2015 NHL Draft Profile #9: Pavel Zacha

Spread the love

Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players.  Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2015 NHL Draft.  Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports!  Last Word On Sports is your new headquarters for everything “Draft”! For a Complete Listing of all our 2015 Draft Articles Click here.

The first overall pick in the CHL Import Draft, the Sting convinced the Czech star Pavel Zacha to join the team in Sarnia this season. Zacha has been a star at the international level playing in the Under 18s two years in a row, as well in the Ivan Hlinka and the last two World Junior Hockey Championships.  Along the way he has picked up a silver medal at the Under 18s and medals at the Ivan Hlinka tournament. Injury issues and a pair of suspensions for questionable hits have kept him out of the Sting lineup at times this season, but when Zacha has been able to play, he has shown off his talents with 16 goals and 34 points in 37 games in his first season playing on North American ice.  Zacha put up 2 goals and 1 assist for the Sting in 5 games in their opening round playoff loss.  With his April birthdate and the Sting eliminated from the playoffs, Zacha is likely to join the Czech Republic team at this year’s Under 18 tournament.

Pavel Zacha

Center — shoots Left
Born Apr 6 1997 — Brno, Czech Rep.
Height 6.03 — Weight 210 [191 cm/95 kg]

Pavel Zacha has the size and skills to be a power forward one day at the NHL level, but also possesses elite skill to be a sniper, or a top notch playmaker. In the offensive end, he really can do it all.  He has the power to get through checks and drive the net, and the soft hands necessary to finish in close.  Zacha’s wrist shot is elite. He shows great power and a hair trigger release.  He also has a very hard and accurate one timer.  While Zacha is a shoot first type of player, he does show the vision and passing skills to be an very good playmaker as well.  He gets in quickly on the forecheck and absolutely punishes defenders with hits in the corners and behind the net.  He has the size and stickhandling to protect the puck in the cycle game and maintain possession, but he seems to lack the instincts to do it effectively right now.  It should be something he can learn though good coaching though, as the tools are there.  As he learns to extend plays, his production will improve.

Pavel Zacha is a good skater with a powerful stride.  He has outstanding acceleration and the ability to change speeds to fool defenders.  His top end speed is also very good.  Zacha has great agility and edgework, and can combine this with his stickhandling to get past defenders.  His balance and power are also good and he wins board battles and fights through checks.

Zacha’s defensive game is a work in progress.  As a centre, he still needs plenty of work in the face-off circle.  He also needs to back check more effectively, as he struggles in knowing where to support the defence down low.  Its not really due to lack of effort in the defensive zone, but he continues to need time to learn how to play the game defensively in the small rink.

Zacha has the potential to be a top line centre in the NHL, but definitely needs more seasoning and time to get there.  As far as style of game, it is reminiscent of Eric Staal, with perhaps more physicality offensively, and not as good defensively.  This is a style comparison though, and not a talent one.

Here are some videos of Pavel Zacha in action.

Come back tomorrow to check out our #10 prospect in the draft.