The Score has published their first 2024 NHL mock draft and they have the Oilers selecting a very intriguing offensive blue-liner.
The 2024 draft may still be more than six months away, but the Oilers and the rest of the NHL are already preparing for it. Of course there’s only so much they can do at this stage, with still so much uncertainty surrounding where teams will be placed.
However, this hasn’t stopped the Score producing their initial mock draft, for an event which is set to be held in Las Vegas. And Oilers fans will be intrigued by who Kyle Cushman has them picking.
Cushman does note the mock draft is based on where teams were in the standings up to and including Dec. 10, and with no lottery applied. As such, the Oilers were given the 12th pick of the first round.
Addressing a need
With that pick, Cushman had the Oilers selecting Zayne Parekh, who currently plays for the Saginaw Spirit. The rationale for this comes from lacking high-end talent in the prospect pool and needing options on the back end.
In this particular mock draft, Parekh would be the fifth blue-liner picked, but arguably the best offensive threat. In fact, we’re talking about an offensive threat who’s already setting records.
The Nobleton, Ontario native scored 21 goals last season, which was the most ever for a 16-year-old OHL defenceman. Making it even more impressive, this was despite not scoring any in the first nine games of his 2022-23 campaign.
Along with the 21 goals, Parekh finished the regular season with 16 assists and 37 total points in 50 games. He then followed this up with another six goals and nine total points in 11 playoff appearances.
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Better than expected
Saginaw had selected the right-shot defenceman with the 19th pick of the 2022 OHL Priority Selection draft, but admitted they did not expect this type of production. (In fairness, why would they?) As per William Douglas of NHL.com, Spirit coach Chris Lazary said:
"“I don’t think we anticipated him being this much of an impact player, but then I don’t think anybody else in the league did either, otherwise he would have gone earlier. To his credit, he kind of had a chip on his shoulder. Going 19th is special for a kid but I think he thought he should have gone higher, and I think he’s done a good job proving to people that he should have.”"
For his part, Parekh puts his success down to playing for Canada at the 2022 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in British Columbia. He said he came back with a new level of confidence and was able to relax more during games.
The good times have continued to roll for the 17-year-old this season, with him having already surpassed his points total for last season in effectively half the games. So far through 27 appearances, he has 11 goals and 29 assists for 40 total points, along with a +8 plus/minus rating. (Last season he was +3.)
The future looks bright for Parekh, who is described as an elite skater with great vision, good hands and a high hockey IQ. Whoever does end up drafting him, will have an exciting prospect on their hands.