New Jersey Devils: Pavel Zacha Finally Finds The Right Balance

Pavel Zacha #37 of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Pavel Zacha #37 of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Pavel Zacha finally had the breakout season New Jersey Devils fans have been hoping for since he was taken sixth overall in the NHL Draft. Zacha was the team leader in points thanks to his play on the power play. Zacha had five goals and 11 points on the power play. That also led the team. He didn’t lead the team in 5v5 points. That’s where he can add to his game for next season.

He wasn’t too bad. He had nine even-strength goals, which was good for fourth on the team. He also added eight even-strength assists. Honestly, it was more a testament to how terrible the Devils were last season. Nobody really made a major move towards the top of the stat charts.

Zacha was the team leader in points, but there were 93 players who scored more than him. That’s at least three players on each team that had more points than Zacha. It could be worse. Nobody on the Detroit Red Wings even got to 30 points.

There has been talk about whether the Devils should keep him or try and trade him when his value is high. However, it’s more important that Zacha stays on the team and grows from this season. This season obviously gave him confidence. He shot 16.5% this season, so he was hitting the back of the net at a much higher clip. That doesn’t always continue from year to year. However, the difference here is the fact that Zacha is shooting at that same higher clip. For the first time in his career, he shot the puck an average of two times per game. If he continues on that trajectory, he could be able to build off this past season.

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Zacha was always a very good defensive forward. This season, he was asked to spend a little more time on the offensive side of the puck. He still took around 47% of his faceoffs in the offensive zone (it was 45% last season). The team still trusts him to keep pucks off the board. Even though the penalty kill was not very good overall, Zacha was only on the ice for 10 goals against. Travis Zajac was on the ice for 11 goals against and he got traded in the middle of the season (but to be fair Zajac did technically play more penalty kill minutes overall).

Zacha will always be a very controversial forward amongst the fanbase. He finally lived up to expectations this season. He stayed consistent throughout the season, and he never really fell off as he had in other seasons. There’s hope he can be even better next season since he’s only 24 years old. He’s about to get into his prime, so maybe we’re finally seeing the real Zacha. Either way, if he can add something to his 5v5 scoring, that will be crucial for the Devils moving forward.