Flames take Zayne Parekh with ninth overall pick in NHL Draft

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Zayne Parekh put up huge numbers in the OHL last year.

And the Calgary Flames are betting big that will translate to the NHL.

The Flames selected the 6-foot defenceman with their ninth overall pick at Friday night’s NHL Draft, adding a significant amount of firepower to the future of their blue-line.

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A lot of the conversation surrounding the Flames had centred around Tij Iginla heading into the draft, but Jarome’s son was selected three picks before they took to the podium when the Utah Hockey Club announced his name.

In Parekh, though, the Flames got a rearguard who led all CHL defencemen with 33 goals in 2023-24 and won the Memorial Cup with the Saginaw Spirit.


Here’s a few things to know about the newest Flames prospect:

HIS HOCKEY I.Q. IS THROUGH THE ROOF

Read any scouting report on Parekh — who is from Nobleton, Ont. — and they’ll tell you the same thing: He sees the ice brilliantly and keeps his composure in the defensive end while evading opponents in the offensive zone and creating offence.

That second part is going to be what generates headlines.

Parekh scored 33 goals and added 63 assists in 66 games for the Spirit and then recorded two goals and nine assists in 11 playoff games.

He’s a potential power-play quarterback and has a dynamic skill-set that few young defencemen in this year’s draft come close to matching.

Saginaw Spirit’s Zayne Parekh (19) celebrates with the Memorial Cup trophy after a 4-3 win over the London Knights in Saginaw, Mich., Sunday, June 2, 2024. Photo by DUANE BURLESON /THE CANADIAN PRESS

HE ISN’T ALL OFFENCE

This is important, because again, most of the talk is going to be about his offensive numbers but scouts had a lot of good things to say about his play on the other end of the ice, too.

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FC Hockey’s 2024 Draft Guide referred to Parekh as being “high-risk, high-reward” but emphasized that he stays active in his own zone and uses his stick work and skating to disrupt opponents.

Parekh is only 18, so he’s got lots of time to work on his game in the defensive end, but even now, it’s not like it’s being used as a knock against him.

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THE FLAMES HAVE LOADED UP ON YOUNG D

With the trades they’ve made over the last 12 months and then drafting Parekh on Friday, the Flames have seriously bolstered their core of young defencemen.

The likes of Hunter Brzustewicz and Joni Jurmo came over in the deal that sent Jacob Markstrom to the Vancouver Canucks, while they added Artem Grushnikov in the deal that sent Chris Tanev to the Dallas Stars and then got Kevin Bahl, who is only 24-years-old, from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for Jacob Markstrom last week.

Parekh may have the most upside of any of them and could very well be their No. 1 guy in a few years time, but regardless of what else they do at the draft on Friday and Saturday, they’re a lot further ahead in terms of adding young d-men than they were a year ago.

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