Canadian v. Ducks | In Defense of Trevor Zegras

The Anaheim Ducks arrive in Montreal on Tuesday evening, but the most important issue to watch will not be on the ice at the Bell Center.

Rather, it is Trevor Zegras, an ultra-talented striker who, at 22, finds himself at the heart of the transaction rumors.

Zegras will not play Tuesday, he who fractured his left ankle last month and who still has to wait a few weeks before returning to the game. For their part, the Ducks are 20 points from the last place giving access to the playoffs; I might as well say it’s over.

So this is the kind of team likely to liquidate some assets between now and the trade deadline, a reality that the team’s head coach, Greg Cronin, does not deny.

“Think about it: what were you doing at 20, 21? We have so many young people. Leo Carlsson is 19 years old. The young people arrive at the arena with rainbows and hickeys, Cronin imagined, at the end of the Ducks’ morning practice. They just want to play hockey. The trade deadline is not going to affect them. But then you have (Adam) Henrique, (Jakob) Silfverberg, and the name of (Ilya) Lyubushkin starts to circulate. But they’re pros, they’re amazing, and they’re mature enough to know that they have no control over this. »

Henrique and Silfverberg are in their thirties; Lyubushkin will join their club in April. It’s normal that their names get around. This is a little less normal for Zegras. At 22 years old, after seasons of 61 and 65 points, with extraordinary individual skills, he should be part of the future of the waterflies. But we would have thought the same thing for Kirby Dach in Chicago, with the result that we know.

Zegras began his season with a contract dispute with the Ducks, before signing a three-year deal on October 2, 12 days before the start of the season. But injuries prevented him from taking off, he was not very productive when he played (7 points in 20 games) and was even benched during a game in Columbus in October. Elements which fueled the murmurs and which ensured that his name appeared in the lists of players “on the market” of TSN and The Athletic, among others.

Cronin took advantage of his platform in front of the Montreal media to deliver a plea for Zegras.

“Albie O’Connell recruited him and coached him (at Boston University). He told me: he is greatly misunderstood. He is a media magnet, because of the acrobatic plays he does. Few players do this, and it’s controversial. (John) Tortorella says you can’t do that.

“But then, as a person, he is very dedicated, he has a great hockey IQ and he is very easy to lead. When you tell him to do A, B and C, he does it. He needs directions and he will follow them. He’s also an incredible teammate. I know I benched him in Columbus because he was committing turnovers. But he was the first to wait for his teammates on the ice to congratulate them at the end of overtime. That says a lot about his character. He’s a guy who thinks of the team first. »

Carlsson makes you dream


Leo Carlsson

Zegras will not be there, but Leo Carlsson will be there. The 2e choice in the last draft, after Connor Bedard, is quietly taking his path.

Remember that at the start of the season, he did not play every game, since the Ducks wanted to manage his energy. The big Swede was coming off the hectic cycle of a draft year and the team wanted to give him a chance to catch up.

“I had the World Championship, the evaluation camp in Buffalo, then the draft. I had maybe four weeks to train last summer. So they wanted me to be able to train more in the gym,” said Carlsson, in the visitors’ locker room.

He was left out seven times, then was injured on December 21 and missed four weeks. The team, however, made it known that this regime was over and that he would now play every match. Not only is he doing it, but since his return, his playing time stands at 19:17 per game.

“I wasn’t measuring anything, our sports science people were doing it. They did a very good job with him, Cronin believes. Some players would complain and want to play more. But he and his agent agreed to the plan.

“He’ll probably be 6’4, 215 lbs in a year and a half. He’s still growing. But he is already strong on the puck, he stops the progress of his opponents. He may be 195 lbs, but he’s very strong on his stick. When he finishes developing, he will be a star in this league. »

A first for Groulx

Let’s stay young. At 24, forward Benoît-Olivier Groulx will play at the Bell Center for the first time. The old choice of 2e tour, son of coach Benoît Groulx, is still looking for a first goal this season, after 30 matches.

The opportunity would obviously be great to break the ice at the Bell Centre, but he will experience an even more special evening on Thursday when the Ducks are in Ottawa. As his father managed the Gatineau Olympics for a long time, the young man identifies more with 819 and 613, than with 514 and the infamous 438.

“I always watched the Canadiens, I always wanted to play at the Bell Centre,” admitted Groulx. But Ottawa was 25 minutes from my house, it was easier to get there. So I was more of a Sens guy than a Montreal guy when I was little. »


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