With the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and Western Hockey League (WHL) yet to start their 2020-21 seasons, there is an influx of young talent into the American Hockey League (AHL). The first few days of the new AHL season have been dominated by a group of young players new normally wouldn’t even be allowed to play in the league. The Anaheim Ducks’ top prospect had a huge debut weekend, a future Vegas Golden Knight scored his first professional goal and a Dallas Stars defensive prospect was the difference in overtime.
Trevor Zegras Honored for Huge Debut
So far, 2021 has been pretty sweet for Zegras. He led the United States to the gold medal at World Junior Championship by scoring seven goals and 18 points in seven games on his way to taking home most valuable player honors.
He made his professional debut with the San Diego Gulls over the weekend and his transition to the AHL was a smooth one. He had a goal and two assists during the Gulls’ 4-1 win over the Bakersfield Condors (Edmonton Oilers) on Friday night. He was right back at it in the rematch on Saturday by scoring the game-winning goal and picking up an assist in a 4-3 victory for San Diego.
On Monday, the AHL named Zegras the Player of the Week for his two goals and five points over the weekend. His first six weeks of 2021 is showing exactly why the Ducks used the ninth pick of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft to select him. Zegras and the Gulls have three home games this week; Wednesday night against the Ontario Reign (Los Angeles Kings) and back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday versus the Colorado Eagles (Colorado Avalanche).
Peyton Krebs Nets His First Pro Goal
The Henderson Silver Knights had a very successful debut as they started their inaugural season as the AHL affiliate of the Golden Knights. They beat the Reign 5-2 on Saturday night and then came back to win Monday’s rematch 6-2.
Krebs came up huge last night by factoring into half of the Silver Knights’ goals. He set up a pair of Reid Duke goals, one to open up the scoring and the other increased Henderson’s lead to 3-0. Ontario stormed back with two quick goals before Krebs put an end to their momentum with his first professional goal.
While on a 5-on-3 advantage, Krebs found a soft spot on the ice, just below the right circle and blasted home a feed from Lucas Elvenes.
Krebs also had an assist in Saturday night’s win so he has a goal and four points in his first two AHL games. Setting up his teammates is nothing new for the 20-year-old center. In 175 career WHL games with the Winnipeg Ice, he had 139 assists. He also had five helpers during Team Canada’s seven-game silver medal run at the World Junior Championship.
Thomas Harley Wins it in OT
Harley is one of the young players who would be playing junior hockey in a normal season. But, because the OHL’s season has yet to begin, he made his professional debut with the Texas Stars in their three-game set at the Iowa Wild (Minnesota Wild).
Dallas’ 2019 first-round pick (18th overall) averaged a point per game during the season-opening series in Iowa. He had an assist in Friday night’s 8-4 win and had a helper on Texas’ lone goal during Saturday’s 4-1 loss. In Monday’s rubber match, Harley scored the game-winning goal midway through overtime.
Harley skated the puck down below the goal line where he banked a backhand shot off the skate of goaltender Dereck Baribeau for his first AHL goal. He and the Stars will head back home to Cedar Park, TX where they will begin a three-game series versus the San Jose Barracuda (San Jose Sharks).
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.