The Anaheim Ducks have given their fans a lot to be excited about in this early portion of the season. At 10-4-3 by virtue of an active eight-game winning streak, they are a surprise atop the Pacific Division. In the process, there have been plenty of individual accomplishments. Ryan Getzlaf became the franchise points leader, and subsequently the first to score 1,000 points in a Ducks uniform. Troy Terry has gone nuclear with a 15-game point streak, the longest active in the NHL. Perhaps lost in all of the excitement is the team’s top center, Trevor Zegras. The future of the franchise hasn’t been the catalyst for the team’s early success like the Ducks had hoped. Over the last two games, however, Zegras has begun to show up in a big way.
A Slow Start on Paper for Zegras
Zegras entered Sunday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks with only two goals and three assists. He went the first 15 games of the season without a point on the power play, a concerning metric considering his deployment on the top power-play line as well as the Ducks having scored 14 power-play goals to that point.
The slow start to his production doesn’t quite tell the whole story. Sonny Milano has found a regular spot in the lineup due to his chemistry with Zegras. In a loss against the Winnipeg Jets earlier this season, Zegras found Milano from behind the net for his first goal of 2021-22. Later in the third period, Milano returned the favor when he was able to find Zegras from a very similar location to the previous goal. His 56.49 percent Corsi for (CF%) over the course of the first 13 games of the season means he was on the ice for more shot attempts than he gave up. His paltry 9.52 percent shooting percentage paired with his high volume of scoring chances meant the breakout game was coming.
Zegras’ Breakout Games
In the first period against the Canucks on Sunday, Zegras ripped a one-timer from the top of the left faceoff circle for his first power-play goal of the season. He only needed to wait until the next period for his second of the season, when he roofed a rebound halfway through their man-advantage. This was his first career two-goal game in the NHL, and the mic he was wearing that night revealed it could have been his first hat trick ever.
Zegras managed to get a third point off an assist to Milano, but failed to record his hat trick. His ‘hunger’ had to be satiated against the Washington Capitals. Zegras scored a go-ahead goal halfway through the third period, but the Capitals were able to force overtime after Tom Wilson scored with 2:32 remaining in regulation. With less than a minute remaining in overtime, Zegras settled a bouncing puck at the red line, cleanly entered the Capitals’ zone, and found his spot to wrist home the winning goal over the glove of goaltender Vitek Vanecek. Zegras capped the celebration by lofting his stick into the Honda Center crowd, similar to what his friend and United States National Development Team teammate Jack Hughes did earlier this season after his own overtime winner.
Zegras’ Push for the Calder
Zegras came into the season near the top of the list of Calder Memorial Trophy favorites, but clearly behind Montreal’s Cole Caufield. Since Caufield’s slow start has resulted in him being sent down to the American Hockey League, the race for the league’s rookie of the year is as open as it can be. Detroit’s Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider have made an early case as the two top-scoring rookies so far this season. Other rookies also had a strong start to the season, such as Colorado’s Bowen Byram and New Jersey’s Dawson Mercer.
Related: 2021-22 Calder Trophy Tracker
Zegras’ slow start may have put him behind other rookies, but this star is just beginning to shine. His crafty play-making with the puck and ability to find teammates have been evident all season but are just now turning into point production. Not only is it helping the Ducks win games, but Zegras’ recent play is making a statement, one that could land him the Calder Trophy.
I was born and raised in Mission Viejo, California, and currently live in Visalia, California. Graduated from CSUF in 2016 with a B.A. in Cinema and Television Arts. I’ve been a sports fan for my entire life, rooting for the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Rams and Miami Heat. In my free time, I enjoy playing video games, trying to pour a perfect cup of coffee, and testing out a local craft beer.