November 25, 2022

Koehn Ziemmer jumping up draft rankings with impressive early-season play

Koehn Ziemmer is starting to get the hype he deserves.

The Mayerthorpe, Alberta product is off to a red-hot start to the season, tearing up the Western Hockey League as a 17-year-old.

Ziemmer, third in league scoring, sits only behind Connor Bedard for all draft-eligible players in the entire Canadian Hockey League with 35 points (15 goals, 20 assists) in 21 games. Aside from just racking up the points, Ziemmer has been remarkably consistent, tallying points in 13 straight games and 19 of 21 for the Prince George Cougars. 

“Ziemmer is most definitely a talented finisher,” FCHockey regional scout Mitch Savard said. “He’s an intelligent player offensively. He gets himself into soft areas of the ice where he’s able to receive passes and use his shot, which is his best asset.”

That asset is what makes Ziemmer such an intriguing talent.

Scorers always catch the eye of scouts before anything else, and Ziemmer is proving he’s capable of scoring with the best of them at the junior level. His knack for finding the back of the net has him sitting fifth in the WHL in goals, just four off the league lead. To go along with his goal-scoring abilities, Ziemmer also has a great pair of hands which he likes to use in tight.

Ziemmer, listed at No. 45 on FCHockey’s Preliminary rankings for the 2023 NHL Draft, is looking to work his way up the draft boards and into the first round. Helping him along is his tag-team partner and projected first-round selection, Riley Heidt.

The two like to wreak havoc on the man advantage, using each other on opposite sides of the ice, causing the goaltender to pick his poison.

“Ziemmer and Heidt compliment each other so well, Ziemmer is the pure finisher, and Heidt is the playmaker,” Savard said. “They play opposite walls and like to try and tee each other up.”

Aside from a scoring touch, hard work without the puck always catches the eye of pro scouts. Ziemmer, a hound on the forecheck, is relentless in his efforts to retrieve the puck.

It’s certainly something that has already opened eyes among the scouting fraternity.

“He plays extremely hard below the opponent’s goal line,” Savard said. “He uses his body to try and separate defenders from the puck and is very effective using his stick to pick-pocket opponents.”

As the NHL becomes driven more by fast and agile skaters, Ziemmer will need to improve his skating, though it is not a detriment to his game.

But adding a more explosive element will surely give Ziemmer a leg up — both on the ice and on the draft boards.

“I think the area he needs most work on is his skating,” Savard said. “He’s not the quickest guy so he can’t always separate himself from pressure when carrying the puck.”

With the hot streak he’s currently riding and the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship a little more than a month away, Ziemmer will likely have the attention of Hockey Canada’s front office. Team Canada general manager James Boyd has a plethora of talent to choose from, but Ziemmer is all but likely on his radar with his eye-popping performance.

Ziemmer, who will be 18 when the World Juniors rolls around, also has his eyes set on forcing his way into the first round as the draft rolls around next spring. A camp appearance, and even a longshot shot at Canada’s roster, could only bolster that. 

In all fairness to Ziemmer, he’s already done that himself so far.

NHL Central Scouting has given him an upgraded ranking of ‘A’ from his original ‘B’ in their Preliminary Players to Watch List, indicating a candidate to be selected in the first round. A ‘B’ grade projects either a second or third-round.

Since the original rankings were released on October 25th, Ziemmer has produced 18 points in the subsequent 11 games.

His exceptional performance of late is what has given Ziemmer his bump in the projections.

“I had him more mid-second round at the start of the year, but he’s definitely climbing,” Savard said. “I see Heidt as a guy that can go around 20, so it’s hard not to think Ziemmer is going to end up being at least a late first-rounder if he keeps this up.”

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