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Road to the NHL Draft: Pavel Zacha

Position: Center

Junior team: Sarnia (OHL)

Born: Brno, Czech Republic.

Measurables: 6-foot-3, 210 pounds.

2014-15 stats: 37 games, 16 goals, 18 assists, 34 points.

Central Scouting rank: No. 8 (North America)

Lowdown: Longtime NHLer Petr Nedved coached Zacha in their Czech Republic homeland. Nedved convinced the physically intimidating winger that his best path to the NHL was to play in North America. Zacha’s big problem was he didn’t know English. Actors Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels solved that.

Zacha picked up his new language by repeatedly watching the comedy classic “Dumb and Dumber.” He has size and natural talent that can’t be taught, the kind that might make him the first Czech drafted in the top 10 since Jakub Voracek in 2007. He averaged nearly a point per game while growing accustomed to a new culture and style of game.

He can skate well, especially for a big man. His shot is quick, hard and accurate, and he shows the willingness to head to the net. His decision-making and temper need work. He was suspended twice, once for slew-footing and once for boarding. He needs to maintain the physical edge but be smarter with it.

They said it: “He’s got high-end skill and is an excellent competitor. He plays an excellent two-way game. He’s physical and solid on his skates and can separate guys from the puck.” – Chris Edwards, NHL Central Scouting.

– John Vogl

The Buffalo News is profiling 30 prospects in 30 days leading up to the NHL Draft, which will be held June 26-27.

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