2016-17 Team: Red Deer Rebels (#19)
Date of Birth: December 27, 1998
Place of Birth: Wetaskiwin, Alberta
Ht: 6’0″ Wt: 185 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2017 first-year eligible
- THW (Pike’s Picks): not ranked (final)
- Future Considerations: 68th (final)
- ISS: not ranked (May)
- Bob McKenzie: not ranked (Mid-season)
- Craig Button: 93rd (final)
- The Hockey News: not ranked (final)
If there’s an “under-the radar” prospect in the 2017 NHL Draft class, it may be Red Deer Rebels center Lane Zablocki. He hasn’t made a big splash in the draft rankings released by the major agencies – he earned the 52nd spot among North American skaters from Central Scouting – but he’s quietly been a very important piece of the puzzle in both Regina and Red Deer this past season.
Following a strong, if unspectacular, rookie WHL season with Regina, Zablocki was a big part of a mid-season trade by the Pats designed to bolster their roster for a big playoff run. Because of Zablocki’s performance with the Rebels, you could make an argument that Red Deer may have won the swap. Overall, Zablocki put up 54 points (and 28 goals) in 64 games this past season. He was basically a jack-of-all-trades in two different markets, working anywhere from the first line to the checking line depending on circumstances. He could kill penalties or work on the power play as well. While Zablocki isn’t overly flashy, he gets the job done and has rather quietly put himself in the midst of the draft picture. His playing style and versatility could see him project as a strong complementary player in the NHL, similar to somebody like Paul Byron who has played up and down the lineup in both Calgary and Montreal.
The downside of Zablocki’s journey up and down the depth chart in two different markets was likely that his consistency suffered, in that he had to adjust to changing circumstances quite a bit (and sometimes didn’t adjust as quickly as coaches expected). He’s good at everything, but arguably lacks any elite attributes, which is probably a factor that has placed him where he is in the draft discussion. That said, his versatility and adaptability make his chances of pro success pretty decent compared to some of his counterparts. His NHL ceiling isn’t amazingly high, but it might be easier for him to make it than it is for more prominent players in this year’s draft.
NHL Draft Projection
Zablocki projects to go somewhere in the third or fourth round.
“Lane Zablocki is one of those character players every team likes to have. He can play top line duty or fourth line minutes depending on how the team is doing. Mixes skill with toughness and is not afraid to get his nose dirty. He has trouble staying consistent but has surpassed the 25-goal mark and will finish with 100+ penalty minutes. Likes to park himself in front of the net and dig for rebounds and wreak havoc for opposing defencemen. Has a quick release when he shoots but is also a playmaker who likes to look for his streaking linemates down the ice. Has good speed for his size but could spend more time battling in the corners to be more effective along the wall.” – Marshall Mackinder, Hockey Now.
Lane Zablocki is having a night. Just scored his 26th goal of the year to go with the three assists he had in the first period. 5-0 Rebels
— TROY GILLARD (@Troy_Gillard) March 12, 2017
- Good, accurate shooter
- Effective passer
- Plays a smart, simple game
- Versatile; can play many roles
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Doesn’t really have any elite attributes
- Sometimes lacks consistency in his performances
- Discipline is sometimes a concern (in terms of taking bad penalties)
Most likely, Zablocki will be a bottom-six center at the NHL level. But he could become a complementary forward like Paul Byron that can play up and down the lineup.
Risk – 1/5, Reward – 3/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense 7.5/10, Defense 7.5/10
Zablocki has not yet won any major awards.
Ryan Pike has covered the Calgary Flames and the NHL Draft extensively since 2010 as a Senior Writer for The Hockey Writers and Senior Contributing Editor of FlamesNation.ca. A member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, he lives in Calgary.