20 Prospects in 20 Days: Pavel Zacha

(Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

(Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

With only 6 days left until the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft in Florida, we will be breaking down a prospect each day up until June 26th. Today we look at Czech forward Pavel Zacha.

(NHL.com)

Forward Pavel Zacha, Sarnia Sting (OHL), 18 years

Height: 6’3”, Weight: 200 pounds, Shoots: Left

RANKED:

NHL Central Scouting: 8th among North American Skaters

TSN: 6th among all players

2014-15 Stats: 37 games, 16 goals, 18 assists, 34 points, 56 penalty minutes

 

Although he missed almost half of the 2014-15 regular season to a shoulder injury, suspensions, and tournament play, Pavel Zacha has remained on many team’s radars and is among the most skilled players eligible for the draft not named McDavid or Eichel.

Zacha is extremely talented, and combined with his size and speed, possesses the type of skill package that could do some serious damage at the NHL level. Having drawn comparisons to Penguins center Evgeni Malkin and Stars winger Valeri Nichushkin, Zacha has wide wingspan and long skating stride, which allow him to effectively protect the puck as well as create time and space in the offensive zone. He is also an excellent skater and owns a heavy shot that he can unleash from anywhere on the ice.

There are some definite concerns with the Czech forward, however. He sometimes crosses the line with his physical play and is guilty of taking untimely and costly penalties. He also does not always play with the same level of intensity in the defensive zone as he does while on offense. That said, Zacha has improved his defensive play to the point where he can be an effective shutdown player, at least at the junior level.

Players with Zacha’s combination of size, skill, and speed come along rarely. So while he is not without some risk, expect the 18-year-old forward to be picked somewhere in the first half of the draft. He possesses a shoot-first mentality with the puck, and it is believed in some circles he will better suited to play wing at the NHL level. Either way, a team like New Jersey, who is slated to pick sixth overall and in need of young goal-scoring talent, would hard pressed to turn away a potential first-line talent like Zacha.

Despite all of his talents, Zacha is a candidate to drop in the 2015 Draft. It depends how much emphasis is placed on defensemen early on, as well as whether or not risk averse teams such as the Devils would be willing to take a chance, but Zacha could go as high as sixth or seventh and drop as far as the middle part of the first round.

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Previously Seen in “20 Prospects in 20 Days”:

Zach Werenski
Brock Boeser
Lawson Crouse
Noah Hanifin
Ivan Provorov
Kyle Connor
Timo Meier
Dylan Strome
Mitch Marner
Mathew Barzal
Thomas Chabot
Evgeny Svechnikov
Mikko Rantanen
Ilya Samsonov