Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2020 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we look at Zayde Wisdom.
A fourth-round pick, 73rd overall in the 2018 OHL Priority Draft, Zayde Wisdom broke out in his second season in the league. The Kingston Frontenacs forward put up 29 goals and 30 assists for 59 points in 62 games before the season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He was part of helping the rebuilding Frontenacs be in playoff position when the season ended. This came one year after Wisdom struggled as an OHL rookie in 2018-19. He put up just three goals and seven assists for 10 points in 60 games for the worst team in the league.
Wisdom spent the 2017-18 season with the Toronto Junior Canadiens in the GTHL. He put up 15 goals and 53 points in 57 games. He helped the Junior Canadiens to the OHL Cup, where he would put up three goals and eight points in seven games helping to win the tournament. Wisdom, the son of bi-racial parents (his father is Jamaican and his mother is Metis), was raised by his mother and grandmother in Toronto. Faced with many challenges in his childhood, as profiled by Scott Wheeler in The Athletic, Wisdom is a player that one can’t help but cheer for.
Zayde Wisdom Scouting Report
Right Wing — shoots Right
Born July 7th, 2002 — Toronto, Ontario
Height 5’11” — Weight 195 lbs [180 cm/88 kg]
Wisdom is a little undersized but makes up for it with his skating. He is a high-energy player who never steps moving his feet. He has very good top-end speed but could stand to work on his first few steps and his acceleration. Wisdom avoids defenders both with and without the puck thanks to his good lateral agility and edgework. He has good crossovers and accelerates out of his turns. Wisdom also has good lower-body strength. This helps Wisdom to fight through checks and he is tough to knock off the puck. He wins his battles along the boards and in front of the net.
Wisdom spent much of the season playing with wonder kid Shane Wright and fellow 2020 NHL Draft prospect Martin Chromiak. He did the dirty work on the line, getting in quickly on the forecheck, grinding for loose pucks in the corners and creating havoc in front of the net. He is an extremely hard worker, who chases the puck down, forces opponents into mistakes and creates chances. Wisdom brings his own offensive skills as well. He is a very good puck handler and is able to lead the rush through the neutral zone and produce effective zone entries. He keeps his head up and had good vision. Wisdom is a good passer, making a quick move to open up a passing lane and setting up a teammate for a scoring chance.
Wisdom can also score goals. He has good hand-eye coordination and quick hands. Wisdom uses these in front of the net to tip in teammates’ shots, pounce on rebounds and to one time passes to the back of the net. His soft hands also allow him to beat goalies in tight. He has an accurate wrist shot and gets good power on it from further out. He has improved his release, as it is much quicker than it was as a rookie, but could stand to improve a little more though. Wisdom has a knack for getting open without the puck. When he gives it up, he keeps his feet moving to find open ice and put himself in a position to take a pass from his teammates. Once he gets the puck, he fires it on the net quickly.
Wisdom brings his intense work ethic to his own zone as well. He keeps his feet moving and is willing to support the defence with strong backpressure against the rush as well as plenty of support against the cycle game. He is willing to battle down low. Wisdom also helps to clear the front of the net. He is a smart player who puts himself in good positions. Wisdom uses his stick to cut down passing lanes. He is also able to create turnovers with a poke check. Once those turnovers are created, he is able to transition the puck up the ice quickly as well. Wisdom is also effective on the penalty kill.
Projection and Comparison
Wisdom’s high-end work ethic and ability to play with highly skilled players make him an enticing prospect. It is unlikely that he will ever be a possession driver on his line. He could be a complimentary piece on a second or third line if his game continues to develop. While there are questions if he is a product of his linemates, it appears that he has some of his own skills as well. Wisdom’s game is reminiscent of Pat Verbeek, however, this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and potential.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Zayde Wisdom that are available on youtube and twitter.
That's 31 goals for Wright! On pace to outscore McDavid in their Exceptional Status seasons! pic.twitter.com/c77DSCqieM
— Tony Ferrari (@theTonyFerrari) February 9, 2020
Quite like this sequence from #2020NHLDraft eligibles Martin Chromiak and Zayde Wisdom.
Chromiak gains the zone and is able to fight off the much bigger Kevin Bahl, then Chromiak and Wisdom go to work causing havoc below the dots. pic.twitter.com/mUwPVPK1WH
— Brandon Holmes (@BHolmes_Hockey) February 25, 2020
Terrible camera work but a nice drive and cut to the net by 2020 eligible Zayde Wisdom. pic.twitter.com/cSnNYrvfmc
— Sam (@DraftLook) April 12, 2020
— NHL Prospects ? (@NHLPC) March 2, 2020
This is a really great zone entry and setup by Zayde Wisdom (2020). Really nice sleeper for the draft this year, super strong along the boards and quite a bit of skill on the puck. pic.twitter.com/iOlvhMiVLq
— Sam (@DraftLook) April 8, 2020
— Josh Tessler (@JoshTessler_) January 25, 2020
Zayde Wisdom now one goal away from 30.
And if @bouthockey hasnt told us enough its not all from playing with Shane Wright.
— Tate Harris (@tateharris9) March 8, 2020
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Zayde Wisdom Main Photo:
OSHAWA, ON – FEBRUARY 12: Zayde Wisdom #74 of the Kingston Frontenacs protects the puck from Giovanni Vallati #11 of the Oshawa Generals during an OHL game at the Tribute Communities Centre on February 12, 2020, in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images)