Pavel Zacha Drawing High Praise From Bruins Teammates

'He's a heck of a talent'

by

September 13

BOSTON — Pavel Zacha hasn’t played a game for the Bruins yet, but he’s already making quite the impression on his teammates.

Boston traded Erik Haula to the New Jersey Devils for Zacha on the first day of NHL free agency this summer before signing him to a one-year deal. Zacha never quite reached his full potential in New Jersey, but maybe a change of scenery and likely playing on the top line alongside Patrice Bergeron (at least until Brad Marchand returns from hip surgery) will do him some good.

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney expressed confidence in Zacha and so have Patrice Bergeron and Charlie Coyle.

“He’s a great player, he’s a very smart player, something that I knew even before he came in,” Bergeron told reporters at Warrior Ice Arena on Monday, per the team. “He plays the game the right way, he’s always well positioned, he’s got a great shot and even from talking to him, he wants to become more of a shoot-first mentality maybe than what he’s had in the past. I think he’s a great player, excited to get to know him on and off the ice. Young guy that I think has got a lot of potential and can become a great player in this league.”

New head coach Jim Montgomery hinted that Zacha could play on the top line and someone like Bergeron certainly could elevate his game. Just look at how Jake DeBrusk changed his game when he was moved up to the first line last season.

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Once Marchand is cleared to return, Zacha figures to slot in on the third line with Coyle as his center. Coyle has had success as the Bruins’ third-line center and clearly is comfortable there even when there’s been a revolving door of wingers. Coyle knows firsthand what it’s like to be traded to a new team and try to fit in. He has no doubt that Zacha — who he’s known for a few years — will be able to do just that.

“We’ve worked out together down in Foxboro the last couple years, so I got to meet him there,” Coyle said after Tuesday’s captains’ practice. “I knew playing against him how skilled he was. He’s always been a good player. I feel like every time he played against us he scored, so it’s nice to have guys like that on your team and not working against you. I got to know him a little bit in the gym over the summers and you can tell he’s just a very, very nice guy. Very calm, a little quiet but easy to get along with. He’ll fit in fine wherever he goes.

“It’s nice that he’s here. He’s gonna fit in so well in this locker room. He’s a heck of a talent, too, and he works at it. You like to see that in players. You like those guys on your team.”

Coyle added that he wouldn’t be upset “one bit” if Zacha indeed moves down to the third line once the Bruins are healthy.

As for DeBrusk, he remembers one thing in particular about Zacha.

“I think he dipsey-doodled me last year and made a 360 pass to someone backdoor,” he said. “That was a lovely dash.”

The Boston Globe’s Matt Porter dug up the “dipsey-doodled” play DeBrusk referenced, which was from Feb. 19, 2021. It indeed was lovely.

It certainly will be an interesting start to the season between injuries, newcomers and the return of David Krejci after a year in Czech Republic. But it’s clear Coyle is ready to go and he’s confident his newest teammate is, too.

Thumbnail photo via Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports Images
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