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2015 Draft Prospects: Jakub Zboril

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A Z-Man D-Man from the Czech Republic? Sign me up.

Dave Connell

With a plethora of puck-moving defensemen projected to in the 1st Round of the NHL Entry Draft, not many true two-way blue-liners are high on the radar. The Czech Republic's J-Z a.k.a. Jake Zboril a.k.a. Jakub Zboril is one of those D-men. He's not a massive point producer, and he won't create the rush out of his own zone. But as far as playing in all three zones, Zboril has some great attributes that make him a solid 1st round prospect.

Name Age Origin Height Weight Pos. League Avg. Rank
Jakub Zboril 18 CZE 6'2" 185 D QMJHL 18.2

Labeled often as a "two-way" defenseman, Zboril could more accurately be looked at as a defensive defenseman who seizes offensive opportunities. He's strong on his skates, takes the body when it's there, and uses his great balance to clear the front of the net. And when the chance is there, he'll join in on the rush. Compared by some to the Rangers' Keith Yandle, Zboril isn't as slick on his skates, but has a smoothness to his game that allows him to both fly into the offensive zone, and quickly retreat to the backcheck.

Jakub Zboril is a smart, fleet-footed two-way defenseman that plays to his strengths in all three areas of the ice. While he doesn't aim to impress, he does all of the little things right and plays with an edge… Not afraid to lay the body, or take a hit to make the play; can and will stand up for teammates. Possesses good hands and awareness on the ice, as well as a hard shot that is quite accurate. All-in-all, a complete defenseman that is relied upon to offset any oncoming attacks, as well as create chances in the opposing end. (Curtis Joe, EP 2015)

His solid footwork, sound positioning, and decent reach make him a tough kid to play against in his own zone. Jake is gritty along the walls with a strong stick and upper-body, and even more physical around the net when clearing out the crease. Zboril has the balance to deliver hits without much shifting in his skates, going from seemingly flat-footed to blanketing a potential scoring chance in very little time and effort. His mean streak is noticeable, and he's not afraid to throw down for his teammates or to create a spark. Many have noted his toughness being a standout trait among other European prospects, and that his style of play is made for North American hockey.

And while he's not flashy as perhaps a Kylington or Roy, JZ can and will take advantage in the offensive zone as well. Jake has a hard, accurate shot from the point, and also make smart quick breakout passes. He doesn't possess the speed to control the puck on a rush, but has the awareness and vision to start it out of the zone, and the acceleration and shot to finish it at the other end.  So far in his early career, he has been hindered by inconsistency and puck-watching. Zboril has good anticipation, but this also sometimes works against him, as he will wait for the play to develop rather than jumping in to stop it. Yet even with his lapses, Brendan Ross of Dobber Sports Network notes "he mixes his offensive tools and physicality too well to not be considered a first round talent."

Jakub is a very good skater with an ease that affords him the opportunity to be very effective defensively and offensively. Very smart and poised with the puck where he can make plays that create opportunity and alleviate pressure. He plays all situations in the game with a strong understanding of what is unfolding and finds ways to be a contributor in some form or fashion as required. (Craig Button, TSN)

Jake Zboril is almost unanimously seen as a 1st-Round prospect. Although his development may ultimately be slower than other potential picks at 14. Zboril has played only one year in Juniors, and will need to be seasoned in the AHL for a year or two before making the jump to the NHL. He is still growing, and needs to become better acclimated with the speed and style of North American hockey. But he eventually does adjust, Zboril could be a steal in the middle-to-lower draft.