2024 Calgary Flames Prospect Preview: Zayne Parekh

Zayne Parekh
Zayne Parekh / Nic Antaya/GettyImages

The Calgary Flames have made some solid trades in the past 12 months under new GM Craig Conroy, and at this point, they've seemingly made their direction clear. One thing that the new regime have focused on is the blue line, with the additions of Hunter Brzustewicz, Joel Hanley, Daniil Miromanov, Kevin Bahl and Artem Grushnikov the results.

However, they are yet to find their No. 1 defenseman going forward, and with the No. 9 overall pick it has been identified as a position of need, with Calgary reportedly identifiying seven potential defenseman with the position. One of those potential targets would excite fans greatly, so lets take a deeper look at budding offensive superstar Zayne Parekh.

Zayne Parekh - Saginaw Spirit, D

6-foot-0, 178 pounds, 18-years of age.
2023-24 OHL stats: 66 games, 33 goals, 63 assists, 96 points, +39 differential.

When the Flames acquired Brzustewicz from the Vancouver Canucks, fans were absolutely thrilled that the defenseman who scored 92 points in the OHL season was now in their system. While it's a fantastic number, it wasn't the top number in the league this past year, as offensive star Zayne Parekh wowed plenty of audiences and topped him with an incredible 96 points, one of the highest numbers ever seen by a blue liner in the CHL.

The 18-year old was so impressive that he was officially awarded the Ontario Hockey League's 2023-24 Defenseman of the Year award.

There's plenty of positives in Parekh's game, but simply put, it's the skating, the elusiveness, the confidence with the puck and the hockey IQ that puts him on a different level than other defenseman in the NHL, as the video below displays.

So why do most mock drafts have Parekh potentially falling to the Flames at No. 9, or at least the pick or two before that? Unfortunately, Zayne's game in his own zone simply hasn't developed yet, and while the flashy offensive upside will always be there, there's plenty of questions around his ability as a stay at home defenseman in high leverage situations. Fortunately, that is the type of deficiency that can be eleviated at the AHL level, and if Parekh focuses on the defensive end, he has the size, length and skating ability to be an all around star.

With that being said however, this is a draft where the Flames need to swing big on a potential superstar the caliber of Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews, and while that may not happen, the upside simply can't be ignored from a player with a fantastic shot as well.

Reasons to draft Zayne Parekh

The reasons to draft Zayne Parekh are incredibly simple; he has great size and the offensive upside to become a star in the NHL, and while he may not have the ceiling of a Cale Makar or a Roman Josi, his offensive game translates at the next level, and he would make a fantastic No. 1 of the future for the Calgary Flames.

Reasons not to draft Zayne Parekh

While Parekh's offensive game has him set up to quickly take the next step, his defensive game has fallen behind, but with extra effort and discipline on that end, the hope is that he can one day turn into a solid enough player in his own zone to justify the advantages he brings with the puck on his stick.

Should the Flames draft Zayne Parekh?

This is an interesting one, as Parekh would have been the dream for Flames fans heading into this past season, but with so many additions on the defense to go on top of Weegar, Andersson, Poirier and Pachal, the blue line needs to be sorted out. There's very little high end talent in there beyond Brzustewicz, so if the Flames go to the board at No. 9 with the likes of Zeev Buium, Tij Iginla, Berkly Catton and Cayden Lindstrom already off the board, Parekh would be a good pick. Don't be shocked however if the team look to find more size or a centerman given their need though, even if Parekh remains available.