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Devilsfan118

Pavel Zacha

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Figured I'd start a thread instead of posting this in the GDT:

Pavel Zacha frustrated not being in Devils' lineup

So, what're we thinking here? Way too early to give up on him or declare him a bust imo, but he's clearly struggling to put it together.  The fact that he's telling the media stuff like this isn't a good sign:

Quote

While Hynes has been clear in explaining to the media what the organization wants to see from Zacha, the 6-foot-3, 210-forward said he’s not sure what he needs to show to get back into the lineup.

“To be honest, I don’t know,” Zacha said. “I didn’t talk to anyone so I don’t know what is going on. I’m not playing so the only thing I can do again is practice hard. I’m not feeling great.”

Hypothetically, when does a change of scenery begin to make sense for both the player and organization?

 
Edited by Devilsfan118

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I mean, it's way too early to call Zacha a bust- he's 20 years old. But there certainly seems to be a disconnect between what Hynes wants and what Zacha has been doing. The fact he's saying things like 'I don't know' when he's asked what it will take for him to get back in the lineup tells me he thinks he's doing everything asked of him, when the coaches clearly don't see it that way.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

 

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It doesn't seem like Zacha can just go out there and play.  His on the puck skills are quite good, but he doesn't get himself with the puck to high-danger areas all that often.  There's a lot of deference to other players or trying to take the puck more to low-danger areas for passes.

He is only 20, but I would say he's working on 4 straight seasons where his performance just doesn't match his observed talent level.  I wonder if Hynes not telling him anything this time is deliberate - there's only so many times you can tell someone the same thing.

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I mean, that he would have any confusion at all as to why he's out of the lineup is pretty ridiculous. Whether he has been playing bad minutes or not, he has produced nothing this year and his skills are hardly on display on the ice.

He's being left on his own at this point, either he figures it out or he's not going to make it here. 

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I don't want to give up on this kid and it's definitely too early to call him a bust, but their current handling of Zacha has been my only issue with this management group so far (or really the coaching staff I guess). I just get the bad feeling this is gonna move towards a trade request from Pavel, I don't think he's been as bad as the stat line reads and I actually thought he was playing very well as of late. Doesn't seem like the line of communication is there anymore and the kid is clearly very frustrated, unless he gets back in soon and produces I don't see a way this is going to resolve nicely. Hope I'm wrong, because I want Pavel to work out here, I think the kid has a lot of talent and a rare skill set when he puts it together.

If we need to move him out, maybe Detroit could be a good partner to trade with. Looking to get younger and we could maybe pull away someone like Tatar or Nyquist to sure up our top 6 RW

Edited by CommonDreads
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That's weird cause Shero or Hynes said that they've had discussions with him and his agent to make it really clear what they are expecting from him and how he can win his spot in the lineup. So not sure why he's saying that he doesn't know.

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I feel bad for the guy, but there are expectations of him having been drafted where he was, and he's not even close to meeting those expectations. 

I'm definitely not ready to give up on him, and I feel bad because he can't improve his on-ice performance when he can't get on the ice. 

Unless he's not working hard at practice and that has worked against him. 

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What's scaring me is that the problem seems to be his drive. Which is something you can't really teach, you have it or you don't. When you're physically more mature and skilled than other guys your age it's easy to get to a certain level eventhough you don't have an insane drive. But in the long run you need that. 

Only guys with exceptional skills like Kovalev for example can make it that far without being driven too much.

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By benching him this often, you have given up on him... he'll be gone sooner than later..

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I actually really liked how Hynes was handling Zacha when he first scratched him a couple of times. Hynes seemed to be very transparent, and wanted to let Pavel know what he needed to be doing and that if he isn't getting it done, he is not going to play. But it has become excessive now, and I can't figure out why Hynes is doing this. A couple of scratches here and there are fine. A player will come back into the lineup fired up and ready to prove himself. We'll see that from Santini tonight. But in this situation, Hynes is going to get Zacha back in the lineup for a game, only to bench him in the middle of the second period. That doesn't give a player the opportunity to right his wrongs. It only crushes his confidence. It doesn't make sense because Zacha is not a liability on the ice, like some other players might be. To some degree, you've got to let him play so that he can figure out how to be better in actual game situations.

Others have said similar things, but what really frustrates me about this is that other players are sticking in the lineup, and are doing less, in my opinion. Hayes and Stafford have not helped the team much in what seems like a long time. I know Mojo has been out of the lineup for a while, but it's not like he has produced a ton when healthy. After tonight's game, Zajac may be without a point through 10 games, and he has not looked very good outside of trying to create offense, either. I know the latter two guys would never get scratched, and that's not what I'm suggesting. But it is not justified to me that Zacha is scratched more than he's playing, and he is the only forward on the team (other than Hayes, but still much more so) who is paying a real price for his underperformance. 

Regarding Triumph's point about taking the puck to high-danger areas, what's he supposed to do when the slightest mistake gets him benched, put on the 4th line, or scratched the next game? He's probably going to want to defer the responsibility to other players who aren't gonna be punished if it doesn't work out. Passing to someone else and letting them take it to the net may seem like a better option if he feels like his failed scoring attempts will get him benched or out of the lineup. I could understand how playing the safe game looks most appealing to Pavel right now.

