Those following Copponi may have noticed another player on his team in Merrimack College who also has roots in Alberta. Undrafted player Zach Bookman is a late bloomer the Edmonton Oilers’ scouts should be taking notes on this season:
At age 21 he is playing just his second season in the NCAA, whereas most talented players coming out of leagues such as the NCAA find themselves drafted at age 18 and off to the NCAA the following year for their age 19 season.
Still, Bookman has shown the kind of production so far this season that you would want from a late bloomer, proving you can take it to the next level despite showing up a year later than most who have draft pedigree:
The encouraging thing about Bookman is how his production explodes in his second season in each league he plays in, which indicates a potential to develop into a quality player as he moves up each level in development. He might be a sleeper undrafted prospect, with a 41.9 NHLe so far this season.
Bookman’s production is shown in the second tweet below:
Note that fellow Oiler prospect, forward Carter Savoie, scored 99 points in the AJHL as a 17-18 year old. Bookman doing so as a defenceman at age 19 is still a noticeable feat.
Taking a look at Bookman’s NHLe versus successful ex-AJHL defencemen, his development indicates he could be a strong “project prospect” and college signing for an Oilers organisation that has seen little success in that area since the signing of Matt Benning under Peter Chiarelli in 2016.
The plot in the second tweet below compares Bookman’s NHLe production versus notable ex-AJHL players who made the NHL. Seasons where a player moved into a new league are marked with a square plot point:
Bookman reached the AJHL and college hockey a year later than most of these ex-AJHL players, but his NHLe has trended well into the middle of a pack of a list of players that includes Benning, Ian Mitchell, Colton Parayko and Carson Soucy. This year so far, he is producing very well, and in the neighbourhood of how Colton Parayko did as a 22-year-old.
Most of these players made it to pro hockey (AHL and then NHL) at around age 22 to 23, and many experienced a drop in production when taking their first pro step. Some players such as Soucy and Nick Blankenburg didn’t even make the NHL until age 25. The fact that Bookman is keeping pace with these players in his development is encouraging, and he may be a quality pro player in the coming years.
The Oilers are going to have to pick players like Bookman out of the woodwork to keep their pro prospect pipeline flowing in their Stanley Cup contending era: