It certainly was not easy, but Jakub Zboril has made it to the National Hockey League.
Not only was a tumultuous path put in front of him—some of it by his own doing—and having had to put in a plethora of extra work, the young defenseman is now contributing as a top-six blue liner for the Black and Gold.
The departures of Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug played role in creating the opportunity for Zboril to crack the main roster, but that is all it did. It created an opportunity. Nothing else.
If you are given the chance to do anything in life, you still have to prove you are worthy of said chance. Well, the patience and training paid off for the 23-year-old Brno, Czech Republic native.
Zboril was drafted 13th overall by the Boston Bruins in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. He was considered to be a highly-touted prospect before that year’s draft, but was quickly overshadowed by the other two first-round selections the B’s made on that night; Jake DeBrusk, 14th overall and Zach Senyshyn, 15th overall.
The Bruins had a logjam on the back end at the time, and it would have been a long shot for Zboril to make the roster in his rookie year. With DeBrusk and Senyshyn, Boston needed some wingers immediately. Although DeBrusk had more success in the years since being drafted, both he and Senyshyn had seen more NHL action than Zboril before this season.
After playing 182 games for the Providence Bruins and spending some time overseas to work on his overall game, the time was right for Zboril to prove his worth to the Bruins.
Zboril has skated in eight games so far during the 2020-21 season, registering one assist and skating over 18 minutes per game on most nights. It has not been perfect, but skating with a healthy and rejuvenated Kevan Miller on defense has made Zboril effective in all areas of the ice.
Speaking of Miller, he is looking like a completely different player out there since returning from a serious knee injury. Experiencing setback after setback over the course of the last two seasons, many expected the 33-year-old rugged defenseman to retire.
That has not been the case, not even close.
Miller has also played in every game so far this season. Although the points will never be there for player like Miller, his physical presence on this Bruins team is unmatched. He has also shown his ability to take speedy rushes up ice with the puck, an aspect of his game that was rarely on display throughout his career.
Together, Zboril and Miller have worked well as a defensive pair. Whether it is the youth/veteran combination or just the willingness to prove something for different reasons, both players have earned their roster spots. The Bruins have found their third pairing.