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‘I love to win’: The Calgary Flames found themselves a well-spoken winner in Zayne Parekh

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Photo credit:Natalie Shaver/OHL Images
Jeff Middleton
20 days ago
This article is brought to you by bet365.
As quick as it began, the first round of the 2024 NHL Entry Draft is over, with the Calgary Flames having made two selections. There was no movement from the Flames, even from where they were positioned at 28th overall, but considering how the first round played out, especially at the top with a couple of surprise selections, it doesn’t appear as if Flames fans are at all upset with the result.
With a few interesting names still on the board by the time the Flames pick rolled around at number nine, there were plenty of options. But the one Craig Conroy and his staff went for in the end was the defenceman Zayne Parekh. And to say the young defenceman was happy would be an understatement.
“Leading up to the pick, I had a feeling I might end up in Calgary, and when it did happen, those 30 seconds leading up to it I was smiling, so it feels great,” Parekh said in his post-draft scrum, via Flames TV.
All of this starts with a good impression, which from the sound of it, is exactly what Parekh left on the Flames scouting team and management at the combine. They even told his agent that he was very well spoken, which isn’t necessarily a surprise for a kid who graduated high school two years early and has been taking classes at the University of Toronto since he was 15-16 years old, but it’s still good to hear.
”At the combine I had a really good talk with [the Flames],” Parekh said. “I think they told my agent that I spoke pretty well in my interview and that I did a good job. They told me there’s interest coming into the draft and obviously they ended up taking me, so pretty good gut feeling.”
There have been some intriguing additions to the Flames blue line from this point dating back to even the trade deadline, whether that be in the form of roster players or prospects. It’s a clear area of strength for the organization, and Parekh, while he does fall into a crowded field, separates himself a fair amount in terms of skill set.
Our very own Shane “Flash” Stevenson wrote a profile on Parekh’s tool kit, strengths, and weaknesses a few days ago, so I implore everyone to read that if you haven’t already. But, to anyone who wants a surface-level analysis, he’s very, very good on offence. For example, this past season, he scored 33 goals and 96 points in 63 games with the Saginaw Spirit as a defenceman.
Not bad.
The one area of his game that he needs to continue working on, as noted by scouts and Parekh himself, is his defense. However, he noticed some strong development in other areas of his game over the season.
“I think I took steps in the right direction every day,” Parekh said. “It starts in practice obviously, but from the start of the season to the end of the season, I think I really matured in terms of my game away from the puck and with the puck I became more creative and smarter. I thought I became a little bit of a better skater throughout the year, too.”
While the offensive skillset Parekh possesses is about as attractive as any player’s in the draft, his attitude off the ice is just as impressive. Most importantly, he’s focused on winning, especially after experiencing the euphoria that is winning the Memorial Cup, which is a memory he said is up there with being drafted.
“I love to win,” Parekh said. “I love that feeling of winning and going through those 10 days with that group of guys, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. And if I could relive it, I would one thousand times over.”
Parekh is a dynamic offensive player with some holes in his defensive game that he’s actively working on, but he’s also a kid who loves to win with all of his heart and is determined to do it at the next level. The Flames drafted themselves an impressive player on and off the ice, so as the challenges come, tuning in to see how he adapts is at the top of everyone’s Flames prospect bucket list.

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