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Zemgus Girgensons was a popular player amongst our scouts back in his NHL draft year. Not only did he impress us with his game on the ice, but he also was one of the most impressive players we met and spoke to that season. Those factors led to us grading him out with a 5th overall ranking in our final 2012 NHL Draft Rankings.
Girgensons got off to a bit of a slow start in his AHL career last season, but once he started to acclimate himself to the league he began to flourish. He finished very strong and scored in all of his playoff games.
So far this season he has played 46 games with the Sabres, while Mikhail Grigorenko, who was selected a couple of picks ahead of him, is now back in the QMJHL with the Quebec Remparts. Girgensons has posted 14 points so far while showing off his relentless work ethic to Sabres fans.
A look back…
From our 2012 NHL Draft Black Book
Zemgus Girgensons – LC – Dubuque Fighting Saints, 6’1” 182
Girgensons has impressed our scouts going back to last season. He also got off to a flying start this year with a very solid showing at the NHL Research & Development Camp and an impressive showing at the USHL’s Fall Classic.
There was one game early in the season that sticks out for us though. An early season matchup in Ann Arbor versus the USNTDP ended up being a clash between Jacob Trouba and Zemgus. The USNTDP was physical and in Girgensons face all night long. In the end, despite not recording a point in the game, Zemgus put on a show for the endless number of scouts in the building that night. He handled the physical test like a star player and made a loud statement to scouts.
Zemgus brings skill along with a relentless motor to the ice each shift. He has much better scoring ability than some scouts give him credit for. He battles hard in one on one situations and combines a lunch pail mentality with his high end tools. His intelligence, skating, shooting and playmaking abili- ties are areas which, in our opinion, make him one of the top forwards available in the 2012 Draft.
Zemgus is smart and plays solid positional hockey in all three zones. He understands defensive hockey and shows a consistent work ethic shift after shift. In one of meetings one of our scouts commented that Girgensons reminded him a bit of Sean Couturier. Like Couturier, he just goes about his business and gets the job done. We also think he is as close to any forward in the draft as far as being NHL ready. He is strong, smart and responsible.
Injuries could be one thing that may end up hurting Girgensons final ranking spot with NHL teams. In this year of injuries to high end prospects, Zemgus did not escape. The thing that was different for Girgensons was that he suffered multiple injuries. No player wants to be labeled as injury prone.
Quotable: “Zemgus is one of my favorite players in the entire 2012 draft. Anytime I watched him he was easily one of the best players on the ice. I also liked him off ice. I spoke to him a few times and this kid understands what it takes to play at a high level. Just watch what this kid will do offensively when he starts playing with NHL players. Not to knock his teammates, but they truly held him back.” – Mark Edwards
HockeyProspect.com Rank 5th Buffalo Sabres selection 14th overall in the 2012 NHL Draft