This reminds me of the Josefson treatment during his first few years. I get that Josefson was not going to be a good NHL player, but it always seemed that he was judged on an unfair standard, and was punished harder and given much less of an opportunity to succeed than other players. Josefson ended up playing scared for a lot of his career as a Devil. We don't want Zacha going down that same road, so Hynes really needs to stick him in the lineup and let him find his game. Zacha's got too much skill to be wasting away.

I know it's junior highlights, much different from what you could expect at the NHL level. But this does not look like a player with no drive to me.

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2 minutes ago, nessus said:

This reminds me of the Josefson treatment during his first few years. I get that Josefson was not going to be a good NHL player, but it always seemed that he was judged on an unfair standard, and was punished harder and given much less of an opportunity to succeed than other players. Josefson ended up playing scared for a lot of his career as a Devil. We don't want Zacha going down that same road, so Hynes really needs to stick him in the lineup and let him find his game. Zacha's got too much skill to be wasting away.

This is exactly my fear, and I feel like I've seen it happen so often here over the years. Very rarely have we seen a coach here that allows kids to work through mistakes, and in turn it makes them timid. It's a mixed message when you tell a player you want to up the aggressiveness in his game, but then penalize him when he tries to do so by creating a higher risk scoring chance. That's why I hate Hynes' handling of Zacha so much right now, they're sending completely mixed messages to a kid who's only 20 years old.

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Elite Hockey Prospects/ 2015

Pavel Zacha is an offensively dynamic center with the size, speed, and skill to make a significant impact on the game. He can play physical, but is at his best when using his high-end offensive abilities, such as his shot, stickhandling, and footspeed, to generate numbers in the opposition's end of the ice. All-in-all, Zacha is a lethal weapon that can be depended upon to create, and finish, dangerous scoring chances whenever he is on the ice. (Curtis Joe, EP 2015)

Draft Analyst wrote:

A strong center with a variety ways to beat you, Zacha’s at his best when he’s unbridled in open ice and exploding up the ice as if he was shot out of a howitzer. He’s a devastating hitter who toes that line between acceptable and dirty. His physicality coupled with his speed are reasons why the seas in the offensive zone seem to part whenever he has the puck. Zacha possesses an excellent shot and an even better release, and his one-timer is devastatingly accurate. He is very good at exiting his own end and entering the other. While he shouldn’t be categorized as a selfish player, Zacha tends to hold onto the puck longer than he should. 

 

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17 minutes ago, CommonDreads said:

This is exactly my fear, and I feel like I've seen it happen so often here over the years. Very rarely have we seen a coach here that allows kids to work through mistakes, and in turn it makes them timid. It's a mixed message when you tell a player you want to up the aggressiveness in his game, but then penalize him when he tries to do so by creating a higher risk scoring chance. That's why I hate Hynes' handling of Zacha so much right now, they're sending completely mixed messages to a kid who's only 20 years old.

Hischier is working through his mistakes.  Bratt is working through his mistakes.  They've both made plenty and they've been given second and third chances.  Zacha's not playing the kind of game where it's like 'oh, okay, I accept this player and his warts, he'll make some mistakes but he's making stuff happen out there'.  He's not making a lot happen and he looks timid.  If he's playing wing, he needs to be forcing the opposing defenses into difficult choices, with or without the puck.  I just don't see a lot of that from him.  And he has had at least 3 concussions that we know about and who knows how that affects things.  

I fully grant that Zacha even in this reduced state is better than some of the other guys the Devils are putting out there, but Zacha should be much better than he's played this season.  The coach doesn't have many options when the player won't play the kind of game the coach wants him to.  

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21 minutes ago, CommonDreads said:

This is exactly my fear, and I feel like I've seen it happen so often here over the years. Very rarely have we seen a coach here that allows kids to work through mistakes, and in turn it makes them timid. It's a mixed message when you tell a player you want to up the aggressiveness in his game, but then penalize him when he tries to do so by creating a higher risk scoring chance. That's why I hate Hynes' handling of Zacha so much right now, they're sending completely mixed messages to a kid who's only 20 years old.

Exactly echoing my sentiments. 20 year old kid afraid for his career because he feels like he is playing on a knife edge. The slightest mistake or transgression ends up with his butt on the bench. Few can play or work under those conditions and be successful. 

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8 minutes ago, Triumph said:

Hischier is working through his mistakes.  Bratt is working through his mistakes.  They've both made plenty and they've been given second and third chances.  Zacha's not playing the kind of game where it's like 'oh, okay, I accept this player and his warts, he'll make some mistakes but he's making stuff happen out there'.  He's not making a lot happen and he looks timid.  If he's playing wing, he needs to be forcing the opposing defenses into difficult choices, with or without the puck.  I just don't see a lot of that from him.  And he has had at least 3 concussions that we know about and who knows how that affects things.  

I fully grant that Zacha even in this reduced state is better than some of the other guys the Devils are putting out there, but Zacha should be much better than he's played this season.  The coach doesn't have many options when the player won't play the kind of game the coach wants him to.  

