Today I'll be chatting about a player who I've become very fond of since his midterm ranking. Czech blue-liner Jakub Zboril is one of the best defensive prospects available outside of Hanifin, Provorov, and Werenski. Zboril put up 13 goals and 22 assists through 44 games in his rookie year with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL. His production was heavily influenced by a knee injury that sidelined him for two months. Even with that, Zboril managed to be third most-scoring defenseman rookie in the league.
Zboril was named to the 2014-2015 QMJHL All-Rookie Team, and was a finalist for the Michael Bossy Trophy, which is awarded to the league's best professional prospect.
Name: Jakub Zboril
Born: February 21st, 1997 -- Brno, Czech Republic
Weight: 185 lbs.
The thing I love most about Jakub Zboril is he's a reliable utility defenseman. He plays tough minutes in all situations, and is a mainstay QB on the power play. For an 18-year-old rookie coming into a different style of hockey than that of what he played in Czech Republic, it's extremely impressive that he can be so efficient in all situations without the help of being sheltered.
Additionally, Zboril plays with a bit of snarl in his game. You know, that 'grit factor' that every talks about. This helps him with battles along the boards. While it's great that he isn't a soft player by any means, one looming concern I have is that he tends to be a bit undisciplined with his physical play at times. That, of course, can we shook out of his game with development.
Zboril is also exceptionally gifted with seeing plays in his own zone. You can often see Zboril neutralizing threats in the high slot. Zboril's vision is something that you can't really teach to young players, he reads plays, and activates offensively at the right times.
Curtis Joe from EliteProspects.com:
Jakub Zboril is a smart, fleet-footed two-way defenseman that plays to his strengths in all three areas of the ice. While he doesn't aim to impress, he does all of the little things right and plays with an edge. The neutral zone is his launching pad: he is able to take off into the offensive end, or backcheck quickly into his own end. Very sound positionally. Smooth skater with lots of energy to burn. Not afraid to lay the body, or take a hit to make the play; can and will stand up for teammates. Possesses good hands and awareness on the ice, as well as a hard shot that is quite accurate. All-in-all, a complete defenseman that is relied upon to offset any oncoming attacks, as well as create chances in the opposing end.
Former Saint Johns head coach, Ross Yates:
"He has all the skills, he is a big kid, he has a chip on his shoulders when he plays. So he has a lot of key attributes that scouts will like," Yates said in an interview with John Moore. "He is a good skater, he sees the ice well, and he has a heck of a shot. He has a lot of things going his way, he just has to put them all together now and improve.
NHL Comparable: Keith Yandle
ISS RANKING: #22
NHL CSS RANKING: North American #12
McKeen's Hockey RANKING: #18
Zboril's draft stock has raised over the past few months. If you ask me, he's a lock to go in the top 20.
Remember the last time the Detroit Red Wings took a Czech defenseman named Jakub at 19th overall? Those were good times, right? Just kidding, let's ignore the irony and focus on what's at hand. As I said before, I expect Zboril to go in the top 20. Likely between picks 15 and 20 to be more specific. If he's available at 19th overall, then Detroit should not hesitate to grab him. He's a gifted two-way defenseman who's vision is next-to-none. With development and growth, Jakub Zboril could likely end up a true "minute-munching" NHL defenseman that you can use in all situations and rely on.