NHL Prospect Profile: Kaeden Korczak

Kaeden Korczak of the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets is a sturdy, minute-munching defender, and one of the best eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft.

– Kaeden Korczak –

Kelowna Rockets (WHL) | Defence | 2019 NHL Draft Eligible

Yorkton, Saskatchewan | Jan. 29th, 2001 | 6-foot-3, 195-pounds

The Kelowna Rockets have drafted and developed a number of the NHL’s best defencemen over the years, and have shown no desire to slow down of late.

Throughout their franchise history all of Tyson Barrie, Duncan Keith, Josh Morrissey and Tyler Myers have passed through the Rockets’ program en route to substantial and successful NHL careers. Now, in 2018-19, it is Kaeden Korczak’s time to follow suit.

As one of the best all-around defenders eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft, Korczak’s steady play and immense potential have long drawn the eyes of scouts throughout North America. Although he will need to improve particular aspects of his game, Korczak will surely stand as one of his draft class’s top defenders come draft day in Vancouver.

Strengths:

  • Defensive Awareness
  • Intelligence
  • Physicality
  • Mobility

Given the strength of Korczak’s overall approach, let’s take a moment to dissect his play and analyze specific aspects within his growing game.

First and foremost there is Korczak’s play within his defensive zone. Capable of feeling the pressure applied by his opponents and navigating within it, Korczak is calculated in his decision making and is rarely forced into committing turnovers as a result. Well aware of the positioning of his teammates, Korczak thinks the play at a rapid pace as it develops and can execute crisp, accurate breakout passes as result.

Related: 2019 NHL Draft Prospect Profiles

Tied directly to Korczak’s intelligent defensive play is the native of Yorkton, Saskatchewan’s raw physicality. Standing 6-foot-3 and 195-pounds, Korczak is an intimidating physical presence despite his young age who utilizes his growing size well. Capable of pinning attacking forwards against the boards before dislodging the puck, Korczak can dominate his opposition with ease and understands when it is necessary to do so.

Related: 2019 NHL Draft Rankings

Further amplifying Korczak’s strong defending is his skating mobility and agility. Although he would do well to improve his first step and explosiveness, Korczak can traverse the ice well and utilizes his edges well in order to track and smother attacking forwards. It is this impressive skating ability which has come to drive Korczak’s growing offensive game, as the youngster’s mobility allows him to straddle the opposing blue line while generating scoring opportunities in the process.

Weaknesses:

  • Acceleration
  • Shot Penetration

While there aren’t many weaknesses present within Korczak’s game, there are a few.

As mentioned above, Korczak’s foot speed and acceleration would do well to improve in the near future, and especially so before he makes the jump to the professional-level. Although he is a strong skater of excellent mobility, greater first-step strength and acceleration would create a greater gap between Korczak and his opponents on the offensive side of the puck while also affording the young defender with improved closing speed defensively.

Related: Canadian NHL Draft Profiles

In addition to his acceleration and explosiveness, there is Korczak’s shot.

Although of ample velocity, Korczak needs to push the puck through traffic with greater consistency, as doing so would generate a number of rebounds and scoring chances for his team. In order to do so, Korczak will need to shorten the release of his shot and alter the angle of his lane upon release. Once able to pound the puck on goal with authority at even-strength, Korczak’s all-around game will be strengthened even more so through a newfound level of lethality from the point.

Future Potential:

In the long run, Korczak could very well become one of the best defencemen to emerge from the Rockets’ storied developmental program.

While his game isn’t flashy by any means, Korczak is as solid and dependable as defencemen come. A pure minute-munching defender capable of influencing the outcome of any given game at both ends of the ice, Korczak’s stellar physical play paired with his growing offensive talents will ensure he dominates his opposition regardless of their respective skill or creativity.

Ultimately, Korczak projects to develop into a sturdy top-four defenceman at the NHL-level capable of being utilized confidently in a variety of on-ice situations.

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2019 NHL Draft: Canada’s Top Early Performers

Although it’s only November, it’s time to check in on the best Canadian prospects eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft. In this article, we analyze three players who have impressed this season from each CHL league and check in on the Canadian Jr. A circuit.

Canada has proven time and time again to be a developmental powerhouse in the hockey world.

