IN THE SIGHTS OF THE CH? | “I am the best offensive defender in this draft”

IN THE SIGHTS OF THE CH? | “I am the best offensive defender in this draft”
IN THE SIGHTS OF THE CH? | “I am the best offensive defender in this draft”

“If the best available player on our roster is a defenseman, then we will be forced to select him.”

Between now and the draft, TVA Sports and The Journal will publish and broadcast several reports on the players that the Canadian could obtain with its precious first choice on Friday June 28.

During his end-of-season review, Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes made this statement when asked about the strategy he planned to use for the 2024 NHL draft.

Moments later, Hughes added that “if we draft fifth or sixth and the best option is a fullback, we’ll have to evaluate the options of moving back or forward.”

If we read between the lines, the fact that the CH boss uses the term “forced” to describe a scenario where he would draft a defender and that he openly admits that he would consider moving his selection in the face of such a situation is an option. revealing at will: the CH is targeting an attacker at the next auction.

The current situation in terms of young players/prospects within the team is known: the number of promising full-backs is high, while the succession of attackers is much less important.

One plus one equals two, the choice of the Habs in June, in terms of position, appears quite simple. But not so fast…

“I am the best offensive defender in this draft”

Somewhere in the Ontario Junior League, someone named Zayne Parekh has been terrorizing goalies for two years. His record this season: 96 points, including 33 goals, in 66 games.

At only 17 years old, this harvest allowed him to take eighth place in the entire OHL.

Ah yes, important clarification. Parekh is… a defender.

“I am the best offensive defender in this draft,” asserts the young man without even hesitation in an interview with

“I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging, but I’m confident in my abilities. I can generate what I want.

Do you want more? Last year, in his first junior season, the right-handed back broke the circuit record for the number of goals scored (20) by a 16-year-old defender. The former brand was owned by Rick Corriveau since 1988.

Corriveau had registered his 19e goal at his 63e match of the season. Parekh scored his 20e during his 41e match.

You know what I mean?

“I wasn’t the best offensively”

Zayne Parekh is the third boy in a family of three. He’s been playing hockey for…practically forever.

“With my two brothers playing, I always saw them on the ice growing up. My father never played, but he is a huge hockey fan. He watches every possible match and I often saw him react to the games. So without much surprise, having been raised in this type of family where hockey was always present, I too wanted to experiment. At two and a half years old, I started skating and… I never stopped!”

Zayne Parekh’s style of play is spectacular. His mobility and puck skills sometimes give the impression that he is a fourth forward.

But remember, this ability he has to generate offense is not innate.

“I played with older players for a long time, so I wasn’t the best offensively, but when I came back with guys my age, at 15, the game started to slow down. I then started to have a lot of fun. Everything seemed easier. I could experiment with things and that’s how, quietly, my offensive instinct developed.”

Ready to do anything to progress defensively

The perfect hockey player does not exist. While Parekh is clearly above the vast majority of junior-aged players offensively, he still has a way to go defensively.

As much as his audacity serves him well when the time comes to produce something, his positioning sometimes makes him vulnerable to enemy attacks.

“There is a lot of room for improvement here,” humbly admits the main person concerned.

Parekh, however, seems like a boy who is very invested in this mission to do better in his territory.

“I think I improved a lot defensively this year and I’m happy about that, because that was one of my main goals. I talk to my coaches a lot […] I also try to compete more during my confrontations in training and I feel that carries over into matches […] I know how important the defensive side is in the NHL.

He still finished the season with a differential of +39.

Already met a few times by the CH

When Zayne Parekh talks about him being the “best attacking fullback” in the upcoming selection session, he has the numbers and output to back his statement.

All of this brings us back to our premise. If Kent Hughes’ turn comes in June and he finds himself ahead of Zayne Parekh, what will he do?

Currently, the young man has been met at least twice by Montreal, including once in person, in Saginaw (where he plays).

“They especially wanted to know if I was going to remain the same type of player once in the NHL,” confides Parekh. They also asked me how competitive I was. I told them that I was definitely one. I want to win. That’s all.”

Photo credit: Screenshot

Does the Canadian need a defender more than an attacker currently? No. But you don’t have to dig far to find cases where the club, by prioritizing its needs over talent, has sunk itself.

And Parekh has talent in spades.

“Montreal is a historic team. All hopefuls without exception would be happy to be drafted there,” says the friendly young man.

And who could he see himself playing with in Montreal?

“The club is very well endowed behind! I know Guhle is a great player and I think we could make an effective pair. That would be cool!”



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