First Round Targets: Jakub Zboril

Saint John Sea Dog Jakub Zboril is the kind of player who looks like he might be falling right in the Leafs’ wheelhouse.

When looking at the current Leafs’ roster, it’s clear from this and upcoming drafts that they need forwards, defense, and according to one Justin Fisher, probably a goaltender.

While it’s typically easier to project scoring forwards than defencemen, it doesn’t make them any less vital to draft. And unless the Leafs take Noah Hanafin, 4th overall, they could see themselves looking at a defenseman once the 24th pick rolls around.

The Czech Republican Zboril played just one year in the QMJHL, making him have a bit of a smaller sample size to scout, though he did impress many in his brief tenure.

The Numbers

Zboril put up 13 goals and 20 assists in just 43 games for a respectable 0.76 points-per-game mark. Zboril’s played just one year in North American, growing up through the Czech junior ranks. According to CHLStats, Zboril ranked second in the entire QMJHL among defencemen in estimated points /60 minutes of ice time. Take that as you will, but he’s clearly got some sort of offensive upside. 

The Eye Test

ESPN’s Corey Pronman states, “he uses his frame well to win battles and box out forwards and still has room to fill out.” Clearly.

Pronman also noted that Zboril is a player who’s played at all three strength for the Sea Dogs, showing a versatility of sorts.

Future Considerations has one of the better descriptions of a player in this draft, stating, “He is a bit of a sleeping bear as he picks up the physical game and edge when someone pisses him off in front of the net or after the whistle,” while stating he has potential as a top-four defender one day. 

Zboril stands at 6’2″, 185 lbs, a rather respectable size for an incoming NHL player. Named to the QMJHL All-Rookie team this season (though it should be noted he’s got a year on many rookies in the league), According to EliteProspects, 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.” 

Does he fit in the Leafs radar?

Ranked 12th in North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, Zboril could be a diamond in the rough of sorts, but it also doesn’t seem like a must-have pick at 24. A physical defenseman who doesn’t have size concerns, Zboril looks like a potential fit to work with if still available.

(GFYs via John Moore)

  • STAN

    A recent evaluation placed four defencemen in a top class, much like McKenzie’s draft list today, with the 5th top defender around 20th. the four are hanifin, provorov, 3rd is zboril and 4th werenski. hanifin’s size, skating smarts are tops of top 10 D-men listed, zboril is 2nd in size skating and has the same defensive awareness and more edge. if he or white are still there at 16th, toronto trades phaneuf.

  • STAN

    A recent evaluation placed four defencemen in a top class, much like McKenzie’s draft list today, with the 5th top defender around 20th. the four are hanifin, provorov, 3rd is zboril and 4th werenski. hanifin’s size, skating smarts are tops of top 10 D-men listed, zboril is 2nd in size skating and has the same defensive awareness and more edge. if he or white are still there at 16th, toronto trades phaneuf.

  • Gary Empey

    After the some of the flashy forwards (but not all) go early, I expect there will be a sudden stampede to pick defencemen at some point in the first round.
    Depending when it starts, we may be part of the stampede.

    He would be a good pick for us… There may be some terrific forwards still available who were run over in the rush for pure defensive gold .

    • Brooksterman

      Very true. Every year there tends to be a rush for defenseman in the first round and also a rush for centres in the first round and I expect the Leafs will probably be a part of both. I expect the centre rush to happen early in the first round obviously. If Arizona takes Strome I wouldn’t be surprised if the Leafs went “Oh crap now we gotta get the next best centre available so we have our future number one” which means they’d take either Marner or Barzal depending if they view Marner as either a future centre or winger. I firmly believe Mark Hunter’s top goal this offseason is to get the future number 1 centre in the draft.