Trevor Zegras received his marching orders from Ducks general manager Bob Murray in the form of a motivational phone call earlier this week. Zegras wasn’t with the Ducks to start training camp in Irvine, but he was playing with Team USA at the World Junior Championship in Edmonton.
“I reminded him (Wednesday) night that the reason he’s at World Juniors starts (Thursday),” Murray said, referring to the Americans’ final preliminary round game against Sweden. “He’s got to help lead that team and get them into the finals. That’s why I sent him there.
“So far, so good.”
Zegras sparked the United States to a 4-0 victory over Sweden with one goal and two assists, giving him a tournament-high 13 points, including a co-leading six goals, in four games. The Americans (3-1) won Group B and advanced to play Slovakia on Saturday in the quarterfinals.
The U.S. could be on a collision course with Team Canada and another Ducks first-round draft pick, defenseman Jamie Drysdale. The Canadians (4-0) won Group A and will face the Czech Republic in a quarterfinal game Saturday. Drysdale has two points, both assists, in four games.
The semifinals are Monday and the championship game is Tuesday.
Zegras, a center who has played left wing during the tournament, was the first of the Ducks’ two first-round picks in 2019, going ninth overall. Drysdale was the first of their two first-round picks in 2020, going sixth. They’re rivals for the moment, but could be teammates sooner rather than later.
The play of Zegras, in particular, has ignited a fire within the Ducks’ fanbase on social media. Clips of his goals and assists are shared on Twitter and elsewhere and speculation about his arrival to the Ducks has run rampant as he has come to lead the U.S. to the elimination round.
Murray and the coaching staff are eager to see what Zegras can do for the Ducks, too.
“He’s a really fun player to watch,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said of Zegras, a 19-year-old native of Bedford, New York. “Some of the things he can do really add value to the game. We compete in a sport, but we are in the entertainment business, and he certainly has been entertaining.”
After one season at Boston University and a strong showing at World Juniors, is Zegras ready to make the leap to the NHL? Ducks right wing Troy Terry wouldn’t rule it out after working out on the ice and in the gym alongside Zegras this fall.
Terry also used a standout performance for Team USA at the World Junior Championship in 2016-17 as a springboard to a regular spot in the Ducks’ lineup last season. Terry was a member of the University of Denver’s NCAA championship team and played for the U.S. in the 2018 Olympics.
“From the first moment I stepped on the ice with him, you could just see the poise and the confidence and just the skill level that he has,” Terry said of Zegras. “I think one of the things that makes him great is he’s got the ability to make all those plays and he’s super-talented, but sometimes it looks like he doesn’t have a pulse out there because he’s just so calm. … I guess swag is the right word.
“He’s got confidence in himself and that’s what you need as a young guy.”
DOSTAL, PERREAULT SHINE
The Ducks held the first of what could be as many as four scrimmages during their two-week training camp. Eakins praised the play of goaltender Lukas Dostal and right wing Jacob Perreault, two promising young players who aren’t expected to make the opening night roster.
Dostal and Perreault were teammates on the White team Friday morning at Great Park Ice, with Dostal forming a tandem in goal with John Gibson and Perreault skating on a line with left wing Antoine Morand and center Benoit-Olivier Groulx.
Dostal, a 20-year-old native of Brno, Czech Republic, who was the Ducks’ third-round pick (85th overall) in the 2013 draft, was 10-1-0 with a 1.64 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage in 11 games to start the season with Ilves in Finland’s Liiga.
Perreault, the 18-year-old son of former NHL player Yanic Perreault, was the second of the Ducks’ two first-round picks (27th overall) in the 2020 draft. He hasn’t returned to play with the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League this season because of the Canadian coronavirus shutdown.