Photo Credit: Steve Hiscock / Saskatoon Blades
Scouting Report written by Josh Tessler
Colton Dach is a 2021 NHL Draft eligible prospect, who plays for the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades. He grew up in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta (an Edmonton, Alberta suburb). Dach’s brother is Chicago Blackhawks forward Kirby Dach and his sister is Sherwood Park Royals defenseman Callie Dach. Dach’s parents are Dale and Hilary Dach. Dale Dach had played collegiate hockey at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology Oaks in the 1990s.
Scott Wheeler from The Athletic spoke to the Dach family last month and wrote an exceptional piece that talked about the competitive rivalry that the siblings have. It’s a great read. Subscription needed.
Colton played youth hockey for the Fort Saskatchewan Rangers and Okanagan Hockey Academy. He played alongside quite a few 2021 NHL Draft eligible prospects and drafted NHL prospects including Olen Zellweger (2021), Sean Tschigerl (2021), Drew Sim (2021), Kyle Masters (2021), Corson Ceulemans (2021), Owen Pederson (2021), Oscar Plandowski (2021), Cole Dubinsky (2021), Kaiden Guhle (Montréal) and Sebastian Cossa (2021).
Dach was drafted sixth overall in the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft by Saskatoon and made his WHL debut in his 2019-2020 season. This past season (2020-2021), he played in 20 games for the Blades and was a point per game player. He finished the abridged season (due to COVID-19) with 11 goals and nine assists.
D.O.B – January 4, 2003
Nationality – Canada
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Weight –205 lbs
Position – Center/Left Wing/Right Wing
Handedness – Left
Dach’s Style Of Play
This past season, the Saskatoon Blades have deployed Dach at Center, Left Wing and Right Wing. He spent the majority of the time at Right Wing alongside Kyle Crnkovic and Tristen Robins (San Jose Sharks prospect). But towards the end of the season, he did play in two consecutive games at Center and was paired with Crnkovic and Caiden Daley.
Even though Dach can be versatile, don’t worry about positioning. Dach has showcased excellent positioning. When there is a puck battle close to the corner and possession shifts towards the point, Dach will go to the initial spot to offer a passing lane for the puck carrier who is still facing pressure along the boards. In general, he likes to sit net-front and exert strength to push out the defender covering and shield the net. The Blades will often line Dach up at Left Wing on face-off draws on the right side (and vice-versa on the left side) on the power play, so he can quickly go to the slot. While he does have an affinity to go to net-front, that doesn’t mean that he goes there in autopilot every shift. When being paired with Tristen Robins, there are situations where Robins is skating through the neutral zone, completes a zone entry and skates towards the right side of the ice in the offensive zone, when Dach sees that he goes left to offer a passing lane on the left for his teammate.
Dach’s stick-handling needs to grow a tad. Sometimes he will struggle with consistency. But, Dach does possess great stick-handling when getting around two attackers who are deploying tight pressure. He keeps the puck secure. Dach will lure the attacker in by pushing the puck towards him. Afterwards, he brings the puck back closer to him and Dach manages to swerve the puck around the attacker when the attacker looks to close in. In addition, Dach does an excellent job of throwing the puck behind him when moving the puck along the boards and looking to shake off the attacker down low. Yet, he does display inconsistencies with puck security and will bobble pucks at times in the offensive zone.
When on the forecheck, Dach has quality reaction timing to stay aligned with the puck-carrier when on the forecheck. Skates in-line. If he goes in for a check, he will widen his stance at first to make you feel trapped and pushes forward with his gloves to place the attacker firmly against the boards, then Dach extends his stick towards the puck. While he does possess strong physicality at times, I would like to see more consistency. There are shifts where he tends to be more physical than others. Some of that can be attributed to foot speed issues and those foot speed issues become more apparent when forechecking at open ice. He will struggle at times to gain the necessary acceleration to put quality pressure at open ice.
When fending off the back-check, Dach needs to work on using his size to counteract the back-check when the back-check gets rather physical. He needs to use his upper-body strength to push the attacker back.
Dach has a quality shot. He deploys excellent weight transfer on his snap shots from range and that has led to primary assists on a deflection goal. Dach can be pretty deceptive with his shot too. At times, he will collect a pass in the offensive zone in the slot, bu he will collect the pass with his back turned to the net. Once he turns forward, he immediately shoots and can deliver top shelf goals. In low danger situations, don’t be shocked if he tries backhand shots. In addition, he has a very quick release. Dach looks to shoot the puck right off the face-off draw and will net quality snap shot goal top shelf glove side goals like this one against Prince Albert.
