CALGARY, AB -- The 2014-2015 WHL season was Micheal Zipp’s most productive and it didn’t go unnoticed.
Coupled with his rock-solid defensive play, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound blueliner posted a career-high nine goals and 17 assists in 69 games with the Hitmen this season and landed himself on the NHL Central Scouting's final rankings for the 2015 NHL Draft.
Even with the strong possibility of being selected by a NHL club at the draft in Sunrise, FLA, Zipp isn’t getting too ahead of himself.
“It’s pretty cool, but at the end of the day it’s just a list,” said Zipp, who sits 189th among North American skaters in the NHL CSS rankings. “Teams are still looking, but it’s good to be recognized and get some exposure. Whatever happens, happens and I’m just going to keep moving forward.”
Since the Hitmen acquired Zipp in a trade with the Everett Silvertips last season, he’s been a staple of the team’s defensive corps.
The Edmonton, AB product helped strengthen a Hitmen blueline fostered by the veteran presence of NHL prospects Keegan Kanzig (Calgary Flames), Ben Thomas (Tampa Bay Lightning) and Travis Sanheim (Philadelphia Flyers).
Zipp would like to think he helped lead the way as the Hitmen 20th WHL season saw a few fresh faces join the back-end.
“I saw a lot of potential in the group from day one,” Zipp said following his first full campaign with the Hitmen. “We had a lot of young guys, a lot of rookies this year, but we also had a lot of good leadership a lot of good character too. It was a good combination and it paid off in the long run as we went far in the playoffs.”
Zipp agreed that he really hit his stride this season, particularly following the holiday break.
It was around that time that the Hitmen brought in hulking defenceman Kanzig in a trade with the Victoria Royals, a move that the Edmonton-born said bolstered the blueline tremendously.
Zipp added that Kanzig was instrumental in the Hitmen run all the way to the Eastern Conference Championship series against the Wheat Kings.
“Kanzig was a huge impact,” Zipp said. “He’s a scary guy, probably one of the most feared guys in the league, there’s no doubt about that. He lets you play a meaner, tougher role and guys respect you a little more just because he’s on the ice, so you feed off that and learn from him.”
Zipp is hoping to become the 50th Hitmen in the franchise’s history to be plucked at the event.
At last year’s draft in Philadelphia, the Hitmen had a total of five players selected in Thomas, Sanheim, Jake Virtanen (Vancouver Canucks), Chase Lang (Minnesota Wild), and Radel Fazleev (Philadelphia Flyers).
“Radel’s my roommate so we’ve talked about it a bit,” Zipp said of the upcoming draft. “I’ll talk to those guys and sort of pick their brains over the summer and see how they went through it. They’ve been through it all.”
“Either or, if I get drafted or not, it’s a dream come true when a team recognizes you that way,” he added of a likely NHL training camp invite this off-season. “I’m going to just keep moving forward and hopefully work my way up to a NHL contract one day.”