New Jersey Devils prospect, and 2015 1st round draft pick (6th overall), Pavel Zacha will sit out of evaluation camp for the Czech World Juniors team, according to The Record’s Tom Gulitti. That camp starts Saturday in Calgary.
The reason being that Zacha is still without a contract, though it has been reported by some sources as being close to being finished. An injury suffered at camp would impede his agent’s ability to get a contract solidified with the Devils.
Agent Patrik Stefan told Gulitti that Zacha “doesn’t have a contract, so we don’t want to risk him getting an injury… I spoke to the coach and he understands.”
If Zacha doesn’t wind up in the NHL next season — and he’d need to sign before 5pm on August 15 to be eligible to play next season — he’s likely to be on the Czech team when the World Juniors tournament starts in Helsinki on December 26. He played on the 2014 and 2015 Czech team at the World Juniors.
Gulitti notes that if the Devils do sign him, he’ll have to pay Liberec in the Czech Extraliga, where he’s signed for the coming season, a $100,000 transfer fee, because the team missed a July 15 deadline to have him signed.
The sticking point in contract negotiations is Schedule A performance bonuses, something former GM Lou Lamoriello was famously against, keeping Adam Larsson’s entry-level contract without any performance bonuses. (Toronto’s 1st round pick, Mitch Marner, missed this Lamoriello policy because his agent started negotiations prior to the team signing Lamoriello.)
Now that Shero has taken over the policy isn’t likely to stay the same, but the nature of those bonuses has yet to be agreed upon. Gulitti notes that “a source indicated that Stefan is seeking the maximum bonuses.”
Last season, playing for the Sarnia Sting in the OHL, Zacha scored 16 goals and 18 assists over 37 games.
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Dustin Nelson writes about news and the Minnesota Wild for The Hockey Writers.