An in depth look at one of the top draft eligible players that is actually playing in the WJC. His name is Zach Parise and he is this week’s feature of the Draft Document.
Zach Parise, C, 6-1, 185 lbs., left handed shot, University of North Dakota, WCHA
Parise got a head start on his hockey career from the day he was born. Parise is the second Parise to make it big in hockey. The first was his dad, J.P., who was an NHLer in a few places, one of which was Minnesota as a player and an assistant coach. Now, Zach is trying to follow his dad into the big show. Giving the media attention, the hype, and the subsequent production on the ice by slick pivot, and Zach won’t have to wait long. Already touted as a first round pick prior to the start of the season, Parise has had a nearly flawless season thus far and is seeing his draft ranking soar. In fact, he is the top draft eligible college player in the draft according to the Central Scouting Bureau. Parise survived a tough challenge from Tomas Vanek to claim the top spot. He even blew by Mark Stuart, who was viewed by some, including myself, to be a surefire top 10 pick this year. This just goes to show the awesome depth of this years draft and illustrates how good these players have to be to get into first round consideration. And Parise is blowing by some of them like they are standing still.
One of the few drawbacks to Parise is his size. Presently 20 lbs. lighter then the average NHLer, and upwards of 55 lbs. lighter then some of the truly big men in the league, Parise is going to have to add a little more bulk to his frame to survive. However, he is compounded by the problem that he still lacks that extra gear; that breakaway step. Adding bulk without adding speed would likely hurt his game. His agility is also not a strong suit, which would hurt him even more with the added bulk. Still, Parise does need to figure out a way to add size to his body if wants to seriously challenge for a top 10 spot in the draft. He has the tenacity to fight his way through the tight checking and the rougher play of the college game, but that only translates so far in the NHL. Parise is likely going to have to rely on his passing skills and his positioning to be effective in the NHL, two things which are important, but don’t help much when needed to battle down low for loose pucks. Still he viewed as being strong on his skates and hard to knock over so hopefully he can find a way to translate that to the big show.
His offensive game is what really excites the scouts. Just a freshman this year, Parise is leading the entire nation in scoring with 38 points in just 18 games and is presently on an 8 game scoring streak. Without a doubt the strongest part of his game, Parise is at his most dangerous when he has the puck on his stick. One of the more talented offensive players in the draft, Parise has a knack for knowing where everyone is at all times and being able to get them the puck. With well over an assist per game (25 in 18 games), Parise is likely going to make is living in the league as a setup man who can add the odd goal. Viewed by some to be a potential Brendan Morrison, Parise is going to have to continue to work on his decision making with the puck so he doesn’t become a one dimensional offensive threat. Shouldn’t be a problem though, as Parise is a hard worker who takes after his dad. However, because he lacks either the breakaway speed or the physical size, Parise is likely to not develop into the upper echelon, number 1 center, but instead be viewed as a top offensive threat and good all around second line player.
Defensively, Parise is much the same as any young player. Still needs work but trying to improve. He needs to pay more attention to his man and stop just watching the puck. He is likely looking for a turnover so he can get a quick break on offense. Given his success thus far on the attack, who can blame the kid? But he is definitely not one dimensional. With his work ethic, Parise is sure to round his game into being solid and accountable at both ends of the ice. Parise takes pride in being viewed as reliable. He works constantly to improve his game. In fact, one of the things that changed his career path was the fact that wanted to play more games. So he decided against attention attending Bloomington Jefferson high school in favor of the impressive Shattuck-St. Mary’s school which had a schedule that was 40 games longer and more ice time in practice. This extra game and practice time, plus the fact that he was able to help the team capture national and international championship status helped Parise develop his game quickly.
Parise should be a mid to late first round pick in this years draft. With his work ethic and bloodlines, Parise is sure to be stuck in the back of scouts minds on draft day. And a team looking for some offensive insurance down the road would be quite willing to snatch up Parise in a heartbeat. However, the emphasis is on down the road, as Parise has already publicly stated he wants to return to North Dakota for one more year. This is good for Parise and his development, but it will be interesting to see how much this affects his draft status. Still, Parise should be a surefire 1st rounder and top offensive producer for an NHL team down the road. If whoever drafts him gives him time to develop, they will be greatly rewarded with some fine two-way play from a leader who works harder then most on the team. Someone who will be key in any teams attack. A truly fine pickup for any team.