Zemgus Girgensons. The very name brings to mind Superman villains and 1940’s Red Scare films. But does the player match the name?
Simply put, yes (except the evil part): Girgensons is aggressive, hard working, and skilled enough that his upside is top six, instead of "energy forward".
A Latvian born player who’s spent the past few years in the USHL, Girgensons has made a name for himself with his all-around capabilities. He can hit, he can skate fairly well, he has some snazzy puck skills, and he’s defensively responsible. This sort of handyman player could be exceptionally useful, especially given his position as center, but likely flexibility to wing.
There are few enough players, not to mention prospects, in the Flames organization that can claim a combination of both aggresiveness and pure puck skill. Given his size and scoring totals in the OHL, it’s likely the Flames had hoped for that from Nemisz, but that’s failed to materialize. Given Michael Ferland’s noted size and aggressiveness, one would assume he has that combination, but he trends towards more of a pure power forward, rather than the hybrid player that Girgensons appears to be.
It’s hard not to dream of Girgensons and Baertschi lining up together, and the mean center making space for the slick winger, but it’s important to keep in mind that Girgensons has commited to the University of Vermont in the fall, which could put the expected arrival date a bit later than normal. That’s not always a terrible thing: it’d mean Girgensons would probably not be rushed ahead of schedule in development and the Flames would retain his rights for four years.
According to Jacket’s Cannon, there’s also the possibility the team that drafts him (especially if it’s a Canadian team) could push him to play for the Kelowna Rockets, who own his CHL rights.
Still, Girgensons is a player with plusses and minues. Here are a few key quotes on him from Cory Pronman:
Girgensons is a great do-it-all player who can create offense from his natural skill and still be a fan favorite because of his intangibles…he also shows a diligent work ethic at both ends, and is very responsible and smart defensively for his age…
Here’s the downside though:
He shows great puck skills, has good hockey sense, skates well, and has a good physical game. My issue is the instances where he doesn’t show those skills. I’m not talking about taking games off – there will be games where he’s going at 100% and he doesn’t show great offensive skill.
That could very easily (and very scarily, for a top 15 pick) translate into David Moss-ism. A hardworking physical player, but one who for no reason will switch between high end as The Moss(n)ster and 3rd/4th liner as just plain old David Moss. It could just be that he has a few kinks to work out and once those are out of the way, he’ll be a great all around player, but at this point, it’s something of a mystery. It’s worth noting that Pronman has Girgensons ranked as the 14th best prospect.
Much like Kent was able to do with Faksa as an OHL player, I was able to get a good look at how Girgensons scoring breaks down situationally:
- Total Points: 55
- PPG: 1.12
- ES%: 70.9%
- PP%: 25.5%
- Team%: 29.1%
Just like Faksa, most of his damage was done at EV, and 70% is a pretty good chunk at that. He contributed to nearly 30% of total team goals, and when you consider he missed eleven games, that number is definitely over 30% for team scoring percentage while he’s in the lineup. That’s a pretty key player, but not necessarily a star player at this point.
Girgensons also led his team in shots taken, with 166 in 49 games (3.4/game).
Feaster hasn’t shown any reluctance in taking players from the NCAA, USHL, or even overseas (all of which are categories that Girgensons fits in to an extent). John Gaudreau came from the same team (Dubuque Fighting Saints), for example. Girgensons mix of overall ability and size down the middle speaks to a few needs in Calgary’s system as well.
Possibility he will be available at 14: Very High
Possibility Flames will pick him: High, barring a player slipping in the draft