Kris Baker of SabresProspects.com has submitted his annual rankings of the top 30 draft-eligible prospects. Check back each day as we prepare for the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida on June 26-27.
#6 – PAVEL ZACHA
|(Photo Credit: Getty Images) |
Center/Left Wing, Sarnia (OHL)
6’3.25”, 209 lbs.
A playmaking power forward with a heavy shot, Zacha made his North American debut in 2014-15 as a member of the Sarnia Sting, notching 34 points (16+18) in 37 games.
A sturdy 6-foot-3, 209-pound force, Zacha has the strength and game-breaking bursts of speed to make an immediate NHL impact. He likes to play the body and create space for his linemates, but he’s at his best when finding a slight opening in the offensive zone.
He can score and create with equal aptitude. He especially looks good flying down the right side to set up the power play and get into position to pound one-timers at the net.
Zacha – who had already seen his reps limited due to a two-game suspension for slew-footing, a six-game sit-down for charging, and a month of service with the Czechs at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship – missed another month after suffering an upper-body injury in January. He’d return to the lineup to produce a point per game in the Sting’s final 11 contests.
Prior to joining the Sting, Zacha played one season for Bili Tygri Liberec in the top professional league in the Czech Republic. The experience not only provided an adjustment to the pace of the pro game, but also afforded him the chance to develop his defensive responsibilities against more skilled competitors.
That side of his game was put on display in the first round of the OHL playoffs, when he was instrumental in clamping down on Erie standout Connor McDavid in the Sting’s five-game series defeat.
Zacha ended the year on a high note, snatching five goals in as many games at the Under-18 World Championship in April to cement his status as bona fide top-10 draft selection.
For more on all the youngsters in the Sabres pipeline, check out Kris Baker’s website, SabresProspects.com. You can also follow him on Twitter (@SabresProspects) for in-game updates throughout the week on any Buffalo prospects that are in action.