Consistently pumping out a number of the NHL’s youngest elite players, Canada and the many leagues within it serve as a significant gateway for future stars regardless of their country of origin. And, in 2018-19, exactly such is once again the case — the three leagues which comprise the Canadian Hockey League are saturated with highly skilled talent while the Junior A circuit features a handful of dynamic players as well.

Now, although the 2018-19 season remains young, a slew of players have already begun to separate themselves from their competition. Through consistent and lethal play, these particular prospects — which you will meet below– have enjoyed sensational starts to their first campaigns of NHL Draft eligibility.

Western Hockey League

The Top-3 Early Performers:

  • Kirby Dach (Saskatoon Blades)

Standing 6-foot-4 and 200-pounds, Kirby Dach is an intimidating force who features an explosive offensive skill set. A tremendous passer with exceptional vision, Dach also boasts an improving shot and innate instincts — a combination which makes him a presence each and every shift.

To begin the 2018-19 campaign, Dach wasted little time applying his versatile skill set. In his first 22 games played with the Saskatoon Blades, Dach had recorded 12 goals and added 23 assists for an impressive total of 35 points — the most of any WHL draft eligible forward.

  • Peyton Krebs (Kootenay ICE)

Although his standing within various NHL Draft rankings has fluctuated, Peyton Krebs remains as a constant attacking force for the Kootenay ICE. Standing slightly less than 6-feet tall, Krebs is a workhorse for the ICE and a tireless puck hound. Agile and creative, Krebs can weave through opposing defences and carve his way to the goal while in possession of the puck.

Despite a slightly slow start, Krebs has ramped up his offensive game. Mid-way through the month of November, Krebs had earned himself 27 points alongside six goals. Although his plus/minus rating of -17 left plenty to be desired, Krebs could develop into a strong attacking forward similar to Brayden Point of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

  • Bowen Byram (Vancouver Giants)

Bowen Byram could very well be the best defenceman eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft. Extremely mobile and confident, Byram can be utilized in a variety of situations and is a dominant force at even-strength.

At the half way point of the month of November, Byram had already collected six goals and 15 points alongside a respectable plus/minus rating of +3. As a driving force for the Giants, Byram has consistently displayed the ability to lead his team at both ends of the ice while logging major minutes in the process.

Honourable Mention:

  • Brett Leason (Prince Albert Raiders)

Although he is a 1999-born prospect, Brett Leason could be one of the most promising yet overlooked players available for the 2019 NHL Draft. With two average seasons of WHL play in-hand, Leason has exploded out of the gate to begin his 2018-19 season with 18 goals and 42 points in just 20 games played.

With great size given his 6-foot-4 frame and 205-pound weight, Leason could prove to be a hidden gem if drafted by an NHL franchise this coming June. Although he’ll surely need to develop within the professional ranks before being afforded a shot at the NHL-level, the native of Calgary, Alberta clearly boasts the skill-set of a legitimate NHL prospect.

Ontario Hockey League

The Top-3 Early Performers:

  • Arthur Kaliyev (Hamilton Bulldogs)

Not only is Arthur Kaliyev a smooth skating forward with a wicked shot, but he is also one of the most lethal offensive players in the OHL this season. As a natural goal-scorer, Kaliyev can beat goaltenders in a variety of ways but relies primarily on his heavy and devastating shot to do damage.

Kaliyev is a devastating offensive force who plays with remarkable consistency. (Photo Credit: Bandon Taylor)

With 17 goals and 32 points through his first 21 games played this season, Kaliyev has quickly established himself as a premier offensive player eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft. Rocketing his way up respective draft rankings and showing no signs of slowing down, Kaliyev could be a hidden gem within this year’s class.

  • Ryan Suzuki (Barrie Colts)

As the first overall choice in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection, it should come as no surprise to see Ryan Suzuki as a top performer early on this season. A dynamic playmaker who boasts terrific vision, Suzuki is a consistent threat who makes those around him better on a nightly basis.

Through his first 19 games played with the Colts this season, Suzuki had already accumulated 29 points — eight of which goals. If able to consistently dominate his opposition this season while further strengthening his defensive play, Suzuki could be chosen inside of the top-10 come the 2019 NHL Draft.

