Zach Nastasiuk sounds like the kind of player Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock is just going to love.
Drafted in the second round, 48th overall by the Red Wings, the Owen Sound Attack right-winger is the 6-foot-1, 190-pound son of a former Canadian Football League running back. And by all accounts, Nastasiuk shows up to play every single night, at both ends of the rink, and never seems to take a shift off.
“He’s a guy that plays a strong game in terms of his (competitive) level and his determination,” said Ryan Martin, the Red Wings assistant general manager of hockey administration. “He’s a really smart two-way player and he competes hard and plays big.”
Nastasiuk, who plays for former Grand Rapids Griffins head coach Greg Ireland in Owen Sound, finished fifth in Attack scoring in his second OHL season, recording 20 goals and 20 assists for 40 points in 62 games.
But he led the Attack in playoff scoring with four goals and seven assists in 12 games and went on to play a pivotal role for Canada’s gold-medal-winning squad at the world under-18 championship, recording two goals and two assists in seven contests.
From Jan. 9 on in the regular season and playoffs, Nastasiuk produced 16 goals and 18 assists for 32 points in 41 games, moving his Central Scouting ranking from 33rd at mid-season to 13th at end-of-year. The consensus among various scouting publications had Nastasiuk ranked as a second-round draft prospect and that’s exactly where Detroit nabbed him.
“Greg Ireland speaks very highly of his competitiveness and his work ethic, and it shows up on the ice in how he plays the game,” Martin said.
Whether it’s a key shot block, a big hit, or a timely goal, Nastasiuk is the type of guy who can get the job done. He plays on the wing but can line up down the middle. He can kill penalties and play on the power play.
Although not a great skater — his biggest area of weakness — the Red Wings believe he has shown flashes of skill that might make him more of a role player.
“He’s got a real good set of hands and he can be dangerous offensively,” Martin said.
Added Red Wings scout Jeff Finley: “He might be a third-line player, but he’s got upside to be a second-line winger. Just a real good useful player.”