NHL Draft Prospect Profile #15: Zemgus Girgensons

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Updated: April 20, 2012

Drafted 14th overall by Buffalo Sabres

Our #15 ranked prospect is expected to be the highest drafted player ever from Latvia. Zemgus Girgensons is a big powerful centre who is the captain for the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL, where he is a teammate of Michael Matheson.  He is committed to play NCAA hockey next year for the University of Vermont.  Should he choose to instead go the CHL route, his rights are owned by the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets.

Centre
Born Jan 5 1994 — Riga Latvia,
Height 6.02 — Weight 198
2010-11 Dubuque Fighting Saints USHL 51 21 28 49 46 7 11 3 5 8 8
2011-12 Dubuque Fighting Saints USHL 49 24 31 55 69 17

Zemgus Girgensons is a prototypical power forward prospect.  He possesses excellent size and great skating.  Girgensons has a powerful stride, very good speed and balance, and above average agility.  He uses these attributes to drive hard to the net and get to the dirty areas of the ice.  He is equally capable of driving wide on a defender and going around an opponent before cutting hard to the net, or bulldozing his way right through the opponent.  He adds to this great stickhandling and puck protection abilities.  He has good hockey sense, vision and passing ability adding a playmaking element to his game.  He also possesses soft hands in close and a good wrist shot, and these help him to be a natural goal scorer.

Girgensons is a good two way player.  He has effective hockey sense and positioning in the defensive zone.  He uses his size and long stick to angle opponents to the outside, and to cut down passing and shooting lanes.  He is a strong positional player in the defensive zone, who understands and sticks to his assignment.  Girgensons is an effective and valuable penalty killer, and is often matched up against an opponents top players in even strength situations.  He is just as willing to engage physically and win battles in the defensive zone as he is in the offensive end of the ice.

What we feel has kept Girgensons a step below similar ranked players like Radek Faksa and Brendan Gaunce is a lack of consistency.  There are games where he is the best player on the ice, an absolute dominant force in all ends of the ice, and looks like a clear top 10 pick.  However we’ve also seen that Girgensons have games where he gets frustrated and begins to press a little too hard instead of letting the game come to him. He can get into situations where he will overhandle the puck, make one too many moves, instead of taking the smarter easier scoring chance that is in front of him.  He also can sometimes take a bad offensive zone penalty on nights where he is being frustrated.  We do not believe that this inconsistency is not due to any lack of effort on his part.  It is merely something he will need to fix as he matures.  Girgensons has good intangibles and is a leads his Dubuque teammates by example.  His coaches have a ton of faith in him, naming him captain ahead of older more experienced teammates.

Unfortunately for Girgensons, his season recently ended as the result of a broken jaw suffered in Dubuque’s opening round win over the Under-17 USNTDP team.  He will be unavailable for the remainder of the USHL playoffs.  The injury curse of the 2012 Draft Class continues.  Last year he helped Dubuque win the Clark Cup as USHL Champions, and his injury is obviously a major blow to their chances of repeating.

We see Girgensons game, and his high end potential as similar to Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks; however he must develop more consistency if he is to reach this potential.  With time we believe that Girgensons should develop into an effective third liner in the NHL, however he does have the potential to develop his offensive game and become an effective two way player in the top 6 as well.

… and thats the Last Word.

5 Comments

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