Columbus Blue Jackets draft candidate, Zayne Parekh has immense upside

By the time the final counts come in, Zayne Parekh could be the most valuable defenseman to come out of this year's draft class. He's certainly got the skill.
2024 Memorial Cup - Final
2024 Memorial Cup - Final / Nic Antaya/GettyImages
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If your first reaction to my recommending Zayne Parekh to the Blue Jackets, is to respond by saying "we don't need another offensive defenseman"; I would not blame you. But, hear my argument out anyway, because I think this guy could be really special.

The Jackets are pretty well set for puck movers on the back end. Zach Werenski is still signed long-term. As is Damon Severson. Coming up the pipeline are David Jiricek, Denton Mateychuk, and Stanislav Svozil. Lest we overlook Adam Boqvist, who could still come into form as a big point producer as well.

For these reasons, it's hard to make too big a case for Parekh to the Blue Jackets. But, from a purely offensive standpoint, he may have a higher upside than every player I just mentioned. He's that good.

Parekh is the next great prospect to come along in the mold of Cale Makar, or Adam Fox, or Quinn Hughes. He's a great skating puck mover with elite offensive traits, and I definitely think he has the potential to be as good as all three of these guys. But, that's not to say he's without risk.

Parekh tips the scales at 6'0", around 180 pounds. With a February birthday, he's one of the youngest players available for this upcoming draft. As with any young defenseman with that size, he's often out-matched physically - especially in the defensive zone. And, he's also prone to the occasional mistakes without the puck. But, it's nothing that can't be weeded out in time.

The thing about him is, he's capable of making up for any mistakes by putting up points at the other end. In fact, he did it at an elite level this year - he had a historic season in the OHL.

As a 16 year old rookie last season, Parekh scored 21 goals, which stands as an OHL record for a defenseman at that age. This year, he expanded upon that impressive rookie season by putting up 33 goals and 96 points in 66 games. Remember: he's a defenseman.

This isn't a case of a skilled draft eligible forward playing on a top forward line. In fact, Parekh out-paced more than a handful of those guys this season. He was outright dominant for the Saginaw Spirit, who went on to win the Memorial Cup this season (Parekh had 5 points in 5 MC games).

He scored consistently, at a high level, for an entire season of junior hockey.

What would his selection mean for the Blue Jackets? Let's take a look.