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2024 NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Zayne Parekh

(Natalie Shaver/OHL Images)

Selecting a defenseman with the 12th overall pick in the 2024 NHL Entry Draft isn’t controversial for the Philadelphia Flyers.

Daniel Brière could choose a forward. We’ve heard about players eligible for the draft, such as Cole Eiserman and Berkly Catton. Of those two, my pick would be Eiserman. However, let’s drop the forwards from the equation. A defenseman with a well-equipped offensive skill set to refresh the worst powerplay unit in the NHL sounds like a glaring team need if the right prospect is available.

A few teams will contest for such a prospect. The Columbus Blue Jackets, Ottawa Senators, and NHL Utah are sensible organizations looking for a blue liner.

If the Flyers consider this route, Zayne Parekh is a valuable option. This season, Philadelphia finished with the worst powerplay percentage in franchise history. A putrid 12.2% represented a powerplay without an identity.

Zayne Parekh

At the 2024 NHL Entry Draft, Parekh is likely to be selected in the top ten. However, no one would say it’s out of place if a team like the Montreal Canadiens made a minor reach to select Parekh fifth overall.

John Tortorella, after the Flyers traded Cutter Gauthier for Jamie Drysdale, referred to Drysdale as a ‘rover’ when describing his defensive role. That’s Parekh. He can cut on a dime, control the puck with top-notch skill, and is incredibly smart in the offensive zone. Philadelphia would find their powerplay quarterback with Parekh, to which Egor Zamula was the most effective in 2023-2024. Zamula is a restricted free agent this offseason.

Just because Parekh is electric with the puck and made to quarterback the powerplay unit doesn’t automatically mean he is a defensive liability. He can do both, but Parekh is known for his offensive-minded acumen. His skating allows him to close in on forwards with relative ease, and where his defensive game needs improvement, that’s what development is for. Brad Shaw is a great mind to extend a branch from the learning tree to Parekh.

Parekh was the CHL Defenseman of the Year and OHL Most Outstanding Defenseman (Max Kaminsky Trophy). In 66GP with the Saginaw Spirit in 2023-2024, Parekh tallied 96 points (33G, 63A) with a +39 rating but eventually lost to the London Knights in the OHL Conference Finals. In 6GP, Parekh added five points (1G, 4A) with a +7 rating as the Spirit got a measure of revenge against the Knights in the 2024 Memorial Cup Finals, 4-3.

NHL Fit/Comparables

On the Flyers, Parekh would be a top-four defenseman. His offensive capabilities and skating offer shades of Adam Fox or Quinn Hughes. Parekh would also say he’s trying to model his game off of Cale Makar.

Only one OHL defenseman since 2000 scored more points than Parekh in a single season. That was Ryan Ellis, best known in Philadelphia for being on the long-term injury report. However, in the NHL, Ellis carved out a solid career with the Nashville Predators. Parekh can be as defensively steady as Ellis if Shaw gets his hands on him.

These NHL comparisons went as early as 4th overall (Makar) and as late as the third round (Fox). Ellis was selected 11th overall, closest to the Flyers’ draft position at the 2024 NHL Entry Draft.

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