Connor Zary is off to an excellent start this season with the Calgary Wranglers, which currently has him rolling at over a point-per-game pace through the club’s opening 13 games thus far.
Since heavily impressing during camp, Zary has notched seven goals and seven assists for a current total of 14 points on the year. This showcases his scoring rate at a 1.08-point-per-game pace. His impactful start so far has him tied alongside Jakob Pelletier for second in team scoring, just two points behind Matthew Phillips.
Zary’s progression as a Flames prospect
Connor Zary was the Flames’ 24th overall, first-round selection in the 2020 NHL Draft. Unfortunately due to injury—and thus to no one’s surprise—he had a less than favourable rookie season last year. He suffered a significant ankle injury during a rookie game to start the season.
This unfortunate incident had him miss up to eight weeks before being able to rejoin last year’s edition of the Heat. Once Zary returned, he was slotted at the centre position and struggled to adjust to the pace of the game. It wasn’t the best return back from injury for him after an extended absence.
Furthermore, Zary’s underwhelming rookie season at the pro level saw him tally just 13 goals and 12 assists for a total of 25 points through 53 games in Stockton’s 2021–22 regular season. This was later capped off with just one goal and two points through 13 games during last spring’s Calder Cup run.
A number of so-called analysts were quick to jump the gun to degrade and underrate his ranking and potential future impact within the club’s prospect pool and beyond. During a season which saw him play catch-up due to returning from a broken ankle, statements were made about how he would ultimately never make a strong impact at any point down the line. However, those same analysts likely forgot about his nine-game stint in the AHL in the 2020–21 season.
That segment of play saw him tally three goals and four assists for a total of seven points in that short stint. A heck of an audition, which instantly set him apart from the rest of the young prospects in that brief period of time. This is what a healthy Zary was able to accomplish, right off the get-go and we’re currently seeing a healthy Zary have a hand in leading the Wranglers, night in and night out. As a former captain for the Kamloops Blazers at the Western Hockey League level, Zary has taken another step with his confidence and on-ice leadership, over the course of the back half of last season and into 2022–23 so far.
Zary’s time is coming
As a first-round pick, I think we all knew that there was clearly a high level of talent there—we saw it during his nine-game audition a few seasons ago, and we’re seeing a more mature and evidently confident version of it now. Zary has absolutely been quite the impact-maker thus far and there’s plenty of reason to continue to be excited for what could be more to come.
Photo by Marissa Baecker via NHL.com