  • Thomas Harley (Mississauga Steelheads)

Although he began the 2018-19 OHL season as a relative unknown, Thomas Harley is quickly making a name for himself. A smooth and polished skater with oodles of confidence, Harley is becoming one of the OHL’s best puck-moving defenders despite his young age of just 17-years.

Harley is a smooth-skating defender of significant size who loves to contribute offensively. (Photo Credit: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

Having recorded 18 points through his first 21 games this season, Harley is proving that he can play a responsible two-way game against his opponent’s top attacking lines. Although his defensive game remains a work in progress, there is simply far too much to like with regards to Harley’s game to go unmentioned.

Honourable Mention:

  • Matthew Struthers (North Bay Battalion)

Although he was first eligible to be chosen in the 2018 NHL Draft, Matthew Struthers’ lethal play this season could lead to his selection in the 2019 NHL Draft. Of solid size given his 6-foot-2, 210-pound frame, Struthers is an intimidating force who has come to play a significant offensive role for the North Bay Battalion.

Having potted 12 goals and 27 points across his first 18 games played this season, Struthers has been remarkably consistent and endlessly potent. Playing alongside an incredibly dangerous teammate in Justin Brazeau, Struthers has become an offensive catalyst for the Battalion yet one capable of being utilized in a variety of situations. If able to maintain his current level of play, Struthers could very well be chosen in the upcoming NHL Draft.

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

The Top-3 Early Performers:

  • Nathan Legare (Baie-Comeau Drakkar)

Nathan Legare nearly topped his entire offensive output from his rookie season in October alone to begin the 2018-19 season. Blasting home 16 goals and 35 points in his first 23 games played this campaign, Legare has quickly cemented himself as a prospect to watch within the QMJHL this year.

Although long overlooked due to the presences of Jakob Pelletier and Raphael Lavoie, Legare has shed the shadow cast by his competition through competitive and consistent offensive play. A speedy and purposeful skater, Legare demands puck possession and has proven his ability to create lethal scoring chances in the blink of an eye.

  • Jakob Pelletier (Moncton Wildcats)

As the third-overall selection in the 2017 QMJHL Entry Draft, Jakob Pelletier has long been a prospect of immense potential. Fortunately for Pelletier, he is quickly living up to the expectations placed upon him — the Quebec City, Quebec native netted 11 goals and 30 points in his first 20 games played this season.

Incredibly quick, agile, and decisive, Pelletier is a tireless force who loves to attain both personal and team success. Not one to take a night off, Pelletier has come to drive Moncton’s offensive game and is now relied upon by his coaches and teammates to do exactly such. Although somewhat undersized, the punch which Pelletier packs in unquestionable.

  • Raphael Lavoie (Halifax Mooseheads)

In addition to Dach, Raphael Lavoie could be one of the 2019 NHL Draft class’ best power forwards. Standing 6-foot-4 and 200-pounds, Lavoie is an intimidating threat who also plays a consistent offensive game. In fact, Lavoie recorded 12 goals and 22 points through his first 20 games played this season.

What separates Lavoie from most power forwards, however, is his long yet smooth and efficient stride. Despite his lanky frame, Lavoie is a fantastic skater with breakaway speed and the agility necessary to operate deep within the offensive zone. As a late 2000 birth date, Lavoie is one of the oldest yet most NHL ready players eligible for the upcoming NHL Draft.

Canadian Jr. A

The Top-3 Early Performers:

  • Alex Newhook (Victoria Grizzlies)

Long the primary player to watch within the Canadian Jr. A circuit this season, Alex Newhook has wasted little time in establishing himself as a top NHL prospect early on this season. Skating in his second campaign with the Victoria Grizzlies of the BCHL, Newhook has already netted 12 goals and a whopping 36 points in his first 24 games played.

Committed to Boston College for the 2019-20 season, Newhook is an explosive and extremely dynamic forward capable of driving his team’s offensive game. As a fluid skater of ample speed and agility, Newhook is endlessly crafty and is most lethal when the puck is on his stick.

