Player: Jakub Zboril
Last Season: Providence Bruins
Stats: 58GP, 3G, 16A, 19PTS
Acquired: 2015 Draft - 1st round, 13th overall
Much like the #9 prospect on this list, Jakub Zboril is going to be overshadowed by expectations for most of his NHL career.
While not quite as bad as the grief given to the Bruins for selecting Zach Senyshyn, Zboril’s name frequently brings out the “WHAT ABOUT BARZAL?????” people among us.
Unlike Senyshyn, Zboril was selected right around where he should have been, but it doesn’t matter. It’s been six years since he was drafted, and it’s about time the Bruins cash in on the high pick.
By most accounts, Zboril’s development has been slow, but steady. In a recent conference call, Jay Leach said that Zboril was probably the P-Bruins best defenseman at the end of the year.
For the most part, Bruins fans’ frustration with Zboril comes back to the fact that they’re mad about the 2015 Draft and the fact that a couple of other defensemen have made the jump ahead of Zboril since he joined the organization.
However, as the old saying goes, it takes defensemen a while to develop into NHL-caliber players, and while Zboril is 23, it’s not like he’s over the hill.
He had a strong training camp last season and was among the last cuts. While he didn’t crack the NHL roster last season, he had a solid showing in Providence and appeared to grow his game in the areas coaches wanted to see.
Now...what’s next? The Bruins are in a spot where they’re not really hurting for defensemen, though that could obviously change quickly if (and it’s a big if) Zdeno Chara elects to hang ‘em up or Torey Krug signs elsewhere.
Of course, this isn’t to say that Zboril would be a replacement for either of them, but that two guys leaving would open up two roster spots.
Zboril is going to be battling guys like Connor Clifton, Jeremy Lauzon, Urho Vaakanainen, Kevan Miller, and maybe Jack Ahcan for a roster spot.
There’s promise in Zboril’s game, and signs that he’s ready to take the next step. If he’s given that opportunity, he needs to make sure he takes it.
Projection for next year: Splits time between Boston and Providence