WILMINGTON, Mass. — Jakub Zboril became the first of the Boston Bruins’ three first-round picks from the 2015 NHL Draft to sign an entry-level contract Wednesday, and the 18-year-old defenseman is excited to begin his journey toward the NHL.
“It’s really awesome,” a smiling Zboril said Thursday after the third development camp practice of the week at Ristuccia Arena. “Really happy day for me, and I’m really thankful to the Bruins, but it’s just one of another steps that have to be done.”
Zboril isn’t likely to make the Bruins’ roster out of training camp and preseason, but the team would have the option of giving him the first nine games of the regular season before having to make a final decision, like they did with 2014 first-round pick David Pastrnak last season.
Right now, the likely scenario is another year in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Saint John Sea Dogs, where Zboril tallied 33 points (13 goals, 20 assists) in 44 games. He’s not allowed to play in the AHL during the 2015-16 campaign because of the NHL/CHL transfer agreement.
“Not for sure, anything right now, maybe some miracle will happen, who knows,” Zboril said. “But I think I will go to Saint John for another season.”
Zboril has a high hockey IQ, a good first pass to start the transition game, is able to provide offense and plays with a physical edge. He’s the type of mobile, well-rounded defenseman that the Bruins need now and for the long-term.
“On the ice, he makes it look pretty easy. Real smooth skater, moves the puck really well, defends well because he’s such a good skater,” Bruins development coach Jay Pandolfo said.
“He’s a young kid, he still has a lot to learn, but he’s come in here as our first overall pick. It’s opened his eyes a little bit, and we’ve talked to him, and he knows what he needs to do to get better, and he’s going to do that. He’s a good kid.”
The Bruins can afford to be patient with Zboril as he continues to develop an impressive skill set. Boston has nine defensemen expected to push for ice time when training camp starts in September, and young blueliners such as Zach Trotman, Colin Miller and Joe Morrow are all ready for an opportunity at full-time NHL roles.
Zboril might be a year or two away from making an impact in the NHL, but there’s a lot to like in his game in this early stage of his development.
Thumbnail photo via Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports Images