By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Bruins have signed 2015 first-round pick Jakub Zboril to a two-year deal with a $725,000 cap hit, the team confirmed Wednesday.
The 23-year-old Zboril skated in 58 games with the P-Bruins this past season, and tallied three goals and a career-high 16 assists for 19 points, which ranked him second among all Providence defenders in scoring. Zboril’s plus-20 was also the third-best among all P-Bruins, and was the 13th-best in the entire AHL.
“The last 12 games or 15 games, [Zboril] became probably our best defenseman overall,” P-Bruins head coach Jay Leach said back in May. “His ability to move the puck cleanly [was there] and there’s really there’s not many that can do it at our level. He was paired with [Josiah] Didier for most of it and I think Dids’ competitive juices wore off a little bit on Z and kind of ignited him a bit. Before you knew it, he was a real force down low.”
The 6-foot, 200-pound Zboril, originally drafted with the No. 13 overall pick in 2015, has played three full professional seasons with Providence, with 11 goals and 57 points in 182 career AHL contests.
Zboril, who cracked the B’s Opening Night roster last year but didn’t suit up for action, has appeared in two career NHL games (both in 2018-19), and has recorded three hits and one shot on goal in 21:52 of action. He also may be part of the youth movement the Bruins go through on the left-side of their defense in 2020-21.
“We feel that we have some young players, not unlike a few years ago where Carlo came on to the scene,” Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said last week. “Did we absolutely know that Brandon was going to be able to go in and play the amount of minutes right out of the gate? Nope. But we felt comfortable that we were going to give him that opportunity, and felt we could insulate it. Charlie and Brandon now have been in this league and have had a tremendous amount of success. Can they carry a younger player? Is Griz ready for an elevated role? Some of that is to be determined.
“[Urho] Vaakanainen, Zboril, John Moore and the collection of the group is what it is at this stage, while I continue to explore external options and it might be by committee in some of those situations. And it think some of the younger players are excited.”
One thing worth mentioning, of course, is that Zboril essentially has to make the team out of training camp next season, as he will be waiver-eligible and will not be sent to Providence without the rest of the league having a chance to claim him for free. (That may be part of the reasoning behind the Bruins signing Zboril to a one-way contract this time around.)
With the NHL looking at a Jan. 2021 start for next season, Zboril has been on loan to his hometown Brno Kometa of the Czech League, and has skated in two games with the club to date.