  • Harrison Blaisdell (Chilliwack Chiefs)

A second year player with the Chilliwack Chiefs of the BCHL, Harrison Blaisdell is quietly piecing together a strong sophomore season. Committed to the University of North Dakota for the 2020-21 campaign, Blaisdell has been a model of consistency thus far in 2018-19 — recording 15 goals and 27 points across his first 25 games played.

Although of a slightly smaller stature, Blaisdell has become a lethal offensive force for the Chiefs. As a versatile offensive player, Blaisdell can move the puck to his teammates with relative ease or uncork a crisp and accurate shot on goal.

  • Eric Ciccolini (Toronto Jr. Canadiens)

The Toronto Jr. Canadiens are off to a hot start to begin their 2018-19 OJHL season, however, said success would not have been possible without the play of Eric Ciccolini. Headed to Colgate University for the 2020-21 season, Ciccolini has quickly become a devastating attacker for his team.

Having collected 14 goals and 36 points through his team’s first 24 games, Ciccolini led the Jr. Canadiens with absolute authority. As a solid skater with exceptional puck-handling abilities, Ciccolini is a creative skater who can generate quality scoring opportunities off of the rush or via the cycle game.

NHL Prospect Profile: Nolan Foote

Nolan Foote is heading into his third WHL season in ’18-19. A powerful, goal-scoring winger, Foote has totalled 32 goals and 75 points in 102 games with the Rockets. Foote appears to be a lock for the 1st round of the 2019 NHL Draft.

– Nolan Foote –

Kelowna Rockets (WHL) | Left Wing | 2019 NHL Draft Eligible

Denver, Colorado, USA | November 29, 2000 | 6-foot-3, 187-pounds

Heading into the 2017-18 season, Nolan Foote was regarded has a sure top-3 pick for the 2019 NHL Draft. As a late 2000-born prospect, Foote had already played his rookie season as one of the youngest players in the WHL, racking up 19 goals and 35 points in 52 games. His electric shot and understanding of the game were extremely impressive as a 16-year-old.

However, after putting up 13 goals and 40 points in his sophomore season, the hype surrounding Foote has substantially quieted. As a result of Foote’s failure to make major increases in his numbers in ’17-18, the projections of his NHL future vary greatly. Of course, this coming season will serve as a major measuring stick for his draft stock.

Strengths:

  • Hockey Sense
  • Shot
  • Competitiveness

Nolan Foote has tremendous size and strength, which played a huge role in allowing him to seamlessly adapt to the WHL in his rookie season. Foote has an excellent sense of the game, reading developing plays and reacting appropriately. His greatest strength comes from his shot, which is quick, powerful, and accurate. Foote came into the league as a shoot-first player, but seemed to shy away from that in ’17-18.

In his sophomore year, Foote’s shooting percentage sat at 10%, a fairly average number which exhibits that he could still be shooting more often. Foote is also a highly competitive player with a motor that rarely slows down. He battles hard for loose pucks and isn’t afraid to use his body in board battles. Further, Foote has above average hands and can make one-on-one moves in tight with the puck.

Weaknesses:

  • Skating

Of all the traits which could potentially hamper Foote’s progression towards the NHL, it would be his average skating abilities. It isn’t necessarily a weakness, but Foote could certainly add some more speed and agility to his game. This would allow him to rush the puck with more success and be able to handle the puck better at top speeds.

For now, Foote generally finds his success as the trigger-man off of the half wall. A more effective stride would enable Foote to add another element to his game, as well as to improve his 200-foot game. This will be an aware that scouts will key in on during the 2018-19 season as they predict his potential at the NHL level.

Future Potential:

Nolan Foote projects to be a top-six winger at the NHL level. While his goal-scoring ability and overall offensive potential remain intriguing, his skating definitely needs improvement in order to become an effective professional player. Foote plays a comparable game to Jake DeBrusk of the Boston Bruins. Heading into the ’18-19 season, Foote looks like a Top-20 pick for the 2019 NHL Draft.

NHL Prospect Profile: Matthew Robertson

Matthew Robertson is the definition of an all-around defenceman. He is a menace in his own end as well as an offensive threat on the rush and from the blueline. Robertson is expected to be a top-20 pick at the 2019 NHL Draft.

