Position: Center or Right Wing
Height/Weight: 6’0” 190lbs
Birthday: December 27, 1998
Birthplace: Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada
Draft: 2017 Round 3, #79 overall
Team: Red Deer Rebels
The Red Wings chose Lane Zablocki in the third round of the 2017 NHL draft hoping to get a solid middle-six forward who plays a simple game with a physical edge. In other words, Lane Zablocki was very much in-line with Ken Holland’s search for a more imposing Detroit team moving forward.
Coming off a solid year in the WHL playing first for the Regina Pats, and later for the Red Deer Rebels after a mid-season blockbuster trade. In all, Lane scored 28 Goals and had 26 assists for 54 points in 64 games played in the 2016-2017 WHL season.
What’s next for Lane, and how might he fit into the future of the Red Wings?
First, he has a fantastic name (full disclosure, the author of this post is named Lane, and there are very few Lanes so we need to support each other). Lane would have had an all-world name if he was a goalie, but that is not a world that we will know. So now, we have Lane Zablocki, potential forward for the Red Wings.
Now, to his actual hockey strengths. Lane has mainly been praised for his shooting accuracy, passing abilities, versatility, and the fact that he smartly keeps his game simple. Most likely, he projects to be a bottom-six forward who can play center or right wing that won’t get the team in trouble with solid, responsible play. As a result, Lane fits in with Holland’s high floor, low-ceiling draft strategy in 2017.
What is the best outcome for Lane and the Red Wings? Lane’s ceiling has been compared to Paul Byron, a waiver pickup by the Montreal Canadiens. Paul Byron was a borderline bottom-line center who blossomed as a complementary forward who is able to slot in comfortably throughout all lines. Byron did have a breakout season this year with 22 goals and 21 assists (albeit with 22.5% shooting), which is incredible value from a waiver-wire addition. Note that during this time, Byron found himself on the top line playing with Radulov and Galchenyuk, so this hints at situation like Abdelkader when he played with Datsyuk.
What needs work:
While Lane lacks glaring weaknesses, he hasn’t flashed any elite skills. His shooting is solid and accurate, his skating is fine, but nothing stands out yet that could be a game-changer at the NHL level. Another knock on him has been a lack of consistency in his performances throughout the season. Finally, his discipline on the ice raises questions, as he sometimes takes bad penalties.
Again, like with Lane’s ceiling potential, there are flashes of Abdelkader with the exception of the work-ethic concern. Now, having an Abdelkader 2.0 with potential for middle-six centering abilities for a 3rd round pick is far from a bad thing, so long as the contract reflects actual value to the team.
The final area of concern is who Lane looks to model his game after: Brad Marchand. While any team would like to have a scorer like Marchand, this role model won’t endear him to the Red Wings fan base. If he turns out to actually be as good a player as Marchand is, I don’t think the Wings fans will mind.
Lane Zablocki is a solid 3rd round pick for the Red Wings. With a relatively high floor, and the ceiling of a solid middle-six complementary scorer, Lane is a player that most teams can use. While this is not currently one of Detroit’s many positions of need, it very well may be by the time Lane is ready for the NHL. Ideally, he will be a solid, versatile middle-six player on a flexible and reasonable contract.