The only issues with his shot are issues that a lot of junior players face. He will struggle at times with shooting accuracy off the rush and sometimes he will take shots from low danger when he has a clear path to net-front.
Dach is an excellent tape-to-tape passer. He will feed one-timer passes to the slot with ease. Dach will sometimes drop to the corners to grab loose pucks and send a one-timer pass to a teammate in medium danger. He can deliver quality cross-ice passes and even execute backhand cross-ice passes. For instance, he completed this backhand dangerous pass to Kyle Crnkovic at net-front for a primary assist on March 13, 2021 against Swift Current. Dach was driving up the wing.
While he does find a lot of success in his passing, he doesn’t attempt a lot of passes to the slot. Per InStat Hockey, in 20 games played this past season, he had eight pass attempts to the slot.
In the offensive zone, we see Dach deploy quality reaction timing and we see the same in the defensive zone. He has displayed good reaction timing to stay aligned with the puck-carrier when on the back check. Skates in-line with the attacker. When covering the point and looking to restrict shooting lanes, he will lower himself to his knees to take up more space and thus restricts shooting lanes for the defender at the point with the puck. Even when he looses his stick, he will still lower himself and his knees for shot blocks when covering the point. When Dach is deployed at wing, he will get involved in puck battles along the boards. He also won’t get out of position very often. If the attack has shifted to the other side, he’ll plant himself in the slot and won’t go too far in.
You will see Dach struggle at times when on the penalty kill and/or in situations where he has to cover multiple attackers in the defensive zone. He doesn’t have the foot speed to react to changes in puck movement. Dach does have the ability to implement good reaction timing when facing an attacker dead on a one-on-one back check, but not when looking to cover multiple attackers.
His acceleration also needs to be addressed, so that he can be slightly faster to loose pucks. Sometimes he will lose loose puck battles and that has to do with his foot speed.
From a physicality perspective, he will leans in with the shoulder when making contact along the boards. Dach won’t shy away from open ice hits in the defensive zone and in the neutral zone, but he is slightly less physical in the defensive zone.
Due to his skating speed, he will sometimes be late to the rush and skate up behind the rush. Yet, he does provide excellent pressure even when coming behind the puck carrier in the neutral zone. Has excellent reach to strip the puck away from the attacker mid-rush. However, sometimes, on the flip side, he will struggle with his reach to grab a hold of passes coming towards him but aren’t clean tape-to-tape feeds.
When he knows that he can’t get in position to shut down the rush dead on, you can expect him to extend his stick out wide to force dump-ins. While he does extend his stick out, more often than not, the attack can outplay the stick extension.
But, in the situations in which he can garner the necessary speed to battle, once he catches up to the puck carrier in the neutral zone, he can stay toe-to-toe, uses his body and deploys trap defense. When deploying a check on a puck carrier, he will lean in with his shoulder.
From an offensive rush perspective, he won’t normally go zone-to-zone with the puck, instead he will usually capture possession of a loose puck or a pass and carry the puck in. Dach looks to find gaps in the neutral zone to offer a passing lane to the puck carrier near the offensive blue line.
As we talked about throughout the report, Dach has some acceleration issues. He doesn’t possess explosive acceleration and that has become evident on the forecheck, back-check and in neutral zone defensive play. A lot of the speed issues can be chalked up to his stride. Dach doesn’t have a true power stride and struggles with ankle flexion. Also, he’s got a bit of a heavy foot stride. I’ve also noticed that his crossovers don’t provide him with the acceleration that he needs. Dach will try to implement crossovers when on the rush, but they help him steer instead of provide speed. He will use crossovers to shift himself from left to right in the neutral zone but doesn’t have the ability to really push off them.
His edges and pivots need slightly more refinement. His edges aren’t smooth. But, they are effective depending on the attacker. In general, he has to exert a lot of lower body strength in order to turn his body. I’d like to see Dach work on quickly deploying inside edges especially when looking to assert pressure on the puck carrier in the neutral zone, especially in those situations in which he has to skate into the neutral zone and steer towards the attacker.
Top 9 Forward (NHL).
stats from InStat and EliteProspects
Prospect report written by Josh Tessler. If you would like to follow Josh on Twitter, his handle is @JoshTessler_.
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