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2023 Player Ratings: Pavel Zacha found his groove in his first Bruins season

Exactly what the Bruins hoped for.

Boston Bruins v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

When the Bruins acquired Pavel Zacha from the New Jersey Devils in the summer of 2022, the word “potential” was thrown around a lot.

Zacha came to Boston known as a guy who had a lot of talent but hadn’t quite put it all together yet (at least not at the level you’d expect from a 6th-overall pick).

You can judge Zacha’s first season in Boston in part by the way the team treated his contract: after signing Zacha to a one-year deal post-acquisition, the team signed him to a four-year extension in January.

Must have liked what they saw, eh?

While Zacha spent the majority of his ice time as part of an excellent Czech trio with David Pastrnak and David Krejci, he also gave the Bruins some versatility by moving up and down the lineup as needed.

The results were great, probably better than the Bruins expected.

Zacha hit career highs in all major offensive categories: goals (four better than his previous best), assists (12 better), points (21 better), and even strength goals (six better).

He did all that with the second-highest shooting percentage of his career, raising some concerns about possible regression (though his 16% rate isn’t too far off his current career mark of 11.6%).

It might be a little harsh to call Zacha’s playoffs disappointing, as he did register six points in seven games; however, all six of those points were assists, and in a series as tight as that was, you can’t help but wonder how much a difference a single goal might have made.

(Revisionist history, I know.)

Overall, it’s hard to find much to complain about regarding Zacha’s season. The Bruins acquired him with the hopes that he’d beat what he did with the Devils, and he certainly did.

The big question looming over Zacha now is how he’ll handle an expanded role with the team this season.

The Bruins may have had an eye on a bigger future role for Zacha when they acquired him, but I’m not sure they expected to have Zacha and Charlie Coyle as their top-two centers this soon.

The B’s will need Zacha to take that bigger role and run with it if they’re to have any chance of success this season.

It’s a tough ask, but Zacha was able to give the Bruins what they needed (for the most part) in his first season.

Can he do it again?