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Bruins sign defense prospect Jakub Zboril to two-year contract

Jakub Zboril (right) eventually could be a candidate to run the Bruins power play.
Jakub Zboril (right) eventually could be a candidate to run the Bruins power play.Winslow Townson/Associated Press

Torey Krug and Jakub Zboril are not comparable players.

Krug is an upper-echelon defenseman who just got capital-P Paid. Zboril has played two NHL games.

But with Krug’s exit creating a hole on the left side of the Bruins defense — not to mention a crater on the power play — the youngster could have his first sniff at a long-term NHL role.

Zboril, the Bruins’ top pick (13th overall) in the 2015 draft, signed a two-year, one-way contract with a $725,000 cap hit, the team announced Wednesday. It was one of three deals the team made public.

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Journeyman center Greg McKegg, late of the Rangers, signed a two-way, one-year, $700,000 deal to strengthen the fringe of the lineup. Goaltender Callum Booth, who has split time between the ECHL and AHL, signed for the same terms as McKegg.

The most interesting move involves Zboril, 23, who will compete for minutes on a Boston blue line that has yet to re-up captain Zdeno Chara and Matt Grzelcyk. Depending on what happens before, during, and after the arbitration hearing scheduled next Tuesday for Grzelcyk, Zboril would slot into the top of a left-side depth chart that could include Chara, Jeremy Lauzon, John Moore, and Urho Vaakanainen.

Jakub Zboril was the Bruins' top pick in 2015.
Jakub Zboril was the Bruins' top pick in 2015.Barry Chin

Zboril, who was an RFA with no arbitration rights, has spent three full seasons developing with AHL Providence, putting up 19 points in each (last year: 3-16—19). He is currently on loan to his hometown HC Kometa Brno of the Czech Extraliga, where he has played two games.

Barring a surprise move to bring in a Krug replacement, Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy will get the first shots to run the power play. Zboril could begin an apprenticeship next season.

Zboril, one of the three first-round picks the Bruins made in 2015 (Jake DeBrusk, 14; Zach Senyshyn, 15), was seen as a poised power-play quarterback during his draft year, with a strong all-around game.

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In May, Providence coach Jay Leach said Zboril, listed at 6 feet and 200 pounds, was one of his best players. He came on strong late last season.

“The last 12 games or 15 games, [he] became probably our best defenseman overall,” Leach said. “His ability to move the puck cleanly, really, there’s not many who can do it at our level.”

Zboril was paired with AHL veteran Josiah Didier, whose “competitive juices wore off on Z,” Leach said. “Before you knew it, he was a real force down low.”

Because five seasons have passed since Zboril signed his first contract, he will need to pass through waivers to return to the AHL.

McKegg, 28, drafted by the Maple Leafs in 2010 (third round, 62nd overall), broke in during the 2013-14 season and has since bounced to the Panthers, Lightning, Penguins, and Rangers. He has played 185 NHL games and 322 in the AHL.

What sort of impact could Greg McKegg have in Boston?
What sort of impact could Greg McKegg have in Boston?Paul Sancya/Associated Press

On a one-year deal with the Rangers last year, he tallied a 4-5—9 line and 17 penalty minutes, averaging 9:34 per game. He ranked fifth among forwards in hits (69) and faceoffs taken (211; he led the team with a 49.3 percent success rate).

The Bruins could use him to kill penalties, particularly if the season begins Jan. 1 and Brad Marchand (sports hernia surgery) is still four weeks away from returning. Like Marchand and unsigned UFA Joakim Nordstrom, McKegg carries a left stick.

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In three round-robin games for the Rangers against Carolina, McKegg was New York’s third-most used PK forward (2:33 per game). McKegg was a bit player on that unit during the regular season, seeing 57 seconds over a 53-game stretch.

Booth, 23, was a Carolina draft pick (fourth round, 93rd overall) in 2015. He spent the 2012-13 season at Salisbury (Conn.) School. He played in the QMJHL (Quebec) and has split the last three years between the AHL (15 games) and ECHL (60 games). He replaces Max Lagace, who departed as a free agent after one year, as organizational goaltending depth.


Matt Porter can be reached at matthew.porter@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter: @mattyports.