New Jersey Devils’ prospect Pavel Zacha will skip the Czech Republic’s world junior evaluation camp, which began on Saturday.
Zacha, the Devils’ 2015 first-round pick (sixth overall), is still without a contract.
“He doesn’t have a contract, so we don’t want to risk him getting an injury,” agent Patrik Stefan told the Bergen Record’s Tom Gulitti. “I spoke to the coach and he understands.”
The 18-year-old is a lock to make the Czech world junior team, if he’s made available. Zacha has represented the Czech Republic at the previous two Under-20 tournaments. He had a goal and an assist in five games at this year’s tournament.
The bigger concern for the Devils is getting the 6-foot-3, 210-pound center signed to an entry-level contract.
Zacha needs to be under contract with the Devils by 5 p.m. on Aug. 15 in order to be eligible to spend the 2015-16 season in the NHL because he is still under contract with Liberec in the Czech Extraliga for one more season.
The Devils already missed a July 15 deadline to sign Zacha, which means the team will have to pay Liberec a $100,000 transfer fee – if they sign him prior to the Aug. 15 deadline.
“Now that everything has settled down a little bit, we’ll reconnect with Patrik Stefan and give it a go to sign him,” Devils GM Ray Shero said. “Hopefully, that’s going to be the case. As I told (Zacha), that’s our goal and it has been from the outset. I’ve said this before: there’s no red flags, we’re going to get to it. So, we’ll get this thing going next week and, hopefully, get him signed.”
Here’s more from Gulitti on the Devils’ negotiations with Zacha:
Most of the structure of Zacha’s entry-level contract is already in place. As stipulated in the collective bargaining agreement, Zacha’s contract will be for three seasons and he will no doubt receive the maximum entry-level NHL salary of $925,000 and AHL salary of $70,000 per season.
The hold-up is believed to be over the Schedule A individual performance bonuses, which can be given out for meeting statistical thresholds in categories such as ice time, goals, assists, points, etc. Former Devils GM Lou Lamoriello refused to include Schedule A bonuses because it went against his team philosophy. In fact, Devils defenseman Adam Larsson, who was selected fourth overall in 2010, remains the only top 10 pick that didn’t get any form of Schedule A bonus package in his entry-level contract. (Entry-level restrictions were first put in place in 1995.)
With Shero as GM now, Zacha will receive at least some A bonuses, but the sides have been unable to agree upon how much. The player cannot receive more than $850,000 total and no more than $212,500 per category. A source indicated Stefan is seeking the maximum bonuses.
Zacha scored 16 goals and 34 points in 37 games with the Ontario Hockey League’s Sarnia Sting last season.