Columnists, Ice Hockey, Sports

Off the Post: Trevor Zegras finds stardom in NHL

Trevor Zegras has made a name for himself since leaving Comm. Ave after his 2019-2020 freshman campaign with Boston University. With a 36-point rookie season under his belt and highlights like his game-tying buzzer-beating goal in the 2020 Beanpot final, Zegras had built quite the resume with the Terriers before entering the pros. 

Although he only graced the Agganis Arena ice for a year, Zegras quickly became a young leader the BU group would turn to night in and night out. He has continued to grow a personality and creative style of play that makes him exciting to watch and has carried him all the way to the bright lights of the NHL.

Alexia Nizhny/DFP STAFF

The then 19-year-old forward made his NHL debut with the Anaheim Ducks on Feb. 22, 2021 after being selected ninth overall in the 2019 draft, and he hasn’t looked back. He’s exactly what a plateaued team like Anaheim, and the league as a whole, has been looking for.

To state the obvious, the game of hockey has changed tremendously over the past ten years. It’s all about speed, strength and learned skill. These athletes are more than naturally gifted, and they push themselves to reach a new level of elite. It takes far more now to find success in a league this competitive — everyone is good. 

Zegras is more than good. He’s fun. He’s dynamic. He doesn’t take himself too seriously, and he just loves to be on the ice.

These characteristics culminated in a viral highlight for the Ducks I’m sure anyone reading this has watched, rewatched, and then sent to a couple of people. 

The Buffalo Sabres fell victim to one of the best assists of the season off the stick of Zegras. Elevating the puck behind the net and flipping it mid-air to teammate Sonny Milano who tapped it in, Zegras’ name soon exploded online.  

No doubt a memory he’ll hold forever, the play — and Zegras’ following (hilarious) reaction — meant more for a league that primarily only reaches its die-hard followers. Friends who refused to watch a full 20 minutes of hockey with me started sending me links to the video replays –– the NHL was expanding its reach thanks to a 20-year-old player. 

Although the NHL and its many happenings can seem to be the whole world to hockey fans, the league falls behind the MLB, NBA and NFL in terms of popularity and interaction. From a business standpoint, I’m sure that keeps NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman up at night, and is partially to blame for the overpriced waters at games. 

But it’s also hard from a fan perspective. There’s no way to describe the chills of watching a hometown kid notch his first goal, the stomach churns of overtime in the playoffs or the inexplicable joy that comes from high fiving a stranger when your goalie robs a rival to someone who won’t give the sport a chance. 

The game has given so much to so many, and it’s guys like Zegras that are bringing more eyes to the sport. He represents a new generation of hockey.  Perhaps we’re not ready to fully move on from old school play just yet, but nonetheless, people are buying tickets to watch this guy do his thing. With 29 points in 36 games thus far he has continued to be a force on the ice and has secured his spot in history as a Terrier great.

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