A wildly busy day for the Bruins has also come with the team taking care of their last remaining restricted free agent, as the team and newly-acquired forward Pavel Zacha have come to terms on a one-year, $3.5 million deal.
With this contract, which will come with Zacha staring down unrestricted free agency in 2023, the Bruins and Zacha’s camp successfully avoided going to arbitration, as the sides were previously slated for an Aug. 11 hearing.
After scoring a career-high 17 goals in the pandemic-delayed 2021 campaign, Zacha built off that with a career-high 36 points in 70 games with the Devils last season. And Zacha, who called Boston his offseason home even prior to the trade, feels that there’s another level for his game to reach.
“I think there’s big room for improvement for me,” Zacha, who was acquired from the Devils in a one-for-one swap involving Erik Haula, said last month. “I think this is gonna be a great opportunity and a restart for me being on this team and having a lot of other players who can help me reach where I want to be as a player.
“The last couple of years, I’ve played better than before, but it also wasn’t even close to where I can be. I’m excited to have a restart in my career and be better than I was last year.”
This is about as close to a ‘prove it’ contract as Zacha could have gotten from his new team, too.
Rather than make any sort of long-term commitment to the 25-year-old, the Bruins are instead opting to take the 2022-23 as an exploratory year with Zacha, who can both wing and center. It sounds like this upcoming season could see Zacha play the wing almost exclusively, too, with Bergeron and Krejci officially back in the fold and Charlie Coyle still in the mix and viewed as a more effective center than winger.
The No. 6 overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, Zacha has 69 goals and 179 points in 386 career games.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. He has been covering the Bruins since 2010, and has been a member of the Boston chapter of the PHWA since 2013. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.