The Carolina Hurricanes’ ECHL affiliate, the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, have signed former Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Ryan Zuhlsdorf for the 2020-21 season.
Ryan Zuhlsdorf Profile and Scouting Report
Drafted: Tampa Bay Lightning, 150th overall in 2015
Age: Turned 23 on July 1st
Weight: 187 lbs
2019-20: University of Minnesota of the NCAA (Big Ten), 37 games, 1 goal, 8 assists, 8 PIM, 5
Ryan Zuhlsdorf has been a key piece of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers for the past four years. Drafted in 2015 after a solid USHL campaign, Zuhlsdorf isn’t known for being a flashy player. Zuhlsdorf is solid in the defensive zone and is a good mobile and stickhandling defenseman.
Zuhlsdorf took a key role in his senior year, most of Minnesota’s blueline was filled with underclassmen. As a result, Zuhlsdorf played most of the team’s tougher minutes, spending the most time in the defensive zone and on Minnesota’s shorthanded pairing. He also took a leadership role, working to help his younger teammates improve.
Although it’s not his specialty, I do want to see Zuhlsdorf put further effort into improving his offensive game. He’s a great passer and good on the breakout, but it does feel as if he has more to provide offensively. At 5’11, it will be somewhat difficult for Zuhlsdorf to get a shot with minimal offensive production.
Zuhlsdorf’s ceiling projects to be a depth defenseman at the NHL level, but he has to develop in all facets of the game to get there. He’s more likely to develop to be a bottom-4 defenseman at the AHL level.
Personally, I drew a connection between Zuhlsdorf and the Minnesota Wild. Zuhlsdorf grew up in Minnesota, playing high school and college hockey there. He played USHL hockey in the same state as the Wild’s AHL affiliate, Iowa.
I thought Zuhlsdorf would get an AHL deal, not an ECHL one. If this is an organizational move, it’s smart for the Hurricanes. If not, I’m sort of puzzled by this move for Zuhlsdorf.
Best case scenario, this is a one-year “show me” deal before the organization gives him an AHL deal. Zuhlsdorf has the potential to become an NHLer one day, the Canes are betting on how he’ll get there.
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