Jacob Zborel in 2022
Key stats: 10 GP, 0G, 3A, 3PTS
Other stats: 15:44 ATOI, 58.6 cf% (5v5), 58 oZS% (5v5), 62.6 cf/60 (5v5)
Reader Rating: 6.1
Author rating: 7
It wasn’t exactly an easy skate for Jakub Zboril.
He’s a man who, for many people, will forever be determined by the year of his draft (although he was chosen in line with many introductory ranks — you know what, don’t care).
His growth was relatively slow and steady, but was interrupted by injuries – and this year was no exception.
After playing what was undoubtedly the strongest NHL hockey of his career early last season, a bizarre collision in the December game in Nashville ruptured Zboril’s AFC Champions League.
The game is over, and a difficult break for the child.
While we should consider the effect of the “small sample size”, there are plenty of reasons to be positive about Zboril’s play next season.
When he had the opportunity to break into the squad early last season, he held his place until injury settled, beating the likes of Mike Riley and Conor Clifton to stay in the squad.
Zboril’s involvement in the crime was more evident, his skateboarding seemed more confident, and he seemed more willing to take the body or work along the boards.
His even-strength holding/average metrics were the best of his young career, with the CF/60 in particular above the mileage in the previous two years.
Yes, you would have preferred to pick the nearest ten to be a little further out in his development at this point, but the backers can be slow to develop; If Zboril can fully recover from his injury and pick up where he left off, Bruins’ patience may start to pay off.
However, it is fair to say that this is a big “if”. ACL reconstructions aren’t just a walk in the park, and while Zboril has had plenty of time to recover, even half a step missing can be a huge problem.
However, he should have plenty of chances to prove himself to Jim Montgomery, especially with fellow left-hander Matt Grzelcic at the start of the season and another left-handed Mike Riley likely in the center of the trading.
The Bruins clearly believe there are brighter days ahead for Zboril, as the team signed him to a two-year contract extension in the spring.
If Zboril can get back at 100% and continue on his upward trend, it will give the Bruins more choices at the back end, both in terms of who will play and might become expendable as a result.
At this point, it seems unlikely that Zboril will become the best defensive player you’d like to pick number 13 overall.
But if nothing else, the early part of last season showed that there is still plenty of upward movement in Zboril – so a little optimism may be warranted.