Selected 14th overall by the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. Zach's skill set is ideally suited to the way the game is played in the "new NHL”. He maintains a slightly bowlegged skating style with full leg extension and good return on his stride. The most impressive aspect of Zach's game is his overall speed. For the third season in a row Zack has demonstrated an elite offensive skill level. He plays the game at a high level of speed -- that is, he handles the puck, shoots and passes without slowing down. This gives him a distinct advantage in junior as he is much faster than most players at that level. As Zach moves on to the professional level, and as the pace of the game is quicker and his opponents have more speed -- it would be nice to see Zach add another dimension to his offensive arsenal. Right now, in my opinion, he relies a little too much on his speed advantage. In the defensive zone Zach knows his responsibilities and doesn't get out of position. In terms of physical play, he does not have the size or strength to be a physical force. However, he does compete well and is willing to go in high-traffic areas to score goals. It is difficult to accurately assess his leadership/character without having interviewed him, his teammates, or coaches. One thing I do know is that he worked hard and played through an injury at the World Junior Tournament in Ottawa.
Zack is definitely one of the top prospects in the Western Hockey League. Right now, I would have difficulty in deciding who is the better prospect; Zach or Jordan Eberle. In comparing the two it is easy to notice that Zach has a distinct advantage in his skating style and dynamic speed level. However, Eberle is one of the smartest prospects I have seen and has more variety in his offensive game.
If Zach develops to his potential he will have a solid NHL career. Currently he projects to be a top nine forward in the NHL. Also, his speed will allow him to eventually contribute in penalty killing situations. This type of player is valuable to an NHL team.