Today’s “Prospects News & Rumors” column takes us on a trip through the National Hockey League’s West Division. An Anaheim Ducks top prospect made his NHL debut and fit right in last night. A high draft pick of the Vegas Golden Knights is back in the Western Hockey League (WHL) and performing well. Plus, a San Jose Sharks hopeful is tearing it up in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).
Trevor Zegras & Jamie Drysdale Score First NHL Goals
The Ducks have two young stars that won’t be considered prospects for much longer in Zegras and Drysdale. After very successful and short stints with the San Diego Gulls in the American Hockey League (AHL), both young stars are playing in the NHL.
Drysdale, the sixth-overall pick of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, made his league debut on Thursday night. He sparked a comeback after the Ducks were down 2-0 to the Arizona Coyotes as his first NHL got them on the board.
The 18-year-old took the puck off the right wall and skated down the blue line until he got the room he wanted to fire off a shot. His wrister banked off defenseman Alex Goligoski and got in behind Adin Hill for his first NHL goal.
Just over two minutes later, Drysdale was credited with the secondary assist on Zegras’ first NHL goal to tie the game.
Those silky-smooth hands are going to cause NHL goaltenders to have nightmares for years to come. Zegras now has a goal and four points through his first 11 games with the Ducks.
“I was joking with [Zegras] on the way here, just saying, ‘You know, if I don’t fall on my solo lap, then it’s a win,’ so it was a lot of fun to get that [goal] under my belt,” Drysdale said after the game. “Coming out with the win on top of it made it that much better.”
Drysdale is the 13th player 18-years-old or younger to have multiple points in his NHL debut. He joined Ray Bourque and Petr Svoboda as the only defensemen to do so.
Peyton Krebs Keeps Streak Alive
Krebs is back in the WHL and captaining the Winnipeg Ice after starting the season in the AHL. The 17th overall pick of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft had a goal and five points in his five games with the Henderson Silver Knights.
After being held off the scoresheet in the Ice’s season-opener, Krebs has got his offensive game going. He had an assist on the eventual game-winning goal shortly after scoring this goal in Thursday night’s 5-2 win over the Moose Jaw Warriors.
Krebs has now scored goals in three straight games, including the game-winning goal in overtime against the Saskatoon Blades on Wednesday night. He has two assists to give him five points in his first four games in the WHL this season.
Vlad Kotkov is Red Hot
While Golden Knights currently one of the best teams out west and the Ducks seem to be on the rise, the Sharks appear to be heading in the opposite direction. They currently have just 25 points; only four teams in the entire NHL have fewer.
As the franchise looks to transition, they will need as many talented young players as they can get their hands on. They may have one in Kotkov, who is having a nice run with the Saint John Sea Dogs in the QMJHL.
He made his debut with the Sea Dogs on March 9 and put up a goal and three assists in a 5-3 win over the Acadie-Bathurst Titan. He followed that up with two goals and an assist on March 13 during a 5-4 victory against the Moncton Wildcats. He has three goals and eight points in his first four games.
The Sharks signed Kotsov, an undrafted free agent, to an entry-level deal back in July of 2018. Before joining the Sea Dogs, he played with the Chicoutimi Saguenéens for three seasons, scoring 77 goals and 156 points in 177 games. He played in one AHL game for the San Jose Barracuda back in 2019 and scored a goal. At 21, he will likely be playing in the AHL full-time next season.
Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.