The Anaheim Ducks have averted a potential holdout situation with their young star.
They have given restricted free agent Trevor Zegras a new three-year contract that will allow him to join the team before the beginning of the regular season. The contract will carry a cap hit of $5.75 million, and will carry over to 2025-26, bringing the total value of the contract to $17.25 million.
Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet said on 32 Thoughts: The Podcast that he felt the two sides moved towards a resolution at the contract dispute, and he was correct.
“We are very pleased to be able to get Trevor signed and back on the ice where he belongs,” said general manger Pat Verbeek. “We view Trevor as a critical and valued player and member of our organization and can’t wait to see the next chapter in his career.”
Ducks Lock Up Their Young Star
Zegras is already one of the top young stars in the NHL, at 22 years old, and is just scratching the surface of his potential. He alerady has 49 goals and 90 assists in 180 career NHL games and has already put up a lot of highlight-reel plays. While he has elite playmaking skills, the Ducks were hesitant to give him a long-term contract. A bridge deal could come back to bite them if Zegras turns into a superstar in the NHL.
This resolves a long-standing situation in which there seemed to be no end to a rocky negotiation process between the Ducks and Zegras. Few talks between both sides happened, and the saga carried on over late into the summer, and onto training camp, and it was baffling since the Ducks had the most salary cap in the league after everything settled in free agency. Renaud Lavoie of TVA reported that the Ducks were only offering him between $3 million and $4 million per season on a bridge deal.
They eventually upped their offer to get their star forward back, and it arguably gives them more flexibility when his contract expires. A four- or five-year deal would be a little riskier, as it would walk him directly to unrestricted free agency or just one year away, which could have forced a trade if Zegras was not willing to stay. Instead, his contract will expire two years away from UFA eligibility, giving Anaheim more team control. Combined with a bargain cap hit, this is good for a short-term contract.
Ducks Looking for All-Around Improvement on the Ice
Anaheim is not expected to contend for a playoff spot, but they still have to improve on an all-around poor outing last season with new head coach Greg Cronin. With Alex Killorn set to miss the first month of the season because of a broken finger, they’re now down two forwards with shutdown centreman Isac Lundeström already on the sidelines because of an offseason Achilles tendon injury.
Had this situation been unsolved, Zegras would most likely have held out, and it would put Anaheim at an even bigger disadvantage. Now he comes back to the team after leading them in scoring last season, with 23, and 65 points in 81 games. He is the second player in Ducks history to reach 60 points multiple times before turning 23, after Hall of Famer Paul Kariya.
Zegras looks to get back at his role as the team’s first line center to begin the season, most likely with Troy Terry as his right wing and Adam Henrique to his left. After the signing of Jamie Drysdale, who is coming off shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum which forced him to miss all but eight games of last season, to a three-year, $6.9 million contract, they have $9.26 million left in cap space while carrying a 24-man roster, one over the limit of 23.
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