– Matthew Robertson –

Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL) | Left Defence | 2019 NHL Draft Eligible

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada | March 9, 2001 | 6-foot-3, 201-pounds

Matthew Robertson is an uber-talented, two-way defenceman who has no true flaws to his game. He’s shown elite abilities to play a responsible, yet dynamic game at both ends of the rink, as well as on the penalty kill and power play. Robertson racked up seven goals and 24 points in 67 games with the Oil Kings in ’17-18. Those marks ranked first and second respectively among U17 defenders in the WHL.

Robertson has wowed scouts with his combination of smooth skating and puck-moving abilities. His play has earned him plenty of international experience with Canada, including both the U17 and U18 tournaments in 2017-18, as well as the Hlinka Gretzky Cup this past August, where he was one of the team’s most relied upon defencemen.

Strengths:

  • Skating
  • Two-Way Play
  • Sense and Vision

Matthew Robertson is a smooth skater with great lower-body strength. He is tough to knock off the puck and can reach impressive top speeds for a defender of his size. He utilizes his skating ability as as yet another option in breaking the puck out of his end. Robertson can safely make a long pass, chip, or rush the puck through the neutral zone himself.

In fact, his two-way play is one of the greatest upsides to his game. Robertson has excellent offensive instincts and a solid shot from the point. He makes smart decisions as to when to throw a puck on net for a deflection or rebound, and when to unleash a booming shot through traffic. Expect Robertson to be push a point-per-game rate with the Oil Kings this year.

Weaknesses:

  • Defensive Positioning

There aren’t any true flaws to Robertson’s game. He’s an all-around defenceman who can play any situation with success. With that said, if there’s an area that could use some maturation on his path towards the NHL, it would be defensive positioning. Robertson is very reliable in his own end and makes smart decisions to break the puck out.

However, there are a few times where Robertson loses his man in front of or beside the net. He is always on the hunt for the puck and has a desire to limit the opponent’s puck possession. As such, he sometimes leaves his post and chases the puck out of his territory. This can leave a man wide-open in front of the net. If Robertson can solidify this aspect of his defensive game, he would be considered a flawless prospect.

Future Potential:

Matthew Robertson projects as a probable top-four defenceman, with top-pairing and powerplay potential at the NHL level. He is a player who can be relied upon in any situation, both as a shut-down or an offensive defenceman. Heading into his draft year campaign, Robertson forecasts as a Top-20 pick at the 2019 NHL Draft.

NHL Prospect Profile: Peyton Krebs

Peyton Krebs possesses all the tools that coaches dream of, strong skating, excellent playmaking, and responsible two-way play. He is trusted in all situations, and won’t last long at the 2019 NHL Draft for those reasons.

– Peyton Krebs –

Kootenay Ice (WHL) | Left Wing/Center | 2019 NHL Draft Eligible

Okotoks, Alberta, Canada | January 26, 2001 | 5-foot-11, 181-pounds

Peyton Krebs was the 1st overall pick in a stacked 2016 WHL Bantam Draft, and remains the top player of the 2001-born group from the ‘Dub’ two years later. Piling up 17 goals and 54 points over 67 games for the Ice last year, Krebs was often the most dangerous forward on an improving Kootenay team. His point totals led all U17 players in the WHL in ’17-18.

Krebs is a primarily a playmaker in the offensive zone, but also boasts a very responsible two-way game. In August, Krebs qiuckly became a leader for Team Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Cup, both on and off the ice, in pursuit of a gold medal.

Strengths:

  • Skating
  • Playmaking
  • Two-Way Play

Peyton Krebs is a five-tool player who can burn opponents in all assets of the game. Offensively, he is a gifted playmaker who can stick handle in a phone booth and dish passes through all kinds of traffic. He reaches impressive top speeds and utilizes great edgework to remain agile at all times.

Peyton Krebs is a reliable two-way player as well as a leader on and off the ice in Kootenay.

Krebs can also reliably play down the middle, back-checking hard to support his defencemen and using a smart stick to take away passing lanes and break up plays. He showcases tremendous awareness at both ends of the ice through his ability to find teammates as well as to position himself in the most effective area.

