Credit: Jeff McIntosh

My personal favorite name in the draft, Zemgus Girgensons, checks in at number 16 in our Draft profiles. Girgensons has made a bit of a name for himself in the USHL and it’s not hard to see why as the young Latvian put up 19 goals and 25 assists in 43 games along with a plus/minus rating of plus-17 and 57 penalty minutes. Girgensons’ numbers were good for third in the Eastern Conference of the USHL and also put up 4 points in just under two games in the playoffs. Unfortunately, Girgensons suffered a broken jaw in Dubuque’s second playoff game of the year, ending his season. This was preceded by a 49 point season in 51 games in the USHL, quite the impressive scoring tip.

Zemgus added to his fantastic year by being an assistant captain on the Latvian World Junior team. In six games for Latvia, Girgensons scored two goals along with a minus-6 rating and 6 penalty minutes.

Vitals

Height: 6’1

Weight: 201 pounds

Position: Center

Born: January 5, 1994

What People In The Know Know

Luther Xue, SB Nation Dallas

Girgensons is a big fella (6’2″ and around 200 lbs) and he uses that body well while playing a gritty, in-your-face, two-way game. You talk about power forwards in this draft and Girgensons is the clear-cut prototype. He’s a solid skater with good straight-line speed and is pretty agile for his size. Girgenson’s is as strong as an ox and won’t be worked off pucks easily. He’s a tough forechecker and a solid defensive center (one of the best two-way guys in the draft). He does get into a bit of trouble though as he might be too aggressive and he racks up the penalty minutes (69 PIM this year, third most on his team).

He has a really good shot, not great though, and has limited play making ability. He’s a fine passer, but his vision can be limited. Most of his scoring opportunities will come as a result of him just flat out working his ass off and fighting his way to pucks. He’ll need a lot of offensive seasoning at the next levels as he’s not the type of guy that you’ll count on to carry a team scoring-wise. He’s a willing worker though so there’s no reason to believe that he won’t get a lot better on offense.

Scott Mayfield, Islanders’ Prospect

Zemgus Girgensons is extremely skilled. He kind of came out of nowhere and was one of Dubuque’s power guys the year they won the championship. He was a young guy. I know he was extremely skilled, fast and worked well in the corners.

The Hockey News

The draft is often framed as an opportunity to nab the next superstar, but for many scouts, landing a safe roster player is just as satisfying.

Enter Girgensons, who may not have 100-point potential but entices nonetheless.

“You’ve got yourself at least a solid third-line center, every time you need a faceoff or a penalty kill,” said one scout. “If a team is really hurting for players, he might be able to step right in after a year in Vermont.”

The Latvian is committed to join the Catamounts, though Kelowna of the WHL has made brash predictions the big pivot will join the Rockets. He has already played three seasons in North America and came up huge for his home country in the WJC, where the minnow escaped relegation. Girgensons was a workhorse in Alberta and has really proven himself in the USHL.

“He’s a beast, man, a beast,” the scout said. “Just solid and strong. When he puts his shoulder down on the rush, he’s difficult to stop.”

I’m not going to lie, I love Girgensons and it’s not just because of his fantastic name. He’s a prototypical center who has the size and the skill to have a huge impact on a team that can surround him with some fast, skilled wingers.

While he is currently ranked only 18th amongst North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, I like Girgensons to go surprisingly high in the first round, possibly even has high as 10th or 11th. I think Zemgus has a great future in the NHL and is going to very quickly come up on a lot of people’s radars.