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.

Projections

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