The Boston Bruins have made their first trade of the 2022 NHL offseason.
The Bruins signed Haula in free agency last summer, and he had a good season for Boston with 44 points in 78 games as the No. 2 center. The Bruins have essentially sold high on Haula, who is entering the final year of his contract with a $2.375 million salary cap hit.
Here's what Bruins fans need to know about Zacha, including his stats, contract and where he fits into Boston's lineup.
Position: Center/Left wing
2021-22 Stats: 15 G, 21 A in 70 GP
Zacha posted a career-high 36 points last season for the Devils. However, he was a bit more productive the previous year with 35 points (17 goals, 18 assists) in just 50 games.
A change of scenery could benefit Zacha, who has failed to live up to expectations after the Devils selected him with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
Zacha is currently a restricted free agent. His three-year, $6.75 million contract ($2.25 million cap hit) with the Devils expired following the 2021-22 campaign. A raise to about $3 million per season in his next deal would seem reasonable for Zacha. But there have been no reports, as of this writing, indicating the Bruins are close to an extension with him.
Here are some highlights that showcase Zacha's talent and potential.
Where will Zacha play?
Zacha's versatility gives new Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery plenty of options when configuring his lines. The 25-year-old forward's two-way skill set and impressive size (6-foot-3, 210 pounds) should help him make a smooth transition to Boston's defense-minded structure.
When the roster is fully healthy, Zacha makes a lot of sense at third-line left wing next to Charlie Coyle. However, he might not start the season there given the Bruins' injuries. Brad Marchand could be out until December after having offseason surgery on both of his hips. Zacha could slot in at first-line left wing while Marchand finishes his rehab. If Taylor Hall moves up to the first line in Marchand's absence, the B's could put Zacha with David Krejci (if he returns) and David Pastrnak, creating an all-Czech line.
If Krejci doesn't return, Zacha could be the Bruins' No. 2 center -- a role Haula filled during the second half of last season. Zacha won 50.1 percent of his faceoffs last season and his natural position is center.