A former Minnesota high school star, Max Zimmer made the full-time move to the USHL this past season to play for the Chicago. While he didn't quite show the same dominance he did at the high school level, he had a more than respectable year and solidified his status as an NHL Draft prospect for this summer's Draft.
Player: Max Zimmer
Team: Chicago Steel(USHL)
Position: Left Wing
Height: 5'11" Weight: 175 lbs.
Stats: 55 games, 16 goals, 21 assists, 37 points, -2
Final NHL Central Scouting rank: 77th among North American skaters
What I Like:
Zimmer is an excellent north-south skater, capable of rushing the puck up the ice and using his speed to gain easy zone entry. He uses it both on offense and defensively where he can close out space, get into passing lanes and steal pucks. His first step is average, but he does move well laterally once he gets going. His speed is really an elite asset.
When Zimmer does handle the puck, he displays good patience, waiting for a play to develop or a teammate to open up rather than panicking and punting on possession.
Zimmer is a capable goal-scoring threat with a heavy wrist shot, and he's good at picking the upper corners of the net with it.
What I Don't Like:
-Doesn't play with the puck on his stick
Possession is king in the modern day NHL, and the more time a player spends with the puck on his stick, the better. Zimmer doesn't control the puck as often as a player that skates like he does should. As a result, he can sometimes go long stretches without making any sort of impact on the game. He needs to get better at anticipating the play and better at winning one-on-one puck battles to possess the puck more.
Zimmer can sometimes struggle to control hard or difficult passes. He also lacks the puck-handling creativity to beat defenders one-on-one. He has to rely on his feet to beat defenders rather than his hands, making him a bit one dimensional as an offensive threat.
NHL Central Scouting has Zimmer 77th, which roughly equates to just outside the 100 of the Draft once you factor in Europeans and goalies, while I have him 84th on my list, which roughly equates to 110-120 once you factor in guys I haven't seen. So we both have Zimmer going somewhere in the fourth or fifth round range. He's got a pro-level tool in his skating ability, and you just hope the rest of his game comes around at some point, which is about the best you're going to get in the later rounds of the Draft.
As you'd expect with a late round pick, Zimmer will be a draft-and-wait project pick. He's headed to the University of Wisconsin where he should get strong coaching and development from former NHL assistant Tony Granato. He'll get stronger and more battle-tested in the college game and has the potential to become decent two-way winger in the middle of an NHL teams line-up.