Player: Zach Osburn
Height: 5’10” Weight: 184 lbs.
Team: Michigan State University(Big Ten)
Final NHL Central Scouting rank: Not ranked
What I Like
Smart with the puck
I guess this is the section where I mention the other under-sized defenseman from Michigan State that was overlooked in the Draft despite putting up good numbers for the Spartans by the name of Torey Krug. They’re not the same player. Krug’s numbers were much better, though I would argue his supporting cast was much better as well. Krug was also built really solid, especially in his lower body, while Osburn isn’t quite as strong.
But I do see some similarities in terms of the way they control the game with the puck on their stick. Osburn is a really smart player that moves the puck effectively in all three zones. He’s really good at running a power play too. He doesn’t have the same booming slap shot as Krug, but does generate shots at an impressive rate, and gets enough through to put up respectable offensive numbers.
Osburn isn’t a blazing fast straight-line skater, but I like his four-direction mobility. He moves laterally well enough to make up for some of his lack of size. He handles puck pressure really well with the ability to change directions quickly and skate his way out of trouble.
What I Don’t Like
Being under six feet tall isn’t a death sentence(see: Krug), but it is a hindrance. Osburn is a decent one-on-one defender, but really struggles protecting the front of his own net.
Tough to get a good read
Osburn was tied for the second-worst +/- rating in the entire NCAA last year with a -24. But looking at the circumstances, it’s hard to know how much of that was actually his fault. He logged a lot of minutes, and played a lot of them against the other team’s top competition, and the team in front of him never scored when he was on the ice. He was asked to do everything and while he did a lot of good things, it was a futile situation. It’s tough to know how he would have looked playing a more normal role.
Central Scouting didn’t rank Osburn this year, though they typically focus a little bit more on first year draft eligibles. The fact that Osburn was passed over last year, while putting up similar numbers for Michigan State, doesn’t bode well, But this year’s draft is a lot weaker, and there’s a possibility a team may be interested in Osburn this time around. If he is picked, it will almost definitely be in the final three rounds.
Osburn should continue to be a focal point on Michigan State’s defense as they attempt to rebuild under new head coach Danton Cole. Hopefully a better surrounding cast will allow Osburn to continue to shine. Being an older player, he could potentially be ready to sign a pro contract as soon as next season if he really takes off. Osburn likely doesn’t have top pairing upside, but could play a serviceable role as a puck-moving defenseman at the NHL level.