What could the Ducks fetch for Trevor Zegras in trade?

The 2024 summer is gearing up to be dramatic, with Vezina Trophy goaltenders and young top scorers headlining a very active trade market. The Anaheim Ducks may be positioning themselves as the team of the summer amidst it all, as star Ducks forward and former top-10 pick Trevor Zegras is once again facing trade rumors. Trade speculation is nothing new for the former USNTDP standout, who faced plenty of uncertainty entering the season – missing both training camp and preseason action while holding our for a new contract. He ultimately settled on a three-year, $17.2M bridge contract – though Zegras would regardless end up missing most of the season with a broken ankle. He returned from an 11-week absence in March and ultimately totaled 31 games on the year, scoring just 15 points. But despite the down year, Zegras’ age, scoring upside and cheap contract offer rare and incredibly lucrative value on the trade market.

It seems Zegras’ scoring upside has been shrouded behind a down year this season – but there’s no doubting his place among the best young scorers in the league. Zegras posted an impressive 23 goals and 61 points in 75 games as a rookie in 2021-22 – being named the runner-up to Moritz Seider’s 2022 Calder Trophy. To boot, Zegras proved consistent in his sophomore year, managing 65 points and again scoring 23 goals in 81 games. Combined with his modest scoring this year, Zegras has totaled 55 goals and 154 points across his first 211 games. That equates to a 0.72 points-per-game pace, ranking Zegras among the most potent young scorers in the game, and situating him ahead of players like Seth Jarvis, Lucas Raymond and Cole Caufield.

And unlike many young players, Zegras offers the flexibility play both center and winger at an NHL level, with Anaheim mentioning adapting Zegras to center as a key priority in his early development and time in the AHL. He was frequently used down the middle through his first two years in the NHL – though he posted a dismal 40.6 faceoff percentage. The arrival of Leo Carlsson this season was enough to bump Zegras back to the wing, where he struggled to work off the boards in a Ducks system built more on physicality than finesse. His struggles at the faceoff dot make him a hard sale as a full-time center, though his flexibility makes him a match for even more teams.

Zegras’ reputation may be unruly, but he’s been in elite scoring talent since breaking out with the NTDP’s notorious 2019 lineup. With so much consistency between his first two seasons, it seems much more likely that his down year was more the result of a shaky start to the year, marred by prolonged contracting negotiations and injury, than it was an indication that he’s fallen off course. At a spry 23, Zegras is just kicking off his career, already carving out a consistent top-six role and strong scoring pace before many players earn a daily lineup role at all. His offensive upside has vindicated Zegras’ draft spot – as he sits fourth among the 2019 class in NHL scoring – but it also makes him substantially harder to price on the trade market. There simply aren’t previous trades situated around a player as high-scoring or young as Zegras.

It, in a way, hearkens back to Larry Murphy’s move from the Los Angeles Kings to the Washington Capitals in 1983. While the swap differs in a  lot of ways – Murphy most notably being a high scoring defenseman, and a player significantly closer to the league’s greatest at the time of his move. But there are plenty of similarities as well. Murphy also carried top-10 draft pedigree, vindicated by star scoring, and was moved before his 24th birthday. In that case, the Kings received stout top-four defenseman Brian Engblom and Ken Houston as he neared retirement. Zegras’ trade rumors are occurring over four decades later – so there’s like not much to be gleaned from Murphy’s move – though precedent could suggest that the Ducks may need to settle for impactful depth in any move featuring such a young star.

The Ducks will find much more present (and realistic) guidance in the trades of Martin Necas and Nikolaj Ehlers, two other potent scorers on the trade market – though Necas, the younger of the two, is still three years Zegras’ senior. Speculation around what the pair of wingers could fetch has been all over, with Carolina rumored to be interested in top prospects, though even a swap of the pair has been mentioned as a possibility. With Zegras under contract for the next two seasons, and expiring as a restricted free agent, Anaheim has plenty of time to wait and see how the Necas and Ehlers situations pan out. Whatever deal they put together for their young star will undoubtedly be a blockbuster, bringing in the pieces to boost Anaheim into a new era – one led by Carlsson, adorned by new jerseys and hopefully bound for the playoff consistency the Ducks were once known for.


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