Pavel Zacha THW Close-Up:
Team: Sarnia Sting (OHL)
Birthdate: April 6, 1997
Hometown: Brno, Czech Republic
Height: 6’3″ Weight: 210lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2015 first year eligible
THW Ranking: 14th
- NHL CS (North America): 8th
- Sportsnet: 8th
- ISS: 10th
- Craig Button (TSN): 24th
- Future Considerations: 15th
- The Hockey News: 9th
There are few players entering the draft that are as polarizing as Pavel Zacha. Opinion appears to be as varied on him as any player eligible.
On the surface, he is a big strong kid who can play centre or wing and possesses all of the natural ability one would want in a budding power forward. He can skate, handle the puck, create for himself or others and arguably has the most lethal shot in the draft.
He was the first overall pick in the CHL Import Draft to the Sting and to start the season was a projected top five draft pick. Since they he has struggled with injury, and missed a large portion of the season with a shoulder injury, as well as inconsistency.
He can appear dominant on many nights and can take over a shift, looking like a men among boys. He also however, can look reckless and out of position just as easily.
While his adjustment to the North American game has had more bumps in the road than anticipated, his skill set and tools are undeniable and won’t let him fall too far on draft day.
Zacha plays somewhat of a power game using his size to drive to the net and hold off defenders. He plays a physically aggressive style as evident in his two suspensions. Zacha is not afraid to go into the greasy areas and dig out pucks for himself, rather than rely on teammates to do the dirty work for him. A high energy player with an equally high compete level that could graduate to the NHL next season.
– Peter Harling, McKeens Hockey
…his shot, skating ability, and physical advantage over most opponents that allows him to hold on to the puck for long periods of time until he is able to make the best play possible, whether it’s a pass to an open teammate, or a dangerous shot on goal.
– Joseph Aleong, The Hockey Writers
Pavel Zacha is an offensively dynamic center with the size, speed, and skill to make a significant impact on the game. He can play physical, but is at his best when using his high-end offensive abilities, such as his shot, stickhandling, and footspeed, to generate numbers in the opposition’s end of the ice. All-in-all, Zacha is a lethal weapon that can be depended upon to create, and finish, dangerous scoring chances whenever he is on the ice
– Curtis Joe, Elite Prospects
Where He’ll End Up in June:
While his stock has fallen somewhat this season, it won’t fall too far and he should still go in the first half of the first round, likely somewhere in the 10-15 range.
Zacha has represented his native Czech Republic at every level and has suited up for them a total of nine different times.
Mostly recently played for the Czechs in the U18 Championships and the World Junior Championships this season.
- 2-3 years
- Risk: 3/5
- Reward: 5/5
- Top six power forward
- Quick release
- Physical play
Flaws/Aspects He Needs to Work On:
- Defensive play
- Controlling reckless play
- Offensive: 8/10
- Defensive: 6/10
Lists his favourite player and models his game after Alex Ovechkin, some comparison in terms of a combination of size and offensive skill as well the willingness to play physical and throw his body around. Zacha certainly does not project to have the numbers or impact that Ovechkin has had however.
Carl covers the Edmonton Oilers for THW as well as providing additional prospect coverage. Follow him on twitter @carlTHW, connect on Facebook or contact at firstname.lastname@example.org for questions, comments or if you’re interested in him writing for you.