Beyond the top two picks, the first round of this year's NHL Draft figures to be as unpredictable as ever.
Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko, in some order, will almost certainly be the first two players off the board on June 21. After that, the consensus seems to be that it's a deep first round with a fairly wide range of players who could fall in the top 10.
Having said that, it's important to cast a wide net when trying to predict who the Sabres might select with the seventh overall selection. Today, we'll look at Saskatoon center Kirby Dach.
Kirby Dach, C - Saskatoon Blades (WHL)
Video: 1-on-1 with Kirby Dach
Dach offers a unique blend of size, skill and hockey IQ at the center position. He's 6-foot-4, 197 pounds and has been lauded by scouts for his playmaking vision and passing ability.
Dach kicked off last season with a gold medal at the Hilinka Gretzky Cup, where he tallied seven points (1+6) in seven games. He then scored 73 points (25+48) in 62 games with Saskatoon, numbers that were mired by a seven-game scoring drought in December.
"I kind of hit the ground running with the Hlinka Gretzky tournament in August and then I was able to kind of have a head start in junior this year that way," he said. "It kind of caught up to me mid-December. It's not like I was playing wrong or doing the wrong things, I just wasn't getting any puck luck or good bounces around the net. I was still doing the right things away from the puck."
What he's saying
On his biggest strength: "I think I'm a great 200-foot player who can kind of see the ice really well and see plays develop before they happen. That's just something I've noticed playing at the junior level."
On what he learned from his scoring drought in December: "I think it kind of grows and develops your maturity as a young player in the game. I mean, I know how good I can be every night. I want to be able to bring that level of consistency. To learn that early on in my career has been good."
What they're saying
NHL.com's Guillaume Lepage, who has the Sabres selecting in his latest mock draft: "Here is a big power forward who would strengthen the Sabres down the middle. Dach not only brings size but plays at a high speed and has good touch around the net."
NHL.com's Mike Morreale: "He covers the ice well with his smarts and vision and brings a little bit of a nasty streak to his game. The right-hand shot has good size, strength, playmaking ability, maturity, and is a legitimate offensive threat each time he has the puck."
Why he could be selected at 7
The Sabres will take the best player available on their board regardless of position, but adding to organizational depth down the middle is never a bad thing.
There could be multiple choices at center, with Alex Turcotte (who we featured on Tuesday) and Dylan Cozens (who we'll talk about tomorrow) also regarded as potential top-10 picks. Of that trio, Dach's combination of size and skill makes him a unique option.