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Edit: Drafted 48th overall by the Detroit Red Wings.
Zach Nastasiuk is yet another prospect in this draft blessed with good athletic genes. His father, Paul Nastasiuk was a football player, a running back and first round pick of the B.C. Lions in the CFL draft. He would go on to play 9 seasons in the league, mostly for the Toronto Argonauts and was a member of the 1991 Grey Cup winning squad. His uncles also played CIAU (now CIS) football for the Laurier Golden Hawks. Meanwhile, his mother, Sue was a CIAU basketball player for the Laurier Golden Hawks. In this way Nastasiuk comes by his raw athletic gifts naturally.
After a good, but not great start to the season, Nastasiuk really blossomed in the second half of the year. After being moved to Right Wing, his scoring really took off and he was at a near PPG pace over the last 20 games of the season or so, and into the playoffs where he had 11 points in 12 games for the Owen Sound Attack. He would join Team Canada at the IIHF Under 18 World Championships and would score 4 points in 7 games en route to helping the team land the Gold Medal.
Born Mar 30 1995 — Barrie, ONT
Height 6’1.5″ —- Weight 188.8 lbs — Shoots Right
A potential sniper, Nastasiuk has a fantastic arsenal of shots. His wrist and snap shots are heavy, accurate, and the release is very quick. He has a very good one-timer as well. As a pure shooter, Nastasiuk has some very dangerous weapons that are already near NHL caliber. He’s also got soft hands and can make moves cutting to the net, or use them to tip in shots or bang in rebounds. He’s a physical player who isn’t afraid to go to the front of the net, or to win battles along the boards. That said, while he isn’t afraid to initiate contact, and he’s a determined battler, he isn’t exactly a guy who goes out looking for the big hit either. Nastasiuk plays a strong game off the cycle and can be a playmaker as well with good passing ability and vision.
The weakest part of Nastaskiuk’s game is his skating. There really is no doubt about it. It is his below average skating that will need to be improved if he wants to be more than just a grinder at the NHL level. His stance is choppy and he really should work on developping a more powerful, longer stride over the next few years. The speed is decent when he reaches top speed, but a slow start up step, and issues with acceleration that must be improved mean that by the time he reaches that speed, the play has usually passed him by. He also needs work on his edgework and turning. However Nastasiuk is strong on the puck, and this makes him hard to knock over and allows him to protect the puck off the cycle.
Nastasiuk plays a solid defensive game. He brings the phyiscal elements of his game to his own end of the rink, where he’s known for applying good pressure on the puck career and generally backchecking to the right spots. He blocks shots, cuts down passing lanes and can be effectively used as a penalty killer going forward.
Nastasiuk’s playing style is reminiscent of Troy Brouwer. He has the potential to be a top 6 power winger, however it is more likely he ends up on the third line. There are some real offensive skills here though, and if he can put it together, and add a little bit more speed to his game, I could see him becoming more. A project, but one that might just pay off at the end of it all, and yet still a relatively safe pick in that he has the defensive game to play a third line role even if he cant be a top line guy. While he’s played Centre and Right Wing with Owen Sound, it is much more likely that he will be used as a winger by his future NHL club.
Check back tomorrow for another NHL draft feature.
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Photo Credit: OHL.com