By: Tim A Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson
Next on my list of prospect season reviews is defenseman Jakub Zboril. The young defenseman was taken in the first round, 13th overall in the 2015 NHL draft. At the time, the pick of Zboril drew much criticism because there were other players available that fans would have liked the Bruins to draft. As a result, Zboril has fallen under much scrutiny for how he has produced on the ice. Let’s dive in and take a look at his 2019-2020 season.
Offensively, Zboril didn’t start the season off too badly. In his first 13 games, he netted one goal while dishing out four assists for five total points (stats courtesy of the AHL). That is a .38 point per game total, which would translate to roughly 31 points over a full NHL season. That’s not bad for a defenseman. The rest of the season didn’t go as well. Overall in 58 games, Zboril netted three goals while dishing out 16 assists for 19 total points (stats courtesy of EliteProspects). That’s a .32 point per game total. Zboril, in each of his first three seasons with Providence, has recorded 19 points (stats courtesy of EliteProspects).
When Zboril was first drafted, he was more known for his offense than his defense. One of the major areas the Bruins wanted the young defenseman to work on was being consistent on defense. This season he worked hard on that. I’d say, for the most part, he took a step in the right direction defensively. Despite falling out of favor a little bit, and other players like Jeremy Lauzon and Urho Vaakanainen passing him on the depth chart, he proved that he deserves a shot in Boston. His offensive game may never be his calling card, but if he can keep up the consistent play in his own end, Zboril will turn into a good second or third-pairing defenseman.
Another part of Zboril’s game that took a huge step forward was his physicality. The young defenseman is average-sized for a defenseman, but he started playing bigger for Providence. Not only was he playing more physical, but he was doing it effectively. Adding more physicality to your game as a young player is not something to overlook. In many instances, this gives the young player a clearer path to the NHL. The fact that Zboril realized this, and took it upon himself to make that change to his game says a lot about his character.
The big question is, what happens next for Zboril? The young defenseman is a restricted free agent going into the 2020-2021 season. I’d expect the Bruins to give him a modest two-year extension. This will give Zboril a little more time to develop and carve himself out a role with the Bruins. The defense is an area of strength for Boston not only in the AHL but the NHL as well. When all is said and done, I think Zboril will end up being a solid second-pairing defenseman in the NHL. It may not be with Boston, but he will somewhere! I hope everyone is enjoying the NHL playoffs and staying safe. Feel free to send me any questions or comments on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!