Picture of Zack Ostapchuk’s season with Giants can’t be painted fully by his numbers


Ottawa Senators’ second-rounder has 12 goals and 26 points through 40 WHL games, but he’s a factor in various facets for Vancouver.

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Zack Ostapchuk says that getting drafted in the second round by the Ottawa Senators last summer hasn’t had him feeling the need to change his game to chase after more goals and assists.

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There’s been no stats static chattering away in his head, according to Ostapchuk.

“Stats have never been a huge part of my game. Obviously they are nice and I’d like to put up numbers but it’s never been something that’s worried me too much,” the Vancouver Giants’ 18-year-old multi purpose forward said.

“After the draft, Ottawa told me, ‘Don’t change you. We like you.’ That’s my game.”

Ostapchuk is a 6-foot-3, 198-pounder who can motor, and when NHL teams came asking before last July’s draft who he modeled his playing style after he told them Montreal Canadiens winger Josh Anderson, the power-forward-type who happened to be front-and-centre at the time as part of Montreal’s run to the Stanley Cup Final.

Draft pundits had Ostapchuk as a third- or fourth-rounder — TSN’s Bob McKenzie ranked him No. 95 overall, for instance — but Giants general manager Barclay Parneta said then that the number of calls he was receiving from NHL clubs had him thinking Ostapchuk had a chance to slip into the second round.

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Ottawa took him with the seventh pick of the second round, or No. 39 overall. They signed him to his three-year, entry level contract at training camp in September.

Through 40 games with Vancouver, Ostapchuk has 12 goals and 26 points. That’s a little off the per-game pace he had in the BC hub season in 2020-21, when he totaled seven goals and 16 points in the abbreviated 22-game campaign.

Parneta says there was never any concern among Vancouver brass that Ostapchuk would start to focus on individual numbers to increase his stock. He remains a factor in various facets. I have forechecks. I have block shots. I have penalty-kills. He plays the last shift of the game when Vancouver’s protecting a lead. He can play both center and wing.

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“He’s smart enough and mature enough to know that further developing his all-around game is what helps our team right now and also helps his own future,” Parneta said.

Ostapchuk maintains he didn’t feel pressure because of his draft standing coming back to play for the Giants after being reassigned by the Senators. He did have company in that regard with the Giants. Vancouver started the season with three signed NHL prospects, with winger Fabian Lysell (Boston Bruins 2021 first-rounder); and center Justin Sourdif (Florida Panthers 2020 third-rounder) joining Ostapchuk.

“I was able to talk to them,” said Ostapchuk. “That helped a lot.

“I think nothing has really changed too dramatically.”

There are things that have changed, however, including the Giants’ roster. Sourdif was dealt to the Edmonton Oil Kings at the Jan. 17 trade deadline. The team also moved defenseman Tanner Brown at the trade deadline in a swap with the Winnipeg Ice. They were the team’s two-longest-tenured veterans, dealt away due to Vancouver’s struggles in the standings.

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Ostapchuk is the Giants’ old guard now, the active leader in career games played for Vancouver with 112. He plays like that matters to him. It feels like he’s tried to become even more of a tone-setter for the club and Parneta commends him for “setting such a good example with his work ethic and his determination of him.”

Vancouver’s in a 3-8-0-0 route right now. Part of the troubles for the Giants (19-25-2-0) can be tied directly to their season series with the Victoria Royals (14-30-4-1), who have gone 8-2-0-0 so far this season against Vancouver.

The Giants and the Royals wrap-up their 12-game set with a doubleheader this weekend, starting with a Friday meeting at the Langley Events Centre. A strong showing this weekend would undoubtedly give Vancouver a push for the stretch drive.

“We’re going to have to play desperate,” Ostapchuk said. “We’re going to play with a lot of compete at all times. We need to play a full 60 minutes. We haven’t been doing that. If we can correct that, I think we’ll be just fine.”

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twitter:@SteveEwen

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