Zayde Wisdom, the 2020 fourth-round draft pick, has six professional goals in his seven-game professional. He is currently tied with Max Willman to lead the Flyers AHL affiliate, Lehigh Valley Phantoms in goals. Both Phantom players are also tied for third in goals scored in the AHL. Wisdom, who is 18 years old, shouldn’t even be playing in the AHL.
There is an agreement between the NHL and the Canadian Hockey League. Paragraph C of the agreement basically states that any player signed by an NHL team out of the CHL who is not on the NHL roster will continue to play for their junior team. The player will not play for the AHL affiliate until they are twenty years old. The only exception is an injury rehab stint, should the player be injured playing the NHL, and obviously COVID-19 shutting down the CHL.
Wisdom should be playing for his junior team in the OHL, the Kingston Frontenacs, where he was second on the team in points during the 2019-2020 season. However, due to the Covid-19 shutdown of the OHL, Wisdom is making the most of his opportunity as he is averaging just over a point per game in the AHL. He has eight points, six goals, and two assists, in seven games.
The Flyers did not have a third-round pick in this past year’s draft. Chuck Fletcher saw an opportunity and traded away picks 116 and 147 in order to trade up to snag Wisdom, drafting him with the first selection of the fourth round. The pick, so far, seems like a steal.
At the time, TSN’s Bob McKenzie had Wisdom ranked as the 77th best player in the draft. Central Scouting had him as high as the 54th best prospect. Wisdom has been fantastic for the Phantoms so far. So much so, people were starting to question if the Flyers should Promote Wisdom to the NHL when the Flyers were missing six starters.
Chuck Fletcher stated the following after selecting Zayde with the first pick of the fourth round:
“I think he’s got an understated skill level. His hands are pretty good. He has a good shot, he has good instincts. He goes to the right places on the ice. When you combine that with his relentless pursuit of pucks, his ability to forecheck and finish checks, it’s a pretty attractive package.”
See below as Fletcher points out Wisdom’s good instincts and how he goes to the right places:
In his first season playing in the OHL for Kingston, Wisdom scored only ten points in 60 games. He finished the 2018-2019 season with three goals and seven. assists. The following year, Wisdom’s offensive skills exploded, scoring 29 goals and 30 assists in 62 games played. He was second on Kingston behind 15-year-old Canadian Phenom, Shane Wright. Wright, who had a better PPG average than Connor McDavid in his rookie season, finished the season with 66 points, 39 goals, and 27 assists.
The questions regarding Wisdom’s offensive output started. Was his efficiency simply because he was playing with Wright? I think Zayde is answering that question right now in the AHL. There is something special brewing in Lehigh Valley.
Destined to be in Orange and Black
Wisdom has had some very good NHL players supporting his young career. Most notably, Wayne Simmonds, who met Wisdom when he and his younger brother Zaccharya, played in ball hockey tournaments that were sponsored by Simmonds in Toronto. Simmonds along with former Flyer Chris Stewart has been
Wisdom described his style, focusing on work ethic”
“I’ve worked hard and grinded my whole life to get to this moment right now. It feels amazing to be here finally. I would say most of my game would be just my hard work and perseverance and my willingness to go to the dirty areas.”
Speaking of grinding, here is Wisdom “grinding” out a goal last season:
So, will Wisdom make his NHL debut this year? With the WHL starting up, the OHL is the only league in the CHL that isn’t playing.
His Time Will Come
Wisdom will get his chance, however probably not this season. At just 18-years-old, the Flyers have the opportunity to “slide” Zayde’s contract for two seasons. With the OHL looking to get started again, we can expect Wisdom to move back to Kingston.
Wisdom has done everything to prove he can play in the professional ranks. However, there just isn’t a spot for him right now. Plus what is wrong with one more year of growing down in the OHL? He will be playing next to a generational talent in Wright, who is drawing comparisons to Connor McDavid? Wisdom will also make a strong push to be on Team Canada for the WJC U-20.
Regardless, Wisdom will play for the orange and black one day, and it will be awesome!
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre