Daily Faceoff identifies Connor Zary as ‘prospect to watch’ on Calgary Wranglers
Photo credit:Terence Leung/Calgary Wranglers
By Ryan Pike1 month ago
The American Hockey League kicked off their 2023-24 regular season on Friday night, with 24 of the league’s 32 teams in action. One of those teams was the Calgary Flames’ top farm club, the Calgary Wranglers. Over at Daily Faceoff, our pal Steven Ellis took a spin around the AHL and identified a player on each affiliate as a “prospect to watch.”
For the Wranglers, he singled out forward Connor Zary.
Dustin Wolf felt too obvious, and it’s not like the two-time top goaltender has anything else to prove. With Zary, the 22-year-old is coming off of a mega AHL sophomore campaign that saw him record 21 goals and 58 points in 72 games. Calgary’s offense will be less dynamic with the departure of Matthew Phillips and the likely promotion of Jakob Pelletier (when he’s healthy), so Zary will be even more important this year. Many believe Zary still has a good NHL future ahead of him, and, maybe with Ryan Huska as coach, we’ll see the smaller young guns thrive in Calgary’s short-term future. For now, it’s all about progressing upwards.
(Yeah, Dustin Wolf would have been a little bit too obvious…)
A product of the Western Hockey League’s Kamloops Blazers – co-owned by Flames legend Jarome Iginla – Zary was the Flames’ first-round selection back in the 2020 NHL Draft. Zary’s dealt with some injuries here and there since being drafted, but when he’s been healthy he’s progressed really nicely.
Zary turned 22 a few weeks ago and is entering his third season of pro hockey. His first season (2021-22) was a bit all over the place, as he broke his ankle in a prospect camp game and didn’t really get a training camp with the NHL club. He got into game action in mid-November, but didn’t really seem to find his groove until a month or so later. He had 25 points in 53 games. He avoided injury in 2022-23 and played in every single game for the Wranglers, posting 58 points in 72 games.
A toolsy, versatile, smart forward who can play centre or the wing, Zary has this season and one more remaining on his entry-level deal. If he can keep playing with the energy, consistency and poise we saw from him in big chunks of last season, we’re willing to bet that we see Zary in the NHL before his current contract expires.
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