Boston Bruins

  • The Bruins’ most recent trade addition will begin his Boston career by talking money.

    Forward Pavel Zacha was listed as one of 24 players to elect salary arbitration ahead of the 2022-23 season, as announced by the NHLPA. The Bruins acquired Zacha from the New Jersey Devils last Wednesday, in exchange for forward Erik Haula.

    Zacha is a restricted free agent, so he was subject to a qualifying offer from the Bruins, which totaled $3 million. He instead turned that down and filed for arbitration, ostensibly because he and his agent believe he’s worth more than that number.

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  • The two sides don’t have to go to arbitration yet. They can still reach an agreement before then. But if it does get to that point, they will turn to an independent arbiter, who will determine a dollar amount for a one-year deal for the player.

    If the number determined is greater than $4,538,958, per league rules, the Bruins have the right to walk away from the deal, which would make Zacha an unrestricted free agent. But this is an exceedingly rare occurrence. The most likely result is the Bruins and Zacha agree on a number between $3M and $4.5M.

  • Zacha, 25, was originally the sixth overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft (yes, that one). He has yet to quite live up to that stock, topping out at 36 points last season. But he did score 17 goals in just 50 games in a shortened 2020-21 season. His size (6-foot-3, 210 pounds) and shot are positive assets, and he also has experience on special teams.

    In his last two seasons with the Devils, Zacha showed significant improvement at the faceoff dot, improving his potential as a full-time center. As a left-shot forward, Zacha will be more useful to the Bruins down the middle than on the wing, but could fill in on the left side while Brad Marchand misses extended time to start the 2022-23 season.

    NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - JANUARY 28: Pavel Zacha #37 of the New Jersey Devils skates against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Prudential Center on January 28, 2021 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    NEWARK, NEW JERSEY – JANUARY 28: Pavel Zacha #37 of the New Jersey Devils skates against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Prudential Center on January 28, 2021 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

  • If Zacha can return to his 2021 scoring pace, which would be 28 goals and 58 points over 82 games, he would be worth more than $3 million. The Bruins have about $4.7 million in cap space, so they should easily fit his deal under the cap, whatever it is.

    Zacha has made Boston his “summer home” of sorts in recent years. He’s familiar with the area after having worked with former teammates and Mass. natives, Brian Boyle and the late Jimmy Hayes.

    So, the likelihood is that he and the Bruins have mutual interest in coming to an amicable agreement.

  • Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. You can also email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.