He's probably the best name to come along in the NHL draft since Wacey Rabbit, but Kootenay defenseman Jagger Dirk is quietly making a name for himself in the WHL.
If the last name sounds familiar, it's because his father, Robert Dirk, was a solid, dependable NHL defenseman who played more than 400 games for the Blues, Canucks, Blackhawks, Ducks and Canadiens in the late 80's through mid-90's.
The younger Dirk doesn't possess impressive size- listed at only around 6-feet and 180 pounds, but his pops played at 6-4, 210 so chances are, he hasn't quite finished growing, even though he'll likely top out at 6-1 or 6-2 if he isn't done. His skating is average-- unremarkable, but not flawed. He makes up for any perceived lack of jump or burst with good anticipation and on-ice judgment.
Dirk's game is all about smarts and positioning at this point. He's not a high-profile player who racks up a lot of points for the Ice, but uses body leverage and his stick to neutralize chances. His four goals and 15 points in 46 games is nothing to write home about, but this is a 17-year-old defender we're talking about. There could be some upside with this kid.
Red Line Report has Dirk 14th on their mid-season WHL prospects update, published in their January 2011 issue, and while Dirk doesn't look to be a guy you would take in the top-90, starting in Round 4, he could become an attractive option for any team looking for a potential minute-eater and mid-to-late round gem. RLR says he needs to improve his physicality, but as I recall when watching his dad, he wasn't a big hitter either-- just used his size and strength to rub opponents out or pin them along the boards. Strong defense isn't always about laying the big hits, and the junior Dirk appears to have a good feel for the defensive side of things and is a good teammate. Oh, and he'll drop the gloves, too-- always a bonus for those fans of "old time hockey".
If he were bigger, I would expect that Dirk would be higher in the rankings. Central didn't list him in their top-210 for mid-season, but then again, a year ago, they didn't have Dirk's Kootenay teammate, Joey Leach, anywhere on their mid-term list either, and by the final rankings, Leach was a big entry on their list. Leach went a lot higher to Calgary in the 2010 draft- 3rd round, 73rd overall. Central loves Portland D Tyler Wotherspoon, who is 33rd on their overall list, but other NHL scouting sources and even Red Line aren't huge fans of Wotherspoon and his lack of upside at this point- RLR has Wotherspoon just 19th on their WHL list- 106th overall.
Dirk is 74th overall on the RLR January rankings, which is probably higher than he'll go come June. But the thing about scouting in hockey is that there are often times players who may get on a team's wish list, even when it appears nobody else is onto them. Dirk may just be a Red Line fave, but don't discount Western scouts for NHL clubs seeing the potential in his heady, selfless game, either.
So, keep an eye on Jagger Dirk, if for no other reason, his name will stick with you, and we'll see if his name is called in Minnesota and where. He seems to have many of the qualities NHL teams are looking for in their defenders.
Here's a fight between two kids whose dads skated against one another in Dirk and Keegan Lowe (son of Kevin)
Dirk loses this one, but comes to the defense of his teammate and gave away a lot of size and reach