The Anaheim Ducks’ young dynamic duo is back in action. The team has announced that recent first-round picks Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale, as well as veteran Sam Carrick, have been assigned to the AHL’s San Diego Gulls for the Pacific Division postseason tournament. The group combined for 55 points in 58 games in the AHL this season and will provide a major boost to the No. 3 seed.
This move itself is not a surprise; as young players, it is not strange to see Zegras and Drysdale re-assigned to the minors after their NHL seasons ended. Instead, it’s the timing that is curious. The trio have all been out of action for ten days since the Ducks concluded their season back on May 8. Instead of sending them immediately to the Gulls, who still had regular season game remaining, Anaheim held the group at the NHL level, leading to some speculation that perhaps they would not play again this year. However, they have now been sent down with the playoffs beginning. Perhaps the team simply did not want to risk injury for regular season games, but is more willing with postseason glory on the line. Incidentally, the Ducks also save some money by not having paying out AHL contracts to the group over the past week, with playoff participation now coming cost-free.
Zegras and Drysdale getting some extra play time certainly won’t hurt though, as each lost out on some action in their first pro seasons due to shuffling between the NHL and AHL, on top of an already-shortened schedule. Even in a small sample size though, the duo showed emerging star power and became a bright light in a dim season for the Ducks. Zegras, in just 24 games, recorded 13 points to finish among Anaheim’s top nine scoring forwards. The dynamic play-maker was also the Ducks’ best possession player among lineup regulars and posted a team-best +6 rating. Zegras recorded 10 goals and 21 points in 17 AHL games this year and should dominate in the playoffs this year before refocusing on preparing to take on a top-six role for Anaheim next year. Drysdale, meanwhile, also played in 24 games with the Ducks, recording eight points which was third among defensemen. The 18-year-old may have struggled slightly with adjusting to the defensive requirements of competing in the NHL, but still averaged almost 20 minutes of ice time per game. Drysdale only played in 14 games and, like Zegras, looked out of place, recording ten points and skating around the competition.
Zegras and Drysdale are clearly the cornerstones of the Ducks’ current rebuild. Who can blame them for wanting to take another look at their elite ability in action in the Pacific Division postseason. However, it’s 2021-22 and full NHL seasons for the duo that the Ducks and their fans should really be excited about.