The Bruins failed to make the post-season in 2014-15, and struggled down the stretch to both defend and attack opponents. It is no secret that the Bruins have one of the messier salary cap situations in the league, and a rapidly aging defense anchored by the likes of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg. Our obligatory check of hockey's future (www.hockeysfuture.com) and their team prospect rankings reveals that the Bruins are ranked 23rd in the league for their farm system and are notably lacking in many areas, with defense being of special concern. Hard to say what new GM Don Sweeney will do with this pick, but here at LBC we are going with the top ranked remaining defenseman on the board:
With the 14th pick in the Litter Box Cats mock draft, the Boston Bruins select:
Jakub Zboril - D Saint John Sea Dogs
Zboril hails from the Czech Republic, and weighs in at 6'1" and 184 lbs. While not a large and imposing defenseman, he does use physicality as part of his game. But that is not what the young defender is known for. This is a power play quarterback, puck-moving d-man with great ice vision. This season, Zboril scored 13 goals and 20 assists and finished with a +2 rating in just 44 regular season games. In the playoffs, he posted 3 points in St. John's five-game playoff loss to Baie-Comeau. NHL Central Scouting ranked Zboril 12th overall among North American prospects in its final rankings.
To the scouts:
Curtis Joe, at eliteprospects.com:
Jakub Zboril is a smart, fleet-footed two-way defenseman that plays to his strengths in all three areas of the ice. While he doesn't aim to impress, he does all of the little things right and plays with an edge. The neutral zone is his launching pad: he is able to take off into the offensive end, or backcheck quickly into his own end. Very sound positionally. Smooth skater with lots of energy to burn. Not afraid to lay the body, or take a hit to make the play; can and will stand up for teammates. Possesses good hands and awareness on the ice, as well as a hard shot that is quite accurate. All-in-all, a complete defenseman that is relied upon to offset any oncoming attacks, as well as create chances in the opposing end.
A smart, physical two-way defender, Jakub Zboril is the most talented and NHL-ready defenseman of all the eligible QMJHL prospects. He was sidelined for the second half of the season and missed the World Junior Championship, but his stat line is an impressive one; in 44 games, the Czech Republic native scored 13 goals and added 20 assists. It’s no coincidence that the Sea Dogs’ level of play dropped significantly in the second half of the season without Zboril.
The 6’1, 187-pound defender is strong on his skates and works hard in the corners to remove opposition players from the puck. He’s not the most punishing hitter, but he will step up to make a big hit when the opportunity presents itself. He’s also a player that can play on both the power play, where he utilizes his great shot, and on the penalty kill.
A good two-way blue liner…plays a complete game and relies on his impressive footwork to maintain defensive coverage as well as put himself into the offensive play…has a good top speed and all-round mobility…has a dangerous point shot that is both accurate and hard…has a physical element to his game and will step up to make a hit…clears the crease and separates opponents form the puck with his body in the defensive zone…has an active stick…good upside as an all-round NHL defender.
Bill Placzek at draftsite.com:
Emerging defenseman with good size/skill ratio. Displays excellent vision as a first year player in the "Q" who has superb four direction skating ability. Very elusive when carrying, and really good at closing the gaps when defending. Has shown he can ride attackers to the wall and check them hard when away from it. Poised and quick to make that accurate pass in transition. Is smart and patient on the PP where he makes use of his hard low shot, or move the biscuit to the option. Still learning and far form the polished player on the backline. He still has mishandles and lapses in judgement due to bad positioning and sloppiness I will defer to his newness to the higher competition. Needs a stronger commitment and full game commitment, but there's much to like.
While Boston has many needs to start putting their team, and organization, back together, defense is the most logical starting point on that road, and Zboril is the top prospect remaining at this draft position.
While waiting for Calgary and the #15 pick, have a look at young Mr. Zboril in action: