Calgary Wranglers predictions: Connor Zary should be named alternate captain
Photo credit:David Moll/Calgary Wranglers
2 months ago
The Calgary Wranglers go into the 2023-24 season with a vacancy in their leadership group. Long-time alternate captain Matthew Phillips departed the team in the off-season and his “A” needs a new jersey to be sewn on. It’s in my belief that an “A” should be sewn on the jersey of number 47, Connor Zary.
Why Zary do you ask? Because he is still young enough to mentor the rookies but old enough to have a few years of experience to share with his peers. He also has had his share of obstacles in his development path and carries a lead-by-example level of on-ice skill-set. Not to mention, he also carries a hockey resume of leadership skills.
He has held three previous leadership positions starting with the Saskatoon Outlaws in the SAAHL U15 league. It wasn’t a fluke either as by his third year in the WHL, his jersey had a letter on it. In the 2019-20 season with Blazers, Zary was named an alternate captain and it ended up being his best season in the league with 86 points in 57 games.
In 2020-21, things were modified due to Covid but after a handful of games with the Stockton Heat, Zary rejoined the Blazers as captain of the team for his last season. Even so, his points production was insane at 24 points in 15 games. Zary’s production has started to creep up to this level of play in the AHL with his previous injury behind him and a full season in 2022-23 without missing a game.
Zary was up to 58 points in 72 games with the Calgary Wranglers last season and was the only player on the team to play in every single game. He held good company with Matthew Phillips and Jakob Pelletier among top scorers, and it’s his time to take ownership of this team. He is still fully in that conversation to make an NHL jump at some point, but that seems to be a smaller role this year and maybe a more regular role in the 2024-25 season, depending on how things shake out.
It’s not just his on-ice abilities that work in his favour. Connor Zary is also a very poised and professional athlete in front of the media. From his first professional interview, you could see his personality came off with informed answers and respect. While that is only a small snapshot, it gives some insight into how he would approach on-ice officials, coaching staff and team-affiliated personnel. Not to mention, when a member of the team’s leadership has to come out and talk to the media after a tough loss, he would be the type of player who can handle his emotions and get that job done.
I imagine Connor Zary’s personality also holds a lot of weight in their locker room. He can flip a switch and be in game mode, but he also comes off as a little bit of a jokester. Someone his teammates are comfortable around and someone who brings light and positivity to the rink every day.
There shouldn’t be much of a conversation for the other letters in the organization. Wranglers captain Brett Sutter is returning for another year and alternate captain Nick DeSimone will also be with the team for another season. From my view, these two did a great job creating and maintaining the team chemistry the team thrived on last year and Zary would make a fine addition to that dynamic.
Connor Zary earned a letter in the WHL in his third season and this season also happens to be his third full season in the AHL. Wouldn’t that be a fun coincidence if history repeated itself in that way?
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