I should have specified that Hischier and Bratt are two exceptions in my OP, because I was thinking that as I typed it out. Over the years though I feel like it's happened quite often, granted not many of them have the clout that Zacha should have. We saw recently with Blandisi, I feel like the coaching staff toned him down and it made him less effective. We saw it with DeBoer with Josefson, Loktionov, and Larsson, Larsson was able to work through it, JJ and Loktionov not so much. I feel like we were seeing the parts of Zacha's game that are desirable in the preseason, and since these healthy scratches he has gotten pulled further away from what can make Pavel an effective player. I think it's completely unfair of the coaching staff to demand these changes in his game, but then scratch him for 5 out of 7 and either bench him or drop him to the 4th line in the couple games he's played. How is the kid able to show improvement or understanding when he's only been given say 20 minutes to show it out of the past 420 minutes the team has played? He's not being given a fair shake right now and I understand his frustration.

Edited by CommonDreads
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12 minutes ago, CommonDreads said:

I should have specified that Hischier and Bratt are two exceptions in my OP, because I was thinking that as I typed it out. Over the years though I feel like it's happened quite often, granted not many of them have the clout that Zacha should have. We saw recently with Blandisi, I feel like the coaching staff toned him down and it made him less effective. We saw it with DeBoer with Josefson, Loktionov, and Larsson, Larsson was able to work through it, JJ and Loktionov not so much. I feel like we were seeing the parts of Zacha's game that are desirable in the preseason, and since these healthy scratches he has gotten pulled further away from what can make Pavel an effective player. I think it's completely unfair of the coaching staff to demand these changes in his game, but then scratch him for 5 out of 7 and either bench him or drop him to the 4th line in the couple games he's played. How is the kid able to show improvement or understanding when he's only been given say 20 minutes to show it out of the past 420 minutes the team has played? He's not being given a fair shake right now and I understand his frustration.

He's supposed to be frustrated.  The way for him to come out of that frustration is to play hard on every shift and make an impact.  

With Larsson they wanted him to make certain changes to his game and he finally did that and he was in from then on.  I don't like these changes to his game very much and they've stayed with him in Edmonton, but that was what they wanted and they got it.  And I don't agree with every coaching decision like this - Loktionov's benching was beyond bizarre.  But with Zacha, the results aren't there like they should be.  This guy should be better.  Something's got to click eventually.

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52 minutes ago, nessus said:

Regarding Triumph's point about taking the puck to high-danger areas, what's he supposed to do when the slightest mistake gets him benched, put on the 4th line, or scratched the next game? He's probably going to want to defer the responsibility to other players who aren't gonna be punished if it doesn't work out. Passing to someone else and letting them take it to the net may seem like a better option if he feels like his failed scoring attempts will get him benched or out of the lineup. I could understand how playing the safe game looks most appealing to Pavel right now.

The thing is that he's never really taken the puck to high danger areas with any frequency. 

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To answer your question, now is certainly not the time for a change of scenery. You don't sell low on players, especially players you used the 6th overall draft choice on just 3 years ago. 

I'm disappointed in Zacha, but I'm even more disappointed that we still have to see guys like Hayes and Stafford playing in his place. You can't convince me either of them provide any value. And if this is about sending a message, fine. But, coincidence or not, the Devils are 1-4 in the games Zacha has been scratched. Not entirely convinced that Hynes' "message" isn't directly hurting the team (and the player).

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1 hour ago, nessus said:

This reminds me of the Josefson treatment during his first few years.

The mere fact that comparisons to Josefson can be made is frightening to me. 

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Lately, we haven't been scoring. He can't hurt. I'd like to see him play now. But who comes out?  My choice Zajac, but that would never happen.  

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I wonder if Buffalo would be interested in having him as part of a package for Evander Kane. 

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He's theoretically a power forward. Dammit, play like one. i watched him in Avs game. Looked disinterested. Play every shift like Nico does, and maybe he'll stay. I don't feel sorry for him in the slightest. Hynes wants whomever to make a difference. When was the last time he finished a check? A punishing check! Not sure he has it in him. 

When & if he gets back in the lineup, he needs 3 consistent good games showing hunger. Or a conditioning stint in Bing. I'd rather see Lappin or Q here while #37 watches. Maybe that'll  motivate. Lake PDB says, we don't need anymore passengers round here.

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11 hours ago, SterioDesign said:

That's weird cause Shero or Hynes said that they've had discussions with him and his agent to make it really clear what they are expecting from him and how he can win his spot in the lineup. So not sure why he's saying that he doesn't know.

His agent is Patrik Stefan.    Not exactly a great NHL pedigree.   

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It's definitely way too early to give up on him.  At this point, I envision him kind of filling the Zubrus or Brylin type of role player, and that's completely fine.  He still has the potential to be a good offensive player, but if he is a solid 2-way player capable of putting up 40 points, that's fine too.  Konecny on the Flyers has very similar numbers as Zacha, and Flyers fans were so convinced Konecny would be so much better than Zacha.  For the record, the guy I wanted the most with our pick that year was Rantanen, so it's not like I'm a Zacha fanboy.

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