The Devils have selected center Pavel Zacha (Sarnia, OHL) with the sixth overall selection of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
Zacha recorded 34 points (16g-18a) and 56 PIM in 37 appearances and was named to the OHL’s First All-Rookie Team during his first season in North America. He ranked second among Sarnia’s skaters with six power play goals and was fourth (tie) in overall goal scoring despite missing 31 games.
Zacha registered a career-high 1g-2a-3pts and was +5 in a 9-2 victory over Windsor on October 11. The 6-3, 210-lb. center posted 7g-9a-16pts in the season’s first 16 contests, including a six-game scoring streak from October 10-24 (5g-4a-9pts). Zacha added 2g-1a-3pts in five post-season matches.
• In his first season in North America, Zacha registered nearly a point-per-game in 2014-15, finishing with 34 points (16g-18a) in 37 games for the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League.
• Zacha played 38 games for Liberec in the Czech Republic’s top League in 2013-14, where he was mentored by former NHL player Petr Nedved. Nedved, who was selected second overall by the Vancouver Canucks in 1990 and skated in 982 career NHL games, helped prepare Zacha for his transition to North America.
He's got high-end skill and is an excellent competitor; he plays an excellent two-way game. - Chris Edwards, NHL Central Scouting
• Internationally, Zacha represented the Czech Republic on the Under-16 team as a 14-year old in 2011, and skated for both the Under-17 and Under-18 squads the following year as a 15-year old. He has represented his country twice at the Under-18 World Junior Championship, earning a silver medal in 2014 with 3g-2a-5pts in seven games. He also participated in the World Junior Championship on two occasions (2014, 2015).
• Zacha has picked up the English language quickly by watching and reciting subtitled versions of his favorite movies, including Dumb and Dumber.
NHL Central Scouting’s Chris Edwards:
“He's got high-end skill and is an excellent competitor; he plays an excellent two-way game. He's physical and solid on his skates and can separate guys from the puck."
• Including Zacha’s selection, New Jersey has selected 34 players in the first round all-time, including 21 forwards, 10 defensemen (last time, Adam Larsson, 4th/2011) and three goaltenders (last time, Ari Ahonen, 27th/1999)
• The club has drafted a forward with five of its last six first-round selections: John Quenneville (2014), Stefan Matteau (2012), Jacob Josefson (2009) and Mattias Tedenby (2008). Defenseman Adam Larsson (2011) was the exception (First-round picks in 2010 and 2013 were traded).
• New Jersey has selected a forward with 17 of its 25 picks since 2011 and with 14 of its 19 choices since 2012. Both Reid Boucher (4th round, 2011) and Stefan Matteau (1st round, 2012) have already made their NHL debut with the Devils.
• This marks the second time in team history that the Devils’ have chosen sixth overall (also, John MacLean, 1983).
• Zacha becomes the second Czech player to be drafted by the Devils in the first round, joining Petr Sykora (18th/1994). He also become the first Czech player the Devils have selected overall since Petr Vrana (42nd/2004).
• Zacha joins Joey Tenute (8th round/2003), Lucas Nehrling (4th round/2004) and Wes Mason (2nd round/1996) as New Jersey’s fourth player ever drafted from Sarnia.