The latest name I have for you to keep an eye out for is 18-year-old Zaccharya Wisdom, a 6’1, 172-pound right winger who currently plays for the Cedar Rapids Rough Riders of the United States Hockey League (USHL).
Yes, before you can even ask, he is the younger brother of the Philadelphia Flyers’ 2020 4th-round pick Zayde Wisdom. Let me assure you though I am not writing about this young man because he’s a prospect who shares the same surname as a professional athlete. On the contrary, Zaccharya’s play this season has earned him this acclaim all on its own.
That said, if I had to describe his game in one word, it would be aggressive. Never missing the opportunity to make contact with the opposition, Wisdom has shown the ability this season to produce some of the most mind-erasing hits the USHL has seen in quite some time. Wisdom is far from a goon, though. He chooses to deliver these filling rattlers in order to create turnovers and regain puck possession. Hence, the reason why he has been so successful on the forecheck and his team has been able to create/capitalize on so many offensive chances this season.
In addition, Zaccharya has also been known to utilize his physical aggressiveness to stand out on the Rough Riders’ power play by not only crashing the crease but also establishing a net-front presence. In fact, Wisdom spends so much time parked in front of the opposition’s goaltender he should get his mail forwarded there! Moreover, while his willingness to take the physical abuse that comes with setting up shop there should be enough to earn him the respect of anyone who has played the game before. It is Zaccharya’s veteran-like ability (once there) to position his body in a way that prevents his opposition’s defenseman from being able to hinder his chances to deflect a shot or gain control of a rebound that sets him apart from others in his age group.
Given all of these traits listed above, it should come as no surprise when I tell you that Wisdom has posted 14 goals and 12 assists for 26 points in just 23 games played so far this season, which, if you do the math, is a 1.13 point per game average. A feat. that currently sees Zaccharya as not only the highest-scoring player on his team but among the USHL’s top ten in both goals and points scored as well.
Keep an eye on #26
Now, since we all know everyone will try to compare him to his brother in the months leading up to the draft, I’ll save you the trouble. While Zayde and Zaccharya both play the game as it should be, PHYSICAL. There are some areas where they are different. One main difference is their skating ability. While his older brother (who stands at only 5’10) has to rely on a lot of short choppy strides to gain momentum, the younger/taller Zaccharya tends to get up to speed faster with fewer, more powerful strides. These extended strides assist the younger of the two brothers in leading the offensive zone rush, or if he doesn’t have the puck, allows him to arrive right on time to put a nice juicy rebound in the back of the net.
Don’t get me wrong, by no means does all of this praise suggest that I think Zaccharya is a perfect prospect and, thus, will be taken along with the upper echelon of this year’s draft class. Wisdom (like most young players) should be viewed as a project (who will likely be taken in the later rounds) because he has a couple of things he will still need to work on before turning pro. One of which is his defensive game. While he is still a plus player this season, at times, I have seen him lose or fail to pick up his man when the opposition’s offense is set up in the Rough Riders’ defensive zone. Don’t fret, though; this is not because Wisdom is solely out to score goals, but rather that he has been caught unsuccessfully trying to pick off a pass or wipe a player of the puck entirely. I don’t know about you, but I much rather have to teach a player to dial it back a little who is pressing too hard rather than be stuck coaching one who isn’t trying hard enough!