Weaknesses:

  • Dynamic Scoring Ability

While Peyton Krebs’ 17 goals are nothing to turn your head at, he certainly has room to improve in his innate goal-scoring ability. As earlier mentioned, Krebs is a pass-first type of player, due to his excellent vision which allows his to see passing lanes that others cannot.

With that said, Krebs’ shot is not yet powerful enough to be regarded as elite. Perhaps with the added strength that will come with continued training, his shot will get there, but at this time, it remains an area for improvement. In any case, as Kootenay continues to build a stronger roster for 2018-19, it would be a safe bet to assume his goal totals will increase significantly this year.

Future Potential:

Peyton Krebs forecasts as a potential top-line winger at the NHL level. While his defensive game is strong enough to play center, he’s likely better suited to stick on the wing to maximize his offensive potential. Comparables include Brayden Point and Josh Bailey. Heading into the ’18-19 season, Krebs projects to be a Top-5 pick at the 2019 NHL Draft.

NHL Prospect Profile: Bowen Byram

A smooth skating defenceman who can join the rush offensively as well, Bowen Byram is poised for a huge year with the Vancouver Giants and projects to be a top-10 pick at the 2019 NHL Draft.

– Bowen Byram –

Vancouver Giants (WHL) | Left Defence | 2019 NHL Draft Eligible

Cranbrook, British Columbia, Canada | June 13, 2001 | 6-foot-1, 191-pounds

Bowen Byram is a reliable, minute-munching defenceman who can be trusted to play in all situations, in all three zones. He skates incredibly well and loves to transition the game from defence to offence. He has the confidence to join the rush and earned some powerplay time with the Giants in 2017-18 as well, totalling six goals and 27 points in 60 games.

On the defensive side, Byram is an efficient player who maintains tight gaps along the wall and uses smart stick and body positioning to force opponents into the corners. Bowen played an imperative role on Team Canada’s top-pairing at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, where he played at a point-per-game clip.

Strengths:

  • Skating
  • Two-Way Play
  • Transitioning

Byram is a relentless skater and a hound on the puck in all three zones. Most significantly, he remains very quick and agile when skating backwards, allowing him to retreat to his position even after pinching into the play. A smooth and effortless skater, Byram utilizes this ability to play an effective two-way game. He is not afraid to jump into the rush to create odd-man rushes and generate scoring chances.

Bowen Byram was Canada’s top defenceman at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, leading his country to a gold medal. Photo credit – Chris Relke

On the back end, Byram’s mind is always on transitioning the play from the defensive zone to the offensive. He possesses a considerable amount of options to get the puck out of his zone, through slick passes, safe chips off the glass, or even rushing the puck through the neutral zone himself.

Weaknesses:

  • Positioning

Byram has a small tendency to get ahead of himself in the defensive zone, looking to transition the play before turning the puck over in the first place. He sometimes gets caught being aggressive in attempt to retrieve the puck, leaving himself out of position defensively. As well, Byram occasionally chases the puck away from his net-front position, leaving an opposing winger wide open.

Of course, this tendency is a result of an offensive mindset, but there are occasions where Byram needs to think defence-first in order to make the smart play and hold down the fort with responsible positioning. A small weakness which will certainly be corrected with maturity and coaching.

Future Potential:

Bowen Byram’s future in the NHL appears to forecast as a top-pairing, two-way defender who can chip in on the offensive side as well. He is an efficient transition player who moves the puck up ice with ease. Comparables include Morgan Rielly and Ryan Suter. Byram projects to be a Top-10 selection at the 2019 NHL Draft heading into the ’18-19 campaign.

NHL Prospect Profile: Kirby Dach

Kirby Dach of the Saskatoon Blades is a promising playmaking prospect who forecasts as a Top-10 pick for the 2019 NHL Draft.

– Kirby Dach –

Saskatoon Blades (WHL) | Center | 2019 NHL Draft Eligible

Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, Canada | January 21, 2001 | 6-foot-4, 198-pounds

Kirby Dach is a dynamic, playmaking power-forward who plays the game like a four-year veteran of the WHL. Chipping in seven goals and 46 points in 52 games for the Blades in 2017-18, Dach showcased an elite combination of skills which he boasts in all the zones of the ice.

