The 2019 NHL Draft has two names mentioned at the top of it more than any other. Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko are the consensuses picks but if you pick slightly below that or even in the #1 or #2 spots should one of them be your pick?
The Anaheim Ducks have had a rough 2018-19′ season. And with the almost certain specter of no playoffs on Katella Ave this spring Ducks fans need to turn their attention and excitement to the draft this summer. The Ducks have already traded Brandon Montour to the Buffalo Sabres to clear cap space and received a first round pick that could be #20 overall in the first round. But the Ducks own their own pick as well in the first round that could be in the top 5 with where they sit in the standings right now. So with that what should the Ducks do with their top 5 overall pick?
The answer to that is draft Kirby Dach. Kirby Dach is currently a center for the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL. Dach is a 6’4″ almost 200-pound center who has been lighting up the scoreboard on a pretty consistent basis. Currently, he has played 54 games for the Blades and his line reads; 22-39-61. On top of that, he is a +9 on the season which means he is just as good in his own end as he is in the offensive zone.
Those numbers are good for third most on the team and in the top thirty for points in the WHL as a whole. And that is for a kid who is only 18 years old. Dach has played for the Blades for 2 and a half years and he has taken a huge jump forward this season. Last season his goal total was 7 and this year he is already up to 22. Dach is currently ranked #8 by hockeyprospects.com and was ranked #2 in the NHL Central Scouting Mid-Term rankings for North American skaters.
The Ducks could absolutely get Dach if they pick in the Top 5 especially if the teams ahead of them fall in love with Hughes and Kappo. And the Ducks would get a huge piece for the present and future in Dach.
Why Should the Ducks Draft Him?
The current face of the Ducks franchise is Ryan Getzlaf. He is a big bodied center that can take over the game and makes his linemates better. But his days in Anaheim are numbered as he will most likely retire at the duration of his contract. The likes of Ryan Kesler will most likely follow suit and Adam Henrique though a good player is not the face of a franchise. Same Steel seems to be up and coming and could be a good 2C but the Ducks need a bonafide stud down the middle they can build around. Enter Kirby Dach.
Dach is only 18 and being able to draft him and have him play behind the likes of the players mentioned above is huge. He can learn the NHL game and what it takes to compete and succeed in a lower stress level position until he is ready 2-3 years down the road. It allows the Ducks to not throw him right into the fire but still get him into the league and learn the NHL game. Not the AHL, the real deal where he can make mistakes and then succeed.
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The Ducks need to get faster but like big bodied forwards and center is a position where this is needed more than a wing. Dach is already the same height or taller than Getzlaf, Kesler, and Henrique and about the same weight as Kesler and Henrique. He is only going to get a little bigger and could be a physically imposing player with the likes of Max Jones on his line and maybe Ondrej Kase or Daniel Sprong to add more speed.
Add him to the likes of Jones, Steel, Troy Terry, Max Comtois etc and this guy could be a huge part of the new wave and new era of Ducks hockey in Anaheim. Dach played in the under 17 challenge in 2017 for Canada and this is what scouts had to say about him;
"Great combination of size, strength and puck skills … ‘offence first’ mentality … soft hands… good puck pursuit … quick stick … finds available ice"
This sound like the perfect pivot for the Ducks and one that seems to have rounded out his whole game. As shown above his +/- shows he has cleaned up play in his own end and can score just as well as facilitate. All draft picks are a bit of a risk to see if their game will carry over to the next level. But the Ducks have shown a knack for finding great talent anywhere they draft. This draft is one of the biggest in recent memory for the Ducks.
With the season they have had, the need to re-tool, and two picks in the first 20 potentially they need to get this draft right. The Ducks have that opportunity here and Dach can be the player that gets it rolling. As one franchise player leaves you need the next one to enter. And it may line up perfectly that Dach can play behind Getzlaf and help him to a Cup at the end of his career, just as Getzlaf can groom Dach to one day take his place.