Friday, January 21, 2011

Who Is: Zemgus Girgensons

I'm a huge fan of feel-good stories of players who try to make it to the NHL coming from a non-traditional hockey market. For example, I personally felt that Anze Kopitar falling to the #11 spot in the 2005 was an absolute shame due to his extremely high upside.

Over the past year or so a new favourite of mine has been climbing his way through the junior ranks, now playing in the USHL. Zemgus Girgensons, a Latvian winger who sizes up to be 6'1" and 181 lbs., made the move to the American junior ranks prior to the 2009-2010 season and has been scorching the scoresheets ever since.

Girgensons started his North American hockey career playing for the minor league affiliate of the Eastern Junior Hockey League's (EJHL's) Green Mountain Glades. After racking up 29 points in 19 games for the affiliate squad, Zemgus was promoted to the team's main roster and didn't look out of place, finishing 6th in team scoring with 28 points in 23 games. While Girgensons numbers may not exactly jump out, he did as a depth player on a team full guys three or four years older than him.

This season Girgensons finds himself playing in the USHL for the newly-formed Dubuque Fighting Saints. Again used in a secondary scoring role behind his older peers, Zemgus is still performing well, sitting 4th in team scoring with 22 points in 27 games.

As a '94-born committed to the University of Vermont for the '12-'13 season, Girgensons has plenty of time to prove himself as a legitimate NHL talent since he isn't even draft-eligible until the 2012 draft. Based on the amount of talent available in 2012 draft from the CHL and Europe, the odds of getting drafted early in the first round will be against Girgensons. That said, I have a hunch that the team willing to gamble on the young Latvian will be laughing a few years down the road.

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