Jakub Zboril, right or wrong, always will be remembered for his draft slot: 13th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft.
With that came high expectations, and thus a microscope on him.
Zboril’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, knows exactly what the Boston Bruins defenseman is going through.
“I lived it,” Cassidy, a first-round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks in 1983 whose playing career was knocked off track by knee injuries, told reporters Tuesday. “You can’t help but hear it, especially nowadays with all the social media and chatter, you can’t block everything out. These young guys, it affects them mentally.”
Zboril indicated he’s gotten off Twitter and Instagram, only keeping Facebook so that he can keep in touch with friends and family. That undoubtedly has been good for him, and Cassidy believes he is not impacted by the outside chatter anymore.
It takes defensemen, especially ones from Europe, time to bake in the AHL. By the time the 2019-20 season had halted, Zboril was regarded as Providence’s top blueliner. That allowed for him to become a mainstay in the NHL lineup last season until his campaign was railroaded by injuries.
He began this season as the spare defenseman for Boston, but lately has worked himself into the last two games in place of Mike Reilly. The 24-year-old has looked good, and has perhaps even earned himself a look in a bigger role.
Maybe this is the beginning of him becoming a bona fide, everyday NHL defenseman.