By: Gayle Troiani | Follow me on Twitter @LadyBruinsFan
Just as fans were still relishing the news that Don Sweeney and the Boston Bruins had signed Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci to one-year deals, a third announcement made another splash – Sweeney was able to avoid an arbitration hearing and signed Pavel Zacha to a one-year contract.
The one-year deal will have a cap hit of $3.5 million. The 25-year-old Czech Republic native was acquired from the New Jersey Devils on July 13 for Erik Haula. Zacha will join fellow Czech players Krejci, David Pastrnak, and Tomas Nosek on the Bruins roster for the upcoming 2022-23 season.
With both Bergeron and Krejci returning, what does that mean for Zacha and his spot on the Boston roster? Simply put, there are plenty of opportunities for Zacha and new head coach Jim Montgomery to make something work. Zacha could find himself playing on the top line with Bergeron and Jake Debrusk until Brad Marchand returns from offseason surgery, or he can skate with Charlie Coyle and Craig Smith on a third line.
Zacha has played 148 games less than Haula but only trails him by 61 points in that span. In addition, Zacha notched 17 goals and 18 assists in the 2021-22 season to Haula’s nine goals and 12 assists. On paper, the deal looks like the Bruins edged the Devils in the trade, but on-ice chemistry will be the ultimate tipping point.
The other question that comes to mind is, what number will Zacha claim as his own? Bergeron obviously won’t be giving up 37, nor should he, and even if the captain retires following the 2022-23 campaign, 37 should be raised to the rafters and not worn by another player. Zacha will have to select a new number, but we’ll have to wait and see what he decides.