2024 NHL Draft: CHL Defensemen, Part 2

The second part of our coverage of CHL defensemen that the Sens could take with the #7 pick

2024 NHL Draft: CHL Defensemen, Part 2
Photo by Ronnie Overgoor / Unsplash

Welcome back for Part 2 of our write-up of CHL Defensemen that the Ottawa Senators could potentially select with their 7th overall pick in the 2024 NHL Entry Draft.

As a reminder, you can catch up on all of our Draft Coverage right here.

Zayne Parekh

6'0, 181 lbs, Shoots Right


Zayne Parekh joined the Saginaw Spirit as a 16 year-old for the 2022-23 season after playing his final season of minor hockey for the Markham Majors "AAA" squad out of the GTHL. Saginaw used the 19th overall selection in the 2022 draft to select the Majors' product.

In that first season with Saginaw, Parekh exploded for 21 goals, 16 assists and 37 points in 50 games – a record number of goals for OHL defensemen under the age of 17. He was recognized with a spot on the CHL All-Rookie team at the end of that first campaign.

Which brings us to this season, where Parekh absolutely lit the league on fire to the tune of 33 goals and 63 assists for 96 points in 66 games – a full 21 more points than his next highest-scoring teammate. For his efforts, Parekh was awarded the Max Kaminsky trophy as the OHL's top defenseman.

After bowing out to the powerhouse London Knights 4-2 in the semi-finals, Saginaw got their revenge on the Knights in the Memorial Cup Final. Though he suffered an injury during the Spirit's play-off run, he was largely regarded as the engine driving their success.

Scouting Report:

Before we get into the specifics of what the scouts have to say about Parekh, let's just take a moment to appreciate one of the most electrifying draft videos I've ever seen:

I try not to insert too much of my own preferences into these write-ups as I am not a prospect expert but I must relay what my eyes tell me: this kid is absolutely dynamite.

Back to what the actual scouts have to say about Parekh: he's one of the best offensive talents to come through the CHL – ever. Though his stride is a bit choppy for the purposes of straight ahead speed, he is an elusive skater whose edgework is top tier. In their April write-up of Parekh, the folks at Dobber described his four-way mobility as "impressive". He has an explosive shot that he can get off in extremely tight quarters, and with pinpoint accuracy. OHL goalies were regularly overmatched. You will also find a general consensus among scouts that he sees the ice exceptionally well, and has superior offensive instincts. Even Corey Pronman, who is lower on Parekh than most, concedes he has "elite hockey sense." In short, all of the tools are there for Parekh offensively.

The observant among you have probably noticed that all of this acclaim seems to be focused on his offensive game. That's because Parekh has a reputation, that he's been trying hard to shake, of being something of a mediocre defender. Will Scouch, who is as low on Parekh as anyone out there, describes his defensive play along the boards as a "mixed bag at best". One issue that came up a lot in negative reviews of Parekh's defensive play was his struggles to break up the cycle, or handle heavy, physical players. There was the occasional comment about his seeming to be disengaged at times, but other write-ups dismissed those concerns as overblown.

Still, the consensus opinion of his defensive play is not all bad; there's a reason he's projected by most to be a top 10 pick. Parekh almost certainly won't be a defensive eraser in the NHL, but he's crafty with his stick, and his defensive zone reads are sound. He's not likely to be a shutdown guy, but he can mostly handle his own.

Though I personally am loath to make current NHL comparisons, a name that came up time and again when I was reading about Parekh was Evan Bouchard.


We've already talked about Parekh's ridiculous production, but it bears repeating that 33 goals for a defenseman is a big number. It's the 12th most goals ever by a defenseman in OHL history, and a quick peek at the list of guys ahead of him shows how rare it is to get to that level of production as a 17-year old. It's one thing to go nuts as a 19 year-old in the CHL, but as a 17 year-old? That's much, much rarer.

As far as rankings go, Elite Prospect's consolidated Rankings have him at #8, and Bob McKenzie has him at #7. I have seen him as high as #5 in a couple of places, and as low as #1o or #11 in others but #7 seems to be right in the sweet spot. It would seem like a decent chance that if the Sens want him, he'll be there.

