Zachary Wheeler is living up to all the hype in his first foray at the Major U-18 AAA level.
The Moncton U-18 AAA Flyers caused quite a stir in late August when word got out that they would be having an underage “exceptional status” player on their roster for the 2021-2022 season.
Some were all for it, while others questioned the process and decision. “Exceptional status” stories aren’t that come place in this area or level for that matter and that’s why so many people questioned the Flyers organization.
Wheeler has had an incredibly solid season thus far. The young highly skilled winger thinks the game extremely well. He’s a strong skater and possesses a great deceptive release. He has solid puck skills in traffic and isn’t shy to go to the dirty areas of the ice to create offence for himself and his line mates.
One of the biggest question marks heading into the season was how Wheeler would handle the physicality and intensity of playing a level up.
He has answered all of those questions and has definitely lived up to and some would say surpassed all of the high expectations when it comes to physical side of the game.
In 24 games Wheeler has lite the lamp 9 times and added 12 assists.
Obviously, some skeptics will continue to question the decision or process that allows “exceptional status” players playing a level up. It’s an extremely controversial topic confronting the hockey world.
It was way too early to judge Wheeler, his family and the Flyers decision a week or two into the season. Things had to progress organically for Wheeler and he definitely found his footing early on within the NB/PEI Major U-18 circuit.
To each their own, when it comes to “exceptional status.” When it comes to the process and player you have to look at the players foundational skill set and how they have adapted, fit in or excelled at that particular level. As for the process, no one will ever be satisfied. The naysayers are always going to exist when it comes to the “exceptional status.”
Wheeler has been very good all season long and probably the best compliment someone can pay an underage “exceptional status” player is that they haven’t looked out of place at all, if anything he has flourished.
QMJHL scouts have undoubtedly taken notice of Wheeler’s prowess. It’s far too early to project Wheeler’s draft ranking for next season. There’s no question his skill, speed and the way he processes the game are certainly noteworthy.
Obviously, like any young player Wheeler will have to get stronger and more explosive to excel at the next level and beyond.
The best is yet to come for Zachary Wheeler. The “exceptional status” underage season with the Flyers is just one chapter in his path in the game.
Wheeler continues to face all the critics, challenges and high expectations like a true pro.
The young scoring winger has lived up to and continues to surpass expectations which speaks volumes about his character and dedication to the game he loves.
The sky is the limit when it comes to Zachary Wheeler.