New York Rangers prospect Sergei Zborovskiy blossoming offensively
New York Rangers prospect Sergei Zborovskiy has broken out in a big way since being drafted in 2015. He has matched or passed career highs in all offensive categories this season. The 19 year old has great size, making him an exciting up-and-coming prospect.
Sergei Zborovskiy was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2015 NHL Draft by the New York Rangers. At the time, many were confused by the Rangers attraction to the big, right-handed Russian. He was tabbed as a “stay-at-home” defenseman, mostly due to his size (6’4″) and limited puck moving skills.
I spoke to a Western Canadian scout recently who said he sees no NHL potential in Zborovskiy. I don't understand NYR's fascination with him.
— Adam Herman (@AdamZHerman) July 26, 2016
When Zborovskiy was drafted in 2015, he had played 2 seasons in the WHL, amassing 135 games. Over those two seasons, he only collected 44 points (11 goals, 32 assists). His draft profile was proving true, despite the young man’s big right-handed shot.
Fast-forward to 2016, and Zborovskiy is putting together an impressive offensive season. Through only 22 games this season, he tied his career high in points (25) and surpassed his career high in assists (19). Zborovskiy was named the Western Hockey League’s Player of the Week last week after leading the Regina Pats to a 2-0 week with 3 goals and 6 assists.
Perhaps his true coming out game came days ago when the Pats took on the Prince Albert Raiders. In a game that his team won in a landslide, 12-2, Zborovskiy lead the way with 7 points (2 goals and 5 assists).
Coming into the second week of December the young defenseman is tied for 10th in the WHL in points and leads the league in plus/minus (+39).
— Regina Pats (@WHLPats) December 5, 2016
The New York Rangers farm system has been lacking in defensive prospects for some time now. With Brady Skjei graduating to the big league team and the departure of Dylan McIlrath, New York is without a top tier prospect on the back end. Meanwhile, Hartford is currently occupied by Ryan Graves, a group of AHL journeymen, and some interesting NCAA signings.
While Zborovskiy has made his presence known in the WHL he must prove that he can capably make the jump to professional hockey. His best use for the Rangers at this time may not be on this team at all. With the Rangers lacking a top-4 defenseman, and a partner for Ryan McDonagh, the team is in a position yet again to be buyers at the deadline.
Considering the maturation of his game and offensive growth this season, teams should be interested in the massive Russian prospect. His right-handedness could prove valuable as well if a potential trade partner is looking for a prospective replacement for whoever they are trading. Including the big right-hander may become an option as a trade candidate for the Rangers in February.
In the end, the New York Rangers saw something that most scouts did not when they drafted Sergei Zborovskiy. At 19 years old, the young man will have every opportunity to prove his worth moving forward. It is up to him to make the most of his chances.