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Dynamic center Trevor Zegras agrees to 3-year contract extension with Anaheim Ducks

By JOE REEDY
AP Sports Writer

Trevor Zegras has already proved he is one of the NHL’s most marketable young players. He will now have three years to prove he can be one of the league’s top-tier players.

Zegras agreed to a three-year contract extension with the Anaheim Ducks on Monday worth $17.25 million, with an annual salary cap hit of $5.75 million.

The 22-year old Zegras was a restricted free agent and was working out in New York. He will report to Ducks training camp on Tuesday, giving him time to get ready for the Oct. 14 opener at Vegas.

“I think there’s so much upside for Trevor. We’re looking at this as a way for him to be able to attain and become the player over the next three years that he hopes to become and then for us to be able to see him become a cornerstone of this franchise,” general manager Pat Verbeek said.

The 22-year old Zegras had a team-high 65 points last season, becoming the third-youngest NHL player to lead his team in points. He set a career high in assists with 42 and matched his personal best in goals (23).

He’s also produced some of the league’s most viewed and viral highlights. During the 2021-22 season, when he made the league’s All-Rookie team, Zegras had two “Michigan Goals.” That’s a lacrosse-style score when a player scoops up the puck with the blade of the stick and then tries to whip the stick around the net and put the puck in the top corner of the net over the goalie’s shoulder. He also had an alley-oop pass to Sonny Milano for a goal during a game in Buffalo.

Zegras is only the second player in the franchise’s 30-year history to reach 60 points in multiple seasons before turning 23. He was the ninth overall pick by the Ducks in the 2019 draft after a season at Boston University. He finished second in voting for the Calder Trophy in 2021-22 after becoming only the third American NHL player to surpass 60 points as a rookie.

The Ducks are hoping Zegras is an integral part of their rebuilding project. Anaheim has gone five seasons without making the playoffs and their 58 points last season were the lowest in the league.

Zegras is part of a core that includes veteran captain Troy Terry along with forward Mason McTavish, the third overall pick in the 2021 draft, and defenseman Leo Carlsson, who was picked second overall in the June draft.

Verbeek and new coach Greg Cronin would like to see Zegras improve his defense and faceoffs. He was minus-24 last season while averaging nearly 19 minutes per game and won only 41.4% of his faceoffs.

“I’m looking for him to develop more of a two-way game,” Verbeek said. “There’s going to be a lot of things that he’s going to be able to learn from Greg and how we’re going to play as a group. I had some really good discussions before we signed this contract with Trevor on some of the things that we were going to be asking him to do. And he was all in, which is a positive thing.”

Verbeek said the Ducks are continuing discussions with defenseman Jamie Drysdale about getting a deal done. Drysdale is also a restricted free agent but played only eight games last season due to a torn labrum in his left shoulder.

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL

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