Whichever team drafts Zayne Parekh will be getting an elite offensive prospect

Photo credit:Natalie Shaver/OHL Images
Shane Stevenson
29 days ago
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The Calgary Flames hold the 9th overall pick in the 2024 NHL Entry Draft on Fri., June 28.
One player they should certainly have their eye on is Memorial Cup champion defenceman Zayne Parekh.

What’s the word?

One thing heard in hockey circles frequently around draft time is the phrase “hockey IQ” – to gauge how a player has the ability to learn, think, and grow in advancing their hockey skills.
Parekh may have one of the highest hockey IQs that could be available at pick 9 since William Nylander – he’s got a tremendously gifted mind. I mean, he graduated from high school at 15 and broke the OHL goal scoring record for most goals by a 16 year old defenceman (21), he oozes talent out of every pore.
He’s got more strengths than weaknesses – that’s usually the case for a projected top 10 pick – highlighted by his elite skating with a sub-nod to his offensive zone prowess. He understands how to get open, get good shots, and maximize an offence. He can run things from the point but is mobile enough to creep down the wall – press on him at your own risk he doesn’t usually make the wrong decision in the offensive zone.
Defensively he’s not perfect. No drafted prospect is right away, but with his already rapid growth rate it would be a smart bet to say he figures this out.
Now I’m not saying he’s going to become as good as Cale Makar or Quinn Hughes, but that is the playing style Parekh is moulded from. Offence first guy that uses his good skating to defend and his tremendous offensive tools to boost both 5v5 play and a power play.
Here is Daily Faceoff’s tremendous scout Steven Ellis with more on Parekh:
If any defender in this draft can hit the 70-point marker in the NHL, it’s Parekh. Fresh off a Memorial Cup championship with Saginaw, Parekh finished the OHL regular season with 33 goals and 96 points in 66 games to lead all U-18 OHLers. It was the third most productive U-18 season ever by an OHL defender, and he still has at least another year to go in major junior – just imagine the numbers he’ll put up as the Spirit look to remain a contender in 2024-25. Parekh was far and away the best offensive defenseman in junior hockey this year, and I think the upside of him being a devastatingly good point producer will allow him to go early.
Now I know I’m discussing Parekh at nine, but for reference Ellis has him ranked fourth on his list. There is a decent likelihood he will be gone before then – it depends on how the eight teams in front of Calgary on the draft board rank him compared to Zeev Buium, Carter Yakemchuk, Sam Dickinson, and Anton Silayev. Don’t worry about Artyom Leshunov – he’ll be gone first.

The numbers

Parekh scored at a 0.5 goal pace throughout the regular season. In 66 games he collected 33 goals and 63 assists for 96 points. He was the CHL defenceman of the year for good reason beating out a ton of competition in a tremendous defenceman draft class for the honour.
He does struggle at the blueline blocking zone entries or resisting a heavy forecheck, but if given any sort of space to a manoeuvre with the puck he makes magic happen. Goals will form out of nowhere as he reads the defence at a quicker pace than they set it up. He’s the main character on the ice.

Availability and fit

Calgary is in no position to turn down any top end elite potential at any position. If Parekh somehow falls all the way to nine – and I doubt he will – Calgary should pounce all over him. The right shot portion of Calgary’s defence cupboard is pretty much just Brzustewicz, and Parekh would slot in front of him. Honestly Calgary’s defence at the NHL is so weak Parekh could legitimately challenge to play – although another year dominating his peers would do him wonders.
Whoever gets Parekh will not be unhappy with their selection. He projects to be a top pairing offensive dynamo from the back end.

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