It’s been a terrible season for the Anaheim Ducks, who currently sit last in the West Division and 30th in the league overall. However, perhaps the most exciting part of the season has been watching star prospects Jamie Drysdale and Trevor Zegras make the jump to the NHL.
Zegras has had two stints with the AHL’s San Diego Gulls but could now be back with the Ducks for good. He already has 10 points in 21 games but on a more impressive note, he has two goals and eight points in his last 12 games. He's played at least 17 minutes in each of his last three games and played more than 20 minutes in Monday’s loss to St. Louis. Zegras already has the best corsi for percentage on the team and his expected goals for percentage is second on the team (minimum 20 games played), according to NaturalStatTrick.com. He has also already taken on a key role on Anaheim’s power play.
While I think there was a bit of an adjustment in his first few games in terms of having less time and space than he was maybe used to, his game has translated well to the NHL. Zegras is very dangerous with the puck in that when he has control, he has the tools to open up so many different options, whether it’s taking a shot, finding a teammate in a great spot or holding onto it until a better option presents itself.
He’s also found good chemistry with Max Comtois and Troy Terry. While I don’t necessarily think Terry will be a long-term top-six forward, I could see Zegras playing with Comtois in the years to come.
Drysdale, on the other hand, has already been a key part of Anaheim’s blue line. He too started the year with the AHL’s San Diego Gulls, registering an impressive four goals and 10 points in 14 games, before being called up. Drysdale already has seven points in 21 games with the Ducks and has played more than 21 minutes in nine different games and more than 22 minutes in four games.
Like Zegras, Drysdale is also playing key minutes on the team’s power play, but he’s also now spending more time on the penalty kill as well. He looks very comfortable at both ends of the ice, especially when he’s holding the puck. To see that from a defenseman in just his first year of NHL eligibility is pretty rare.
Despite Drysdale and Zegras being just 19 and 20 years old respectively, each has made an immediate impact with the Ducks since being called up. Both players are transitioning to the NHL as well as possibly expected and all signs point to us watching a long-term first-line center and top-pairing defender in the making.
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