Standing at 6-foot-4 as just a 17-year-old, it is easy to get excited about the potential within Dach, especially as he begins to fill out his frame. At the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, Dach quickly became an offensive catalyst on Canada’s first line, alongside Peyton Krebs and Alexis Lafrenière, landing third in team points.

Strengths:

  • Playmaking
  • Puck Handling
  • Size and Strength

Kirby Dach exhibits exceptional playmaking talents shift in, shift out. He sees the ice very well and can predict where his teammates and opponents will be, one-step ahead of the game. This, combined with incredible puck skills, have allowed Dach to be a perennial leader his assists at every level in his career. He can almost always find a passing lane that no one else in the rink can see.

Factor in Dach’s size and strength and you get a grinding menace to defend in the offensive zone. He protects the puck with his lower-body strength and cycles the puck admirably, creating extra time for his teammates to find open space in front of the net.

Weaknesses:

  • Speed

A common theme among tall teenage players is a lacklustre skating ability. This stereotype can also be applied to Dach as well, whose top speed limits him from being an offensive machine. As he continues to grow and fill out his frame, Dach will need to find an extra gear which would allow him to blow by defenders, if he truly wants to be an elite center at the NHL level. He also needs to work on his faceoff abilities if he wants to be relied upon in all situations, as he won just 41.1% of draws in the ’17-18 season.

Future Potential:

Kirby Dach estimates to slot into a second-line center role at the NHL level for the time being. However, should his skating and faceoff abilities improve, he could certainly push the conversation as a first-line player. His playmaking abilities will always set him apart from competition. Comparables include Ryan Getzlaf and Niklas Backstrom. Heading into his NHL Draft eligible season, Dach currently projects as a Top-10 pick for 2019.

NHL Prospect Profile: Dylan Cozens

Big, skilled, and driven, Dylan Cozens of the Lethbridge Hurricanes has all the makings of a prototypical power-forward.

– Dylan Cozens –

Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL) | Center | 2019 NHL Draft Eligible

Whitehorse, Yukon | February 9, 2001 | 6-foot-3, 176-pounds

Dylan Cozens represents the top 2019 NHL Draft prospect from Canada heading into the 2018-19 season. Further to the point, he is on a path to play the most NHL games of any Yukon born player, if he can play more than six career games.

Cozens played his way to the top points-per-game rate among 2019 prospects in the WHL during the ’16-17 campaign, racking up 22 goals and 53 points in 57 games, numbers good enough to capture the WHL Rookie of the Year. For comparison, Cozens’ 0.93 points-per-game rate ranks higher than Mathew Barzal’s and Sam Steel’s during their rookie years. Cozens recently played an imperative role towards Team Canada’s Gold Medal performance at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup.

Strengths:

  • Hockey Sense
  • Skating
  • Two-Way Play

Dylan Cozens is one of few 17-year-olds who understand the true importance of a 200-foot game. Sure, the phrase is often overused, but in Cozens’ case, it is completely warranted. He is regularly utilized on the penalty kill and in defensive zone faceoffs, and can often be found breaking up several scoring chances each game.

Dylan Cozens led all WHL rookies with 57 points in 2017-18, en route to capturing Rookie of the Year honours. Photo credit – Erica Perreaux

As well, despite already being 6-foot-3, Cozens can skate like the wind. He exhibits excellent agility and can handle the puck with grace at top speed. He is effective at driving wide through the offensive zone before cutting in front of the net. Further, Cozens clearly thinks the game with the best of them, with an innate sense of positioning and a tremendous vision of the developing play around him.

Weaknesses:

  • Strength

At just 17 years of age, Cozens naturally has plenty of time to fill out his frame, but he remains somewhat of a lanky kid at this point. While his weight and strength has yet to slow him down at any level, some added muscle would no doubt go a long way to Cozens developing into a true power forward at the NHL level. If he gets become a stronger skater and harder to knock off the puck, Cozens will be an all-around force to be reckoned with, and should have no problems transitioning into the professional level.

Future Potential:

Dylan Cozens has all the tools to become an effective first-line center that can be relied upon in all situations. He consistently generates offence, but is also able to limit the opponent’s ability to produce scoring chances. Comparables include Leon Draisaitl and Brayden Point. Cozens currently projects to be a top-5 pick at the 2019 NHL Draft.