The Red Wings used their final pick of the 2021 NHL Draft on Windsor Spitfires center Pasquale Zito, who didn’t even play this past season as the Ontario Hockey League chose not to play due to the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, he was drafted 166th overall, but Zito told the Windsor Star’s Jim Parker that he’s got a bit of a beef with landing in the sixth round:
“Proud to be part of the Detroit Red Wings and they get all my love, but I’ve got a big chip on my shoulder,” Zito said after the draft. “I’m going in next year to show a lot of people I should have been a lot higher and I’m pretty sure I’m going to be the biggest steal of the 2021 draft.”
Zito was one of three members of the Spitfires taken in the draft. Forward Wyatt Johnston went to the Dallas Stars in the first round with the 23rd pick overall, which had been acquired in a trade with Detroit. Russian defenceman Daniil Sobolev, who has yet to suit up for the Spitfires after being taken in the 2020 CHL Import Draft, went to the Montreal Canadiens in the fifth round with the 142nd pick overall.
Zito points to a 2020-21 OHL season wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic. While nearly every other player outside the OHL had stats to build their draft resume, many players like Zito only had their reputation as a 16-year-old rookie in 2019-20 to lean on.
“It was a lot of emotions for sure,” said the 6-foot, 175-pound Zito, who was Windsor’s second-round pick in 2019. “I’m still upset I didn’t get a year under my belt to show scouts what I’m made out of, but again I’m thankful to be part of the Detroit Red Wings’ organization.”