The Detroit Red Wings selected right winger Lane Zablocki 79th overall in the 2017 NHL Draft. Coming out of the WHL, Zablocki started the season playing for the Regina Pats, but was traded mid-season to the Red Deer Rebels.
Zablocki was a bit of a strange pick, as Detroit came into this draft looking to add much needed size, and Zablocki was just one of two players the Red Wings selected that was under 6’2, being listed at 6’0 (11 total players drafted.) However, Zablocki does fit the style they were looking to create which was to become a tough team to play against.
While I’m not overly happy with this pick, as he does not have the greatest upside, he does bring a style of play that could make him a useful role player down the road.
What does he bring to the table?
Zablocki is an agitator in every sense of the word. He loves to get under the skin of the opponents, and he can best be described as a pest or as I like to call him “a rat”. Zablocki says he models his game after Brad Marchand of the Bruins, however I think the perfect comparison for him is the man known for starting the famous Red Wings and Avalanche rivalry, Claude Lemieux.
He plays a very chippy game, and like Lemieux, he will go the extra mile to tick you off and make sure he gets in your head for the rest of the game, no matter what. One flaw of his with this style of play, is sometimes he goes to far and ends up taking an unnecessary penalty. His discipline will need work. He is the kind of player teams hate to play against for reasons not on the score sheet. Whether it is with a little wack, or a dirty play when the ref’s not looking, he will do it. While I would not say he is as dirty to the extent of someone like Matt Cooke or even Brad Marchand, he is still a very chippy player.
Zablocki is also a very versatile player. He can play up and down the linup, however I think he is best suited for a bottom-6 checking role. Nevertheless he is totally capable of taking up a top-6 scoring role if needed.
He is not a dynamic player on the offensive side of the puck, as he keeps it simple for the most part. He can’t drive play at a high level, he’s more of a complementary player to a more skilled center. He can create opportunities for his teammates however, with a strong forecheck he gets his nose dirty behind the goal to dig along the boards for pucks. I love his compete level.
I will say he does posses a good shot and he can provide a net front presence. A lot of his goals come in the dirty areas, but that’s not to say he can’t score from elsewhere.
Looking at his stats, Zablocki was able to put up 28 goals and 54 points in 64 games played in the WHL. He also added 6 goals and 8 points in 6 playoffs games for the Red Deer Rebels. These numbers back up the case that he can play in any role, including a scoring role if needed.
I wouldn’t expect Zablocki to become a draft steal or anything like that, but he does play a style that fits the mold of what Ken Holland is trying to build in Detroit. A gritty, tough team to play against. I see him becoming a bottom-6 winger in a checking role who can provide a few goals. I think best case scenario for him is Brandon Gallagher, a chippy player who if he going to score will have to rely on how hard he works, and not necessarily his skill.