As the 2019 NHL Entry Draft approaches, the Los Angeles Kings have their work cut out for them, including making decisions on two first-round picks: the fifth pick and the 22nd pick, thanks to the Toronto Maple Leafs. From now until the draft, the staff of Jewels from the Crown will be taking a look at some draft-eligible players to help introduce some young men who could very possibly be future Kings.
“With the fifth pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, the Los Angeles Kings select, from the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL, Kirby Dach.”
This could easily be what’s read from the main podium on June 21st. If this is the case, the Kings could be walking away with a quite a building block for its current Reset Plan (read; Rebuilding).
I mean, who doesn’t need a 6-foot-4 playmaking center? Certainly the Kings do. The Kings top three centers (Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, and Adrian Kempe) totaled only 121 points (47G, 74A) last season. For those keeping track at home, Nikita Kucherov tallied 128 points alone. Yes, indeed, the Kings need a playmaking center, especially with Carter rumored to be moving to wing next season under new coach Todd McLellan.
Long story short, Dach is big (actually huge by NHL standards), he’s tough with the puck and he handles it well in tight spaces. But, before we get into the strengths and weaknesses, let’s get the basics out of the way…
HOCKEY CARD STATS
Born: January 21, 2001 (Age 18)
Place of Birth: St. Albert, Alberta, Canada
Youth Team: Fort Saskatchewan MHA
Weight: 198 lbs.
2018-19 Season: Saskatoon Blades
Regular Season: 62 Games, 73 Points (25G, 48A), 40 PIM, +15
Playoffs: 10 Games, 8 Points (5G, 3A), 6 PIM, -1
#3—NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (North American Skaters)
Dach knows how to use his large body and his wingspan bodes well for advanced metrics that lead to doing the little things it takes to win. His along-the-wall game has improved over the last season as has his face-off ability.
Some say that his playing arc hasn’t grown as fast or as high as one might expect from a top five NHL prospect. His ceiling is said to be in the mid-range between a 1C and a 2C because he falls just short of “dynamic” in the key elements of consideration. One has to wonder out loud that if Jack Hughes wasn’t the number one center in this draft if his numbers wouldn’t be higher.
From my eyes, playing with Kopitar and being coached by McLellan would only fortify his spot as a big center who should evolve into a Selke-type forward with all the tools to be a top-notch playmaker in the NHL. He has great ice vision and his offensive zone creativity has almost no parallel at his peer level.
It’s been said that Dach isn’t going to overwhelm you or make your jaw drop on a consistent basis. I know the Kings are in the entertainment capital of the world, but honestly, this type of player isn’t needed here. What the Kings need is a two-way center who can evolve into a certain kind of specialness that you get from a player that is technically sound and coached well. That being said, at 6-foot-4, you’d expect him to be more physical and not rely on aggressive stick work to break up plays.
Dach’s face-offs ability needs to improve. A summer with former King Jarret Stoll could solve that in a hurry and he needs to because in order for him to be a shutdown center he must be reliable inside the dot to fulfill his true prospect.
He received high marks when he does decide to drive to the net. However, he doesn’t do it nearly enough. He needs to do it more often and that is vital in the new NHL where doing the dirty work around the net gets you onto to NHL All Star Teams.
Everyone loves him. Take this fluff piece from the Saskatoon StarPhoenix:
My takeaways? He gets bashed locally for not playing D, but his captain is there to tell you different, AND, he could grow a playoff mustache, but I am unsure about the beard part.