With 2021 AHL training camps opening up on Tuesday, the San Diego Gulls will have Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale in camp.
After returning from the 2021 World Junior Championships in Edmonton, Alberta, Team Canada’s Jamie Drysdale and Team USA’s Trevor Zegras joined Anaheim Ducks’ training camp. They were there for exactly one day before the organization optioned them to the AHL club in the San Diego Gulls. Drysdale was a no-brainer, given he was selected with the sixth overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. But after Trevor Zegras’ dominant performance at the WJC – scoring seven goals and 18 points in seven games – there was a strong argument for him to play at the NHL level for the shortened 2021 season.
Ultimately, it came down to the Anaheim Ducks’ primary philosophy of bringing their prospects along slowly.
“It’s really simple,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. “It goes back to what I’ve said before. We want to do our best to put players in good places to succeed. It’s our jobs to really look after their careers. Their careers early on are very fragile. This has been going on long before I got here.”
Zegras turns 20 years old in March, so playing in the AHL – COVID-19 pandemic or not – would not be an issue. But historically, Drysdale would not be allowed to play there until his age 20 season. And with the OHL’s season in limbo, Drysdale has no option of returning to the Erie Otters, where he spent the past two seasons.
“I look at it as a positive thing,” Drysdale said of joining the Gulls. “Having the opportunity to play against men on the pro level is definitely exciting for me. I can learn a lot, learn about the game, learn about how I can be effective on this level. That’s what I’m trying to do day in and day out.
As for the Ducks’ ninth overall pick in 2019, Trevor Zegras’ showcase at the WJC and eventual Tournament MVP honors could support him playing in Anaheim sooner than expected. The 19-year-old signed his three-year entry-level contract in March last year. The Ducks’ salary cap situation is not great for 2021, but they’ll have over $20M in salary-cap space after the season without re-signing any of their restricted or unrestricted free agents, of course.
The AHL is scheduled for a February 5 start date, and if Zegras continues to dominate, the San Diego Gulls may not have him for long.
The Ducks also assigned the 2020 first-round pick Jacob Perreault and 2019 first-round pick Brayden Tracey, to the Gulls.