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Along with Pavel Zacha, Jakub Zboril is part of one of the best Czech Republic draft classes in years, as the country has really turned around their hockey program following a number of dark years. Zboril was part of the silver medal winning squads at the 2014 IIHF U18 World Championship last spring, and the 2015 Ivan Hlinka team this past summer. Drafted 5th overall in the CHL Import Draft, Zboril has lived up to the hype and put up 13 goals 33 points in 44 games for the Saint John Sea Dogs. He added a goal and two assists in five playoff games. Zboril is a player who seemed to be better every time I saw him, working on improving his game as the season went along. He looks like the total package on the blueline this season. He will be representing the Czech Republic at the Under 18 World Championships once again.
Defense — shoots Left
Born Feb 21 1997 — Czech Republic
Height 6.01 — Weight 184 [185 cm/83 kg]
Jakub Zboril is an excellent powerplay quarterback, with strong poise with the puck and good viion and passing skill. He also has a rocket of a slap shot, as well as an excellent wrist shot and good release. Zboril is patient and waits for a proper shooting lane to get his shot through to the net. He is able to use his agility, and edge work to walk the line and open up passing and shooting lanes to the net. In addition, Zboril has good instincts for pinching in at the blue line, or for joining the rush. He has the puck handling skills to skate the puck out of danger in his own end, and can make a smart first pass to start the transition game.
Jakub Zboril has good skating skill and his excellent pivots, edge work, and agility allow him to cover a ton of ice. He has good balance and is hard to knock off the puck. That balance and power is also very useful in clearing the front of the Sea Dogs net, or in battling for loose pucks in the corners and along the boards. Zboril’s skating stride is a little bit choppy and his acceleration could improve by working to make it smoother, however it has not had a huge effect on his top end speed which is good in both directions.
Opposing forwards must keep their head up when making a rush down Zboril’s end of the ice. If they have their heads down, he is more than willing to throw a big hit. He does have to time these hits better though, as he can have a tendency to get himself out of position to make such a hit. Zboril is also not afraid to be physical in the defensive end of the ice, battling hard in front of the net and in the corners. He is not afraid to block shots. He could use some work on his positioning and reading of the play as this has caused some inconsistency in his defensive game this year, but again is something that he has improved over the course of the season.
If he is able to reach his ceiling, Jakub Zboril has the potential to be a top pair defender, and power play quarterback in the NHL, though he will need some time to develop. More likely he ends up as a second pairing guy who does everything well and plays power play and penalty killing time. His game and style is similar to James Wisniewski though this is not a talent comparison, but merely a stylistic one.
Below are some videos of Jakub Zboril in action.
Check back tomorrow for the #16 prospect on my list.