Prospect of Interest: The 411 on Jakub Zboril

The Hockey Central at Noon crew debates whether or not the Maple Leafs should enter the NHL draft with a 4-man brain trust and no true GM in place.

There are several intriguing defencemen who could potentially join Boston College standout Noah Hanifin in the top 10 players selected at 2015 NHL Entry Draft in June. Jakub Zboril of the Saint John Sea Dogs is one of those players.

Zboril finished his first season in the QMJHL with 13 goals 33 points in 44 games with the Sea Dogs this past season. A knee injury forced him to miss some time, but he has the makings of a reliable defender with some offensive upside.

Here’s what you need to know about Jakub Zboril.

Age on June 26: 18
Position: Defence
Shoots: Left
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 185 pounds
From: Brno, Czech Republic
NHL Central Scouting Rank (North America): 12th

Jeff Marek’s Take: A d-man with a good stick, who skates well and who moves pucks. Tough to get a read on, had injuries and a suspension at U18. NHL Comparable: Dan Hamhuis

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‘The whole package’

Zboril earned QMJHL All-Rookie Team honours following his first turn in North America with the Sea Dogs. Although he didn’t pile up gaudy offensive totals, his 33 points placed him third among rookie defencemen in scoring.

Sportsnet’s Damien Cox called Zboril ‘the whole package’ in October, thanks to the Czech defender’s ability on both sides of the puck.

An MCL injury kept Zboril out of the lineup for a spell, but he’s still ascended to near the top of the rankings among defencemen.

A project worth investing in…

It’s rare to find an Aaron Ekblad type who’s ready to make the jump from junior to top-pairing defenceman on an NHL club. Zboril might be a couple of years from NHL ready, but he’s worth the wait for prospective general managers according to Sea Dogs director of player development and analytics Paul Boutilier.

“He plays a really consistent game in all three zones. He has a real mean streak for a European defenceman, so those are real positives,” said Boutilier in a recent interview.

“Great skills, he has pro skills. He is definitely a type of player that can be successful in the NHL in two to-three years. A wonderful player, a great person, and all kinds of abilities. Certainly with the way that he has played over the second half, you can tell that he has settled in.”

A reliable, three-zone defender…

Zboril has shown an ability to succeed in all three zones of the ice. His lanky frame may leave something to be desired by many NHL general managers, but again, he’s by no means a finished product heading into the draft.

With sound ability with the puck on his stick and room to grow as a physical defender, Zboril could provide quite a boost in a year or two to a club willing to wait out his development.

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