9- Kirby Dach-C-Saskatoon (WHL)
Kirby Dach isn’t the flashiest prospect in the draft, standing 6’4 and a lanky 200lbs, Dach isn’t the fastest prospect, he doesn’t have the best hands or the best shot. But total package wise he might be one of the most consistently good players to come out of this draft if he reaches his potential.
It’s no mistake that any time you hear Kirby Dach brought up, the first name as a comparison is Ryan Getzlaf. It’s not hard to see why, and Dach himself has said he modeled his game after the Anaheim Ducks centerman.
Dach isn’t going to win you style points often but that’s not his job, his job is to get results and get the puck on the stick of goal-scorers and he does it exceptionally well. He shares a lot of the same strengths as Getzlaf has, however, there are some concerns over his play in the defensive zone.
While he’s not opposed to using his size, he doesn’t quite use it enough which is not exactly a red-flag for an 18-year-old who is still likely to add another 10-15 pounds which will enable him to use his body more (which will help in the offensive and defensive zones.)
8- Dylan Cozens-C-Lethbridge (WHL)
Dylan Cozens is a similar size to Kirby Dach, standing roughly 6’3 and 180lbs. Cozens could benfit from putting on a few pounds, as one of his weaker points is his ability to stave off pressure when carrying the puck. While Dach is a pass-first guy, Cozens has a bit more of a shoot first tendency.
He moves very quickly for a player of his size and uses that speed and some impressive agility to create open space where none should be available. Cozens is also a better 3 zone player than Dach as his defensive ability (aided immensely by his skating ability) is great and could find himself cut from the same cloth as a Ryan Kesler or Anze Kopitar.
Cozens has all the tools to be a key piece for a team moving forward, but like Dach, he doesn’t quite possess that “it” factor that makes him a dynamic, must-watch player, rather going about things in a more subtle way.
7- Trevor Zegras-C-USNTDP
Trevor Zegras is one of the more intriguing prospects in this draft to me. A smaller center standing 6’0 but an incredibly lanky 166lbs. Zegras plays a game much bigger than his stature, it wouldn’t be wrong to give Zegras the “pitbull” moniker that accompanies players. He pressures puck carriers and gets into scrums and battles hard for loose pucks.
He’s a great playmaker and has a good shot. His skating is top notch and might have the highest level of creativity out of anyone in the draft. He is never afraid to make plays that make you ask “why did he do that?” and more importantly, “how did he make it work?!”
Overall Zegras doesn’t have quite as high a ceiling as the players above him but he likely has a higher floor due to his creativity and his smarts.
6- Cole Caufield-RW-USNTDP
Cole Caufield is one of the fastest risers in the draft and it’s no secret that he is my personal favorite draftee and has been since the beginning of the season. He’s a diminutive player standing only 5’7, and what he lacks in size he more than makes up for with tenacity, creativity, and dynamic play.
While Caufield isn’t a top-notch defensive player, he doesn’t have to be. He’s adequate and you don’t draft a player like Caufield to be Patrice Bergeron, you draft him to score goals, and score goals he does.
He has an elite level shot, great skating ability, is not afraid to push for loose pucks and get into the dirty areas, and has great puckhandling ability. Caufield has all the potential in the world to be a 35+ goal scorer and be the highest goal scorer out of this draft. Caufield has game-breaking ability and will be a big-time fan favorite wherever he ends up.