Looking back on the 2012 NHL draft class, it’s doubtful that anyone aside from the deepest of draft wonks recognized the name “Daniel Zaar” when the Blue Jackets selected him in the sixth round as the 212st overall pick.
If you asked him, I suspect he’d be fine with that.
The 22 year old Swede has built his game around getting to places he’s not expected, and making the most of his opportunities. Why should his professional career be any different?
Gifted with an exceptional shot and strong “hockey sense”, Zaar was a standout player for Rogle BK’s U20 team in his draft year, posting 14 goals and 24 asssists, and put up similar numbers the follow season before being promoted to Rogle’s SHL club, where he took time to find his feet, but rebounded the following year with a 16-20-36 season.
After being loaned to Lulea HF for the 2014-2015 season, where Zaar put up 9 more goals and 18 assists in 55 games, he made his way to North America for his first full season with the Lake Erie (now Cleveland) Monsters, where he found a perfect match for his speed and skills.
Leading the club in goal scoring, he put up a 21-22-43 season, followed by a strong performance in the Calder Cup playoffs that included the game winning goal in the first game of the Calder Cup Finals against the Hershey Bears, and a key goal in game three en route to their championship.
Zaar will be headed into a contract year, and is likely to start the season in Cleveland, where he will be playing a top six role for the Monsters. Barring something unexpected, it’s likely the organization will be bringing him up for a look at the NHL level when injuries or other circumstances create an opportunity.
If his previous performance is any indication, I strongly suspect that Daniel Zaar will make the most of it.