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Boston Bruins Zacha Already Living in Boston: ‘It’s Great’

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BRIGHTON, MA – If there was an NHL destination that Pavel Zacha was going to get traded to this offseason, the Boston Bruins were pretty clear the perfect spot.

The 2015 first round pick of the New Jersey Devils has slowly carved out an identity for himself in Jersey where he’s averaged 16 goals and 36 points over the last two seasons as a 6-foot-3, 210-pound pivot on a Devils hockey club that’s struggled offensively. But Zacha hasn’t to this point lived up to being the sixth overall pick in the first round of that stacked 2015 NHL Draft, and that’s part of the reason he was dealt to the Bruins straight-up for versatile forward Erik Haula.

The surprising part for Zacha is that he’s been spending his summer offseasons locally for the last few years after former Devils teammates Brian Boyle and Jimmy Hayes talked him into training with them in Foxboro. The 25-year-old Zacha even bought his own place in Boston last summer and said he’s been best friends with Boston Bruins defenseman Jakub Zboril since the two were four-year-old hockey players in the Czech Republic.

So if Zacha was going to get traded anywhere across the NHL map for the first time in his pro career, this is the place he’d have wanted to be when it was done.

“I was mentally ready for it to happen, but I didn’t know what to expect because it’s the first time it’s happened to me in my career,” said Zacha, who interestingly said that captain Patrice Bergeron was one of the first B’s players to reach out to him welcoming him to the Boston Bruins along with Jakub Zboril. “It’s great. I know a lot of the guys because I train here during the summers in Boston and stay here during the summer. Every time I’ve played against them it’s a tough team to play against, so it’s really exciting for me.

“I really like it [in Boston]. I like the people. It’s a big hockey town, so I have a chance to skate and train with a lot of good hockey players. It certainly made it a lot easier knowing that I got traded here. Not a big move since I’m already staying here.”

Zacha will be an interesting fit for this season and beyond once the RFA is signed to a new contract. He could play the wing for the upcoming year as Boston is hoping that both Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci return to the Black and Gold fold, and then he’d be the youthful, talented replacement in the top-6 for a Boston Bruins team that’s organizationally short on those plug-and-play center prospects at the NHL level right now.

“He’ll have a chance to hopefully play in a top-nine scenario with us and with [Brad Marchand] being out, a significant opportunity early on with power play and situational play that he can benefit from,” said Don Sweeney. “But we do believe there’s more [offensive] potential there, and that’s up to Pavel to take advantage of the opportunities he’s presented with.

“We just felt that Pavel Zacha was a player that we had targeted in the middle of the ice in a multi-positional-type player. Younger. I feel there’s growth and potential there moving forward. We hope to be able to find a deal with him being a part of the organization now and beyond.”

Who knows? Perhaps having a couple of Czech countrymen around that he’s known a long time, in Zacha and Zboril along with Krejci, obviously, will add to David Pastrnak’s eagerness to sign a big money, long term deal with the Boston Bruins as well.

It remains to be seen how it’s all going to work out on the ice, but getting a talented, in-his-prime center ready to potentially take the hand-off from Bergeron and Krejci sooner rather than later was on Boston’s offseason check list. That one has been checked off even if there is still quite a bit of work to do for Sweeney and Co. with so many Boston Bruins loose ends to tie up.

 

 

Joe Haggerty has covered the Boston Bruins and the NHL for 18 years with NBC Sports Boston, WEEI.com, the Boston Metro and the Woburn Daily Times, and currently serves as lead Bruins reporter and columnist for Boston Hockey Now. Haggs always strives to capture the spirt of the thing any way that he can.

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Clacker47

Meh! I feel like we traded a player for essentially the same player…doesn’t move the needle at all. Bruins got Sweeney-ed again.

Comrie

I think it was a good trade. The Bruins now have someone who can be a net front presence. He has good size which the Bruins need to contend. TB and Colorado had good size to take the pounding of Stanley Cup playoffs.

Alex Charron

They just trade the best of the FA from last year and still have the dead wood

Isaac

Really good trade for the B’s. Zacha is much younger and has a bigger upside than Haula. Playing for a winning organization like Boston (as opposed to the mediocrity in NJ) will bring the best out in this guy.

Rick W Murray

Borderline second liner the way Boston Sports writers are highlighting this story you’d think they signed Connor Mcdavid. Get busy Sweeney DO SOMETHING SUBSTANTIAL!!

Michael J Parahus

Agree with all these comments. We traded the best of the Free Agent signings from last year and are left with underperforming Nosek and especially Foligno. While Zacha has size, he doesn’t use it and he is not a “rugged” or “physical” type of player. Yes more upside, but heaven forbid he is thought of as a center replacement for 37 or even Krejci. He’s not that.

Wfarm

Just what the Bruins need, another big man who won’t get his nose dirty ala Forbort and Carlo. The bruins superstars get smashed game after game and there’s no one there to make the opponent pay for that. Grzlech, Marchand, Mcavoy all need surgeries because of that. You’d think a guy like Neely who played the game “right” would know this.

Jimmy Murphy

Forbort was the team leader in blocked shots and fourth in hits. Want a mulligan on that?

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