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Every few years during Capitals’ training camp there’s a buzz in the air around a young prospect, and the potential of the prospect making it onto the opening night roster. The last buzzworthy camp prospect was Andre Burakovsky a couple of years ago. Andre would eventually backup the buzz and solidify a spot on the Capitals’ roster for the long-term. The latest “buzzworthy” prospect is Zach Sanford. So just who is this new guy?
Zachary Michael Sanford was born on November 9, 1994 (21) in Salem, Massachusetts. The 6′-4, 210 pound southpaw attended Pinkerton Academy (grades 9-12) in Derry, New Hampshire.
In 2012 Sanford made the jump from Pinkerton Academy to the Eastern Junior League’s Middlesex Islanders, a team in its first year of existence. In the fall of 2013 Sanford would move his game to the Waterloo Black Hawks.
— Calvin Petersen (@CalPetersen40) April 6, 2014
2013 NHL COMBINE
The Hockey News interviewed Sanford at the 2013 NHL combines. “He’s a lanky kid, but the upside is huge,” said one scout. “Size, hands, definitely a lot to like.” Listed at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, Sanford was one of the leanest players to test at the combine. With just 7.4 percent body fat, he tied for third in that category out of more than 100 prospects. But the questions from NHL teams in the interview portion of the event weren’t about his diet habits. Read article here:
Zach Sanford at ’13 NHL combines in Toronto, CA (Photo: Nick Turchiaro/Getty Images)
2013 NHL ENTRY DRAFT
Sanford was picked in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft in the 2nd round, 61st overall by the Capitals, with the Capitals choosing to trade three other draft picks (84th, 114th and 127th) for the 61st overall pick from the Winnipeg Jets.
Sanford played two seasons for Boston College and prior to this year’s development camp, was looking forward to returning for his junior year.
Sanford had a decent freshman year, playing in all 38 games. He scored 24 points, with seven goals and 17 assists.
Sanford, 21, registered 39 points (13 goals, 26 assists) in 41 games with Boston College (NCAA) in 2015-16. The 6’4”, 191-pound center led the team in assists, ranked third in points and fifth in goals. In addition, Sanford was second on the team in plus/minus (27) and tallied 44 penalty minutes during the 2015-16 season. An interview with Sanford’s home town paper can be found here:
If there was any significantly quantifiable jump in Sanford’s game, it occurred in his sophomore year at Boston College.
SIGNING WITH THE CAPITALS
It was clear fairly early this summer that the Capitals were extremely impressed with Sanford after this years development camp. Entering camp, and even during camp, Sanford told media he was looking forward to returning the Boston College this fall. Things changed quickly the day development camp ended. More on post camp activities here:
On July 11, 2016 Sanford and the Capitals announced that Sanford was signed to a three-year, entry-level contract.
I am excited to continue my career with the @Capitals organization. Special thanks to my family for helping me become the person I am today.
— zach sanford (@zachsanford21) July 12, 2016
Zach would also sign his first endorsement deal two weeks later.
Really excited to join the @stxhockey family!
— zach sanford (@zachsanford21) July 24, 2016
Sanford has plenty to offer. Following his NHL combine in 2013, Zach added 20 pounds and actually grew an additional inch. Now 6′-4″, 210 pounds, Sanford has the speed the Capitals have been looking for since the end of the Penguins playoff series. In addition, he couples his large frame and quickness on the ice with excellent stick handling skills. Sanford possesses excellent vision and play-making ability and has shown that his presence on the ice makes those around him better.
For Sanford, he’s always had the raw skills to become a top six forward, it was just a question of if and when the development would occur. Early indications are that Sanford began to set himself apart from other prospects his age at the 2015 Development Camp, and likely sealed the deal at this year’s development camp.
Sanford has spent most of his amateur career at the center position, where he has excelled. Unfortunately for Zach, the Caps have significant depth developing at that position, fortunately for Zach, he’s got the raw skills and frame to transition to a wing position and has done so quite nicely in camp this year.
Coach Trotz has stated he has been impressed with Sanford’s level of play this preseason, even commenting that he has made “Ward-like” puck awareness and play along the wall (referring to former Capital Joel Ward). In the 6th preseason game, Sanford displayed his puck awareness, and dangling skills to net a game-tying goal.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) October 8, 2016
John Walton interviewed Sanford for his Rinkside Update on 10/8/2016.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) October 8, 2016
By Jon Sorensen, Beckie Kulak Reilly