In a weird quirk, I have had the privilege of writing Jakub Zboril’s season review post for three years in a row now.
Unfortunately, a theme has developed, and it’s not really a good one.
I termed 2021 a season of “not quite.”
2022 was deemed a step forward, but was derailed by a serious knee injury.
Now, we’ve reached 2023, which was frustrating (if you’re feeling generous) or a disappointment (if you’re a bit more critical).
First off, Zboril deserves credit for bouncing back relatively quickly from a torn ACL. That injury occurred in December of 2021, ending what had been a good start to Zboril’s season.
He was a full participant (on time) in training camp last summer and performed really well.
At times, he was deemed one of camp’s standouts, and it looked like his time as an NHL regular had come.
He started the season essentially as a regular, playing in seven of the team’s first eight games.
He was then in and out of the lineup a bit in early November, which was followed by a brief illness that sidelined him for a few games.
His season (in a foreshadowing of Bruins doom to come) kind of fell apart at the hands of the Florida Panthers, as Zboril’s showing in a late-November loss was immortalized in a column in The Athletic at the time.
In that game, a couple of turnovers/poor decisions led to a benching, which led to a healthy scratch in the next game.
After that Nov. 23 game, Zboril would play once in January (6:27 TOI) and once in February (7:27 TOI). That’s it.
He got back into the mix in late March and April, shaking off the rust as the B’s rotated players in advance of the playoffs.
However, he didn’t feature once the postseason rolled around.
One could probably convincingly argue that Zboril was the victim of a short leash, and that on teams with less depth (or teams that weren’t destroying all comers on a nightly basis) he may have been given a chance to work out the kinks and get back on track.
Instead, his season pretty much crumbled after that Florida game, as tentativeness and poor decision-making landed him in Jim Montgomery’s long-term doghouse.
The initial scratch was justified, and while he may have deserved more of a look than 13 minutes over two months, the B’s had enough guys playing well to keep him out.
So now...here we are. Signs of promise. Injury. Good start. Tumble.
Zboril heads into this year’s training camp with as good a shot as any season yet to be an NHL regular.
Healthy scratch rotation partners like Mike Reilly, Anton Stralman, and Connor Clifton are no longer here.
If you look at the defensemen currently on the Bruins’ roster, Zboril should be firmly in the mix — but there’s still little room for error, and time is running out.
Zboril is entering the final season of a two-year contract. He’ll be a UFA at season’s end.
At this time next summer, we’ll either be writing about a former Bruin or a guy who was able to put it together and start to reach his potential.
Which way will it go? Time will tell.