Additional Materials:

A great profile of Parekh by Scott Wheeler

An in-depth write-up from All About the Jersey

Dobber Prospect Write-up

Carter Yakemchuk

6'3, 194 lbs, Shoots Right


Unlike Dickinson and Parekh, Yakemchuk has not always had the markings of a can't miss NHL prospect. In fact, Yakemchuk was only selected 65th overall in the 2020 WHL draft. Owing to COVID, he then missed the entirety of 2020-21 season, before finally suiting up for the Calgary Hitmen in 2021-22. His first year in the W was unimpressive, tallying a meagre 13 points in 56 games.

From there, though, his star has done nothing but rise. In the 2022-23 season, Yakemchuk shot up to 47 points in 67 games. Folks were starting to take notice of the big lad from Fort McMurray. For his efforts, Yakemchuk was named to Team Canada's squad at the U18 World Championships (not the World Juniors, for those who might be confused!)

The 2023-24 season built on his sophomore campaign, and Yakemchuk's 30 goals was second in the entire CHL to the aforementioned Parekh.

Scouting Report:

The first, most obvious, thing that every scouting report points out about Yakemchuk is that he's huge. At 6'3 and 194 lbs, he's still growing into his frame; it's not unreasonable to expect him to fill out to 205+ lbs. He's also unafraid to throw his weight around, as several scouting reports pointed out his penchant for the physical side of the game. Another related thing that came up a lot is his mean streak. Yakemchuk's 120 PIMs in just 66 games speak to a guy who's not afraid to take matters into his own hands.

Yakemchuk is more than just a big body, though, he's an offensive presence thanks to superior puckhandling skills and an absolute cannon of a shot. It's not very often that you see a player of Yakemchuk's size show off the kind of hands in the below video, let alone a defenseman:

Yakemchuk dangles everyone, indeed.

A recurring theme in scouting write-ups of Yakemchuk's game is his fearlessness in attacking defenders one-on-one. There's nothing the big man likes to do more than pull the puck out wide his gigantic reach and then toe-drag it back through the defender's legs.

It should be no surprise that a player of Yakemchuk's stature can absolutely rip it. Like Parekh, CHL goalies didn't have much of a chance against Yakemchuk when he was left to shoot, and his ability to get the puck on net through a crowd is a major asset.

There's a reason, though, that Yakemchuk isn't vying for one of the very top spots in draft rankings (unless you're Corey Pronman). Yakemchuk is often described as a poor defender with limited hockey sense. The folks over at Dobber put the non-Pronman scout consensus succinctly:

Most glaring are Yakemchuk’s issues on defence, stemming from a combination of mentality and awareness. Yakemchuk is physical and overly aggressive, leading to hit-chasing, getting burned and failed entry denials. Yakemchuk also frequently loses his checks, misses coverage, and forgets his responsibilities. The verdict? Yakemchuk has top-pair offensive upside though it will require time, patience and a long leash. 

That last bit from about Yakemchuk requiring a lot of patience from whichever team drafts him also comes up a lot. Yakemchuk has a lot of very intriguing tools but his game is in need of a lot of refinement.


Yakemchuk's offensive explosion since first coming into the WHL transported him from afterthought to very much at the forefront of the 2024 Entry Draft. Though most folks have him falling in the 10-15 range, Bob McKenzie has Yakemchuk at 12 and Elite Prospects' consolidated rankings have him at 13, it would be a shocker to see him fall below the first half of the first round. A player with this toolkit just simply doesn't last that long. If the Sens were to take him at 7, it would be considered something of a surprise – but his skillset is enticing enough that there's an outside chance of Steve Staios calling Yakemchuk's name.

One final thing: it is worth noting here that Yakemchuk is a 2005 birthday, which has him on the older side of this draft. When making side-by-side comparisons against Dickinson and Parekh, the other two CHL defenders we've profiled as potential #7 picks, it's important to remember he just played his age 18 season while they completed their age 17 season.

Additional Material:

In-depth scouting report with video from McKeen Hockey

Write-up at All About the Jersey

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