One of the older first time eligibles in the draft Connor Zary is one of many centers who the Leafs could consider to address their lack of depth in that position organizationally. (I mean the one/two spots in the depth chart are fine, but after that.)
Zary is an interest case, as older first timers tend to carry a bit of a stigma because they are expected to significantly outproduce the younger draft eligibles, and Zary certainly did that by putting up 86 points in 57 games last season, but when you see that Zary was also a 67 point player in 63 games in the year he missed the draft cut off by 10 days, it looks more like a solid first rounder following up his year with a solid draft plus one year, and Zary potentially being more NHL ready than a lot of other options available in the mid first round.
At 6’0 and 181 lbs, Zary isn’t a giant, but is big enough that he escapes the undersized stigma unfairly thrown on players like Jarvis. He was a 2nd round pick in the WHL bantam draft, so he’s been consistent in his success throughout his hockey career, and is considered to have one of the best shots in the draft, again 38 goals in 57 games likely attests to that as well.
The knock on Zary seems to be his skating. It’s not particularly elegant or technical, and even while you can coach and develop skating, it seems that Zary might be a bit more work than usual, even if his speed remains passable, at least at the level he’s currently at.
|TLN Consensus Ranking||Bob McKenzie||Cam Robinson||Craig Button||Eliteprospects||Future Considerations||McKeens|
Weighted somewhat heavily by Craig Button’s appreciation of Zary, the rankings support looking at Connor around the 15th overall pick, but he is a bit of a reach. The question marks attached to him are somewhat justified, but an understandable gamble in the later part of the first round, but the Leafs, if they are looking at centers, would realistically have the opportunity to pick from Jarvis, Holloway, Mercer, and Lapierre as better players available before even considering other position options as well.
Where we come back around to Zary is the goal scoring, and of the centers available Zary might be the best finisher aside from Jarvis, who may or not still be on the board when the Leafs pick at 15.
From a Leafs perspective, Zary isn’t a name I’d dismiss from consideration, but not one I’d particularly put a lot of stock in either. If he’s a player they would take, they would likely do it by trading down a few picks and taking him a little later than 15th because they’d see his talent level as similar to other players available at the same time and would be comfortable with any of them.