Scouting the 2020 NHL Draft: Connor Zary

The NY Rangers currently have a second 1st round selection in the 2020 NHL Draft that will be in the 21-24 range. There are a lot of good targets for the Rangers in that range. None will be Alexis Lafreniere, but the Rangers will land talent given the depth of the draft. Connor Zary is a center that should still be around in the early-20s, and he’s someone the Rangers could target.

It’s worth noting that I am no draft expert. I did a lot of Googling and Youtubing. You should be checking out sites like Future ConsiderationsElite ProspectsDobber Hockey, and others on Twitter (@SternScouting@ManUtdTobbe@aj_ranger, and I’m sure I missed a bunch).

WHL Play And Skill Set

Zary, a left handed center, had a phenomenal 18-year-old season in the WHL. His line of 38-48-86 in 57 games was second on his team and tops in PPG. The 6’0″, 175 lb center is as complete a center as you’ll find in the draft, and is dangerous in all three zones.

We see that Zary makes great reads and uses a quick first step to create separation. He’s also not afraid to get to the net and play in the dirty areas. He has a very strong lower half, which makes him hard to knock off the puck. That strength helps him in corners and in front of the net. This is what made him one of the best centers in the WHL last season.

Zary, as seen above, has some quick hands and a good release on his shot. It’s not a lethal shot like you might see from others in the draft, but he finds twine with remarkable consistency.

Zary’s reads are what set him apart from some of the others in this draft range. He follows up plays and drives the net on offense and pressures puck carriers and gets his stick in passing lanes on defense. Zary doesn’t panic with the puck in the defensive end, making those all important first and second passes to start the breakout. He is just a complete player.


Zary has a very high floor. While the talent is superb, what coaches love to see is his desire to get to the dirty areas and do little things to help his team win. He doesn’t shy away from corners, he will take the hit to make a play, and he will use his size to get in front of the net.

The knock on Zary is his projected ceiling. Zary is viewed as the “safe” pick in this draft. His skill set makes him an almost sure-fire bet to be a bottom-six forward. But the lack of an elite defining skill limits how high he can climb in the lineup. He’s a good, but not great skater. He’s got a solid, but not lethal shot. His best skill is that he is good at everything.

If the goal is to get as high a floor as possible, then Zary is the safe bet in the 21-24 range. However there will likely be higher ceiling players that come with a little more risk.

Prior Reports: Seth Jarvis, Noel Gunler, Jan Mysak

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  • Zary would be a good get if he falls into the 20’s. However I’m still a Holloway fan. I like his intangibles, pro body,good in the d-zone,and play multiple positions. Me personally I think he’s more pro ready.

  • Do we want another Lias Andersson? Your write-up above describes our former 7th overall pick perfectly. Easy PASS….

  • We have assets, I want Holloway … high floor and a higher ceiling than Zary. Not to suggest I wouldn’t be OK with them picking Zary in the early 20’s.

    • tanto


      I read that Zary has played three years with his line mates, and is a bit older than the majority of other kids, so he has that going for him. Zary stands at 6’0” and 181 pounds, that’s how they listed him, and isn’t the best of skaters, his first few strides he stands up, and has some issues with defense(?).

      I’d try to move up for Holloway by giving up a 3rd, and a prospect if need be. He’s bigger, at 6′ 0″, and some 200 lbs, that’s what I want. He also plays a rougher type of game, north-south, snarl if you would, something lacking right now!!!!!!!

      • He would be so perfect for this team — at least that’s my belief. If it took our 1st, a 3rd and say Hajek to get him, I would — or two 3rds. We have a lot in the system already, coming out of this draft with just (ha ha) Lafreniere and Holloway would be some sweet sweet icing on the cake.

  • JJ Peterka or Lukas Reichel
    We got the first – go big or go home with the later pick.
    Even Tyson Foerster is another great choice.
    All 3 should be available to pick in the 20’s.
    Versatile forwards will be this drafts story line for NYR. Bet on it.

  • I wonder if the Rangers could build a package using their 2nd pick in the first round to get one of Turcotte or Kupari? LA will be getting one of Stützle (I thought he was a wing but hear a lot of people talking about him as a center) or Byfield in this draft. Most likely Byfield who will be a much better center prospect than either of Turcotte or Kupari. Maybe the Rangers could throw in two of Lias, Howden, Georgiev, ADA or Strome–maybe Thomas would be added?

  • Very polarizing prospect. Some have said that his underlying stats are suspect, though his traditional stats are good. Causing some doubt as to whether his game would translate well into the NHL, as David points out:

    “But the lack of an elite defining skill limits how high he can climb in the lineup. He’s a good, but not great skater. He’s got a solid, but not lethal shot. His best skill is that he is good at everything.”

    I’m sure that there are other players in the 20ish range with the same or similar doubts. So I would not be surprised if the Rangers end up trading the pick, given that the Rangers’ draft is already a home run, and they have no 2nd round picks to move up in the draft.

    • Centerman is needed… There will be better options if we move up into 15 and up….I believe that we have the pieces to move that high up in the draft..

  • Yep if Conner is available he would be a good pick. Myself I like LD Kaider Guhie. A hockey team can never have enough solid defencemen in their organization.

    • I would have said Centers, since many can and have been converted to wingers if they can’t deliver the goods at Center. 😉 Centers are versatile.

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