Since being drafted sixth overall in 2015, Pavel Zacha has only played eight games in the American Hockey League. He has played in none since turning pro full-time in 2016-17. After struggling in 10 NHL games this season, the New Jersey Devils have decided to send him to the Binghamton Devils.
#NJDevils news: New Jersey has assigned forwards Kevin Rooney and Pavel Zacha to Binghamton (AHL).
The club has recalled forwards Kurtis Gabriel and Brett Seney from Binghamton.
— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) November 2, 2018
Pavel Zacha Heading To Binghamton Devils
It was a shocking move that the Devils announced on Friday afternoon. Zacha had played in 150 career NHL games prior to being sent down. In 10 games this season, Zacha had yet to register a point, however. He only has 10 shots on net as well. He saw time as a healthy scratch on multiple occasions the previous season, as the team tried to get more consistency out of him.
Zacha has posted 51 points during his first two seasons with the Devils. As the sixth pick in 2015, the Devils certainly expected more out of Zacha early in his career. Zacha was known as a player with offensive ability throughout his junior career. He had 44 goals and 54 assists in 88 OHL games.
The team also expected a player that had a promising two-way game and would be a defensively responsible player. His possession numbers have not expressed that, however. Zacha has a 46.9 Corsi for and a -1.3 relative Corsi in his 10 games this season. His overall numbers leave a lot to be desired as well. His career Corsi for sits at 48.2 while his relative Corsi is exactly 0.0.
With Zacha still on his entry-level contract, the Devils did not have to worry about him needing to pass through waivers in order to be sent to the AHL. It is too early to call Zacha a bust, but the numbers thus far are not promising. Especially when a few players taken after him include Ivan Provorov, Zach Werenski and Mikko Rantanen
The Devils hope that consistent time in the AHL with help Zacha further develop and allow him to find confidence in his offensive game. Along with this move, the team also sent down Kevin Rooney.
Brett Seney and Kurtis Gabriel Recalled
In Zacha and Rooney’s absence, the Devils have recalled forwards Brett Seney and Kurtis Gabriel. Seney is in his first pro season with the Devils organization after being drafted in 2015. He is likely to be inserted into the bottom six, in either Zacha or Rooney’s spot. Seney has one goal and nine assists in 10 AHL games.
As for Gabriel, he is more known for his physical presence. If he is to suit up while in the NHL, it will likely be to add a spark to the team. Gabriel has seen his time in the NHL before, though, having played in 16 games with the Minnesota Wild. He has two points in six AHL so far this season.
It is unknown how long these players will be in the NHL. As for Zacha’s time in the AHL, it will on depend on how quickly he is able gain traction and find the offensive game that the Devils expected out of him.
Main Photo by Kate Frese (@KateFresePhoto), licensed to Last Word on Hockey. The Photographer retains all rights to the photograph.