eight points in 10 matches, helping the Blades cut the Moose Jaw Warriors from the playoffs then take the Prince Albert Raiders to Game 6 before being eliminated themselves.

In true leader fashion - and similar to Blues middleman O'Reilly - Dach put the onus on himself to try and will his team through the postseason.

Video: COMBINE | Recap with Sam Cosentino

"Before playoffs, I kind of looked at myself in the mirror and said I want to try and find a new gear every night to help push my team through each round," Dach told 

"I think I was able to do that against Moose Jaw and coming in against Prince Albert, I knew I'd have to find an extra gear."

The 18-year-old Albertan is also a confident individual, admitting that he felt he was a step above the competition in the WHL.

"I'm a great 200-foot player and can see the ice really well," he said. "I can see plays develop before they happen and that's kind of something I've noticed playing at the junior level, that I'm a little more advanced than others."

Dach is also aware of what he needs to do in order to crack an NHL lineup in the next few seasons.

"I think just adding more size," he said. "You're in juniors, you're playing against boys still. There are men in the NHL and I got to put on more weight."

While there's no way of predicting how the 2019 Draft unfolds, should Dach fulfill his own prophecy as a skater, he could become a beastly power forward.

"I'll harken back to St. Louis and the way they play: big and heavy," said Cosentino. "The Ryan O'Reilly-type guys. He's kind of very much in the same vein of what Kirby Dach brings to the table. Now you're looking at speed, you're looking at skill but then you add that third element of size, and even seeing him here today, he's probably going to play 15 or 20 pounds heavier. 

"He's going to be a monster."

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