If you haven’t heard of Zachary Gallant, you have now.
Ontario based scouts have had a lot of fun watching the 15-years-old Mississauga Rebels star this season, and for good reason. Many people didn’t have Gallant on their radar before the season, but now there is talk that the Oakville, Ontario native could go top ten in the Ontario Hockey League Draft later this year.
After spending time with the Toronto Young Nats during the 2013-2014 season (coached by former Toronto Maple Leafs star Wendel Clark), Gallant moved over to the Mississauga Rebels for his minor midget season this year. His real shining moment came this year at the Toronto Titans Minor Midget tournament earlier this year, a great event showcasing the best OHL draft eligible prospects in Ontario. In eight games last year, Gallant tied with Cole Purboo to lead the tournament with nine points for the 5th ranked Greater Toronto Hockey League team as of early February. The Rebels weren’t able to grab the gold, but they still managed a silver after losing to the Don Mills Flyers in the shootout in the finals.
Gallant’s play this year didn’t go unnoticed by teams in the Ontario Junior Hockey League, a Junior A league that is one step below the Ontario Hockey League. Gallant was spectacular in his first two games with the Oakville Blades, scoring on his very first shot against the Stouffville Spirit before putting up a two point performance against the Lindsay Muskies the night after. It’s rare to see young players competing in the minor midget, known as “affiliated players”, to have such an impact right away, but Gallant was able to earn his time with his play that even saw him man the power-play at one point against the Spirit.
Gallant has a lot of traits that make him valuable at such a young age. Known to be a fast skater, Gallant seems to always know where to go in the offensive zone, and while that sounds quite basic, he made some older, more experienced opponents look silly by finding his way into scoring areas fairly well. Even in his first two OJHL games, playing players five years older, he looked like one of the better players on every shift. His defensive work could use a bit of extra seasoning, but the way he controls the play with his puck, it makes it tough to deny that this kid is going to be a good, solid prospect in the NHL someday.
Next up for Gallant is the Canadian Winter Games in Prince George, B.C., where he will represent Team Ontario in late February. The tournament has previously featured current NHL stars such as Sidney Crosby, Nathan MacKinnon and Steven Stamkos in recent years, so there will obviously be some interest in the overall event. Gallant will be surrounded by great offensive talents, such as Ryan McLeod and Owen Tippett, giving the young rising star a lot of chances to really succeed. A strong effort there, as well as at the OHL Cup in March, could really help him rise into the top ten in the OHL Draft in early April, and ultimately begin preparing for the NHL Draft in 2017.