Possibly the best play-maker in the draft, even with full knowledge that Jack Hughes exists. The slick passing forward has played both at center and on the wing with the USNTDP but likely goes into the NHL as a left winger who drives play. Shifty, water bug who sometimes gets overly creative.
Name: Trevor Zegras
Date of Birth: March 20, 2001
Nationality (Place of Birth): American (Bedford, NY, USA)
The above spider graph, courtesy of Kyle Pereira of Puck77, displays the available data from Will Scouch. As shown, Zegras is very good at driving the play and his production at 5-on-5 is very good. He could stand to shoot more but as an pure elite playmaker its expected that his goal and shot totals are lower. Overall Zegras isn’t the best at anything but still drives play very well and has an excellent on-ice Goals For%.
An excellent skater, Trevor Zegras has as elite edge work and agility. His shiftiness is aided by good speed on his skates. He can create separation in one-on-one scenarios in a number of ways. Zegras uses his agility and quick change of direction to break away and once he gets a step he has the skill and speed to make defenders pay. His skating is on display when he is shifted to the wing as he has excellent offensive awareness. He often leaves the defensive zone at the perfect time to put pressure in the opposition by attacking the blue-line. A tendency to overly trust his skill and skating has gotten the American water-bug into trouble at times.
Video courtesy of Draft Dynasty Youtube Channel
With his elite skating ability as one of his primary tools, he uses it to his advantage in all three zones. Transitional play is a strength of Zegras’ because of his tendency to take unique skating paths out of the defensive zone, patiently waiting for the smart and efficient play. This same ability is used to enter the offensive zone often times skating east-west looking for the opening to carry the puck into the zone. The the video below, Zegras does an excellent job of getting behind the defence and the using a burst of speed to beat the opponents to the outside and then unleashes a good, well placed shot on net for the goal.
#NTDP: Future BU Terrier teammates conenct as LHD Domenick Fensore with a beautiful pass to catch C Trevor Zegras in stride for a goal that made it 1-1 in the first. Fensore has to be on every NHL team's radar by now. He and Warren have been the best NTDP defenders for weeks. pic.twitter.com/dCD0oR1MD5
— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) March 27, 2019
Tweet courtesy of @DraftAnalyst
A hard worker defensively, his coverage low in the zone when playing in the middle is good. He supports his own blue-liners well and rarely over-commits to a player in the corner. The defensively underrated forward has good positioning and couples that with an active stick that’s constantly getting into passing lanes. Despite his lack of size and pure strength, the American forward is excellent at getting under the opponent skin. He seeks to engage physically and plays with an edge. His ability to create contact and still focus on the play at hand is a talent that infuriates his opponents.
Zegras can play center from a defensive perspective, although he will likely need to add some strength of he truly wants to play down the middle at the next level. On the wing, Zegras does an excellent job at supporting down the boards and closing the gap on defencemen with puck possession at the point.
— Stars n’ Stripes Hockey (@StarsStripesHKY) April 28, 2019
Tweet courstesy of @StarsStripesHKY
The “wow factor” in Zegras game comes offensively with his play-making. His ability to identify a play before it happens is a testament to his outstanding hockey IQ and offensive awareness. His passing ability is the best in the entire draft class, with Jack Hughes being a close second. Zegras has the ability to make any pass and do it with consistency. In the video above, Zegras does an excellent job of rolling off the half wall to recive the pass before identifying a soft spot in the defensive coverage and completing a creative drop pass to an area allowing defenceman Cam York to step into the shot. His shot is decent but he relies on an accurate, quick release. He has soft hands and good puck handling ability that doesn’t disappear when Zegras is moving at top speed. Zegras has high upside offensively. If paired with a goal scorer, Zegras could have legitimate 80-plus point potential.
Zegras finished last year as the top center on the USNTDP U17 team after both Hughes and Alex Turcotte were called up to the U18 squad. He took advantage of the extra playing time, showing off all of the offensive skills that are making him one of the top prospects in the 2019 NHL Draft. His playmaking and vision were key in filling in down the middle.
This season was set to begin with Zegras playing on the wing in the top-six but the injury to Alex Turcotte prevented that from happening. Zegras again filled in at center for Turcotte, slotted in behind Hughes. This would help raise his draft stock yet again as he displayed an ability to play center, at least on a part-time basis.
Started in the Middle, Moved to the Wing
The season for Trevor Zegras started in flux as he was moved from the wing to center before the season started to fill in for the Turcotte injury. Due to the circumstances, Zegras was fortunate to be able to display his full arsenal of skills. His underrated defensive game was on display early in the year. His early season on the second line of the USNTDP was productive. He was able to show off all of his offensive skills, both positively and negatively.
He showed his ability to make passes that no other players in this draft can make because his vision and willingness to take chances to make a play are at another level. Due to his inept passing ability, the passes often work out for Zegras. Where the negative began to show was when he would hold onto the puck too long. His desire to look for the perfect play often times comes at the cost of not taking scoring chances of his own. He has often passed up a good shot looking for a great pass even though it never presented itself. As a tendency that can be coached out of his game, this is a weakness that he dealt with all year and improved slightly as the year went on.
#NTDP: Here is an example of how resilient these NTDP kids are. C Trevor Zegras (Ranked No. 4) gets hammered into the boards. Instead of looking for a call or feeling sorry for himself, he bounces back up and scores a highlight-reel goal. pic.twitter.com/gm8wx1jdxh
— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) March 23, 2019
Tweet courtesy of @DraftAnalyst
After moving back to the wing upon Turcotte’s return to the lineup, Zegras moves back to the left wing. It was at this point that his offensive game took its biggest step as he was able to stay on the outside, complete royal road (through the slot) passes as he was able to open up to give himself roughly three quarters of the offensive zone. It’s at the point that Zegras gives himself the option to make the pass or drive to the net a draw defenders towards him. In all this year Was quite successful for Zegras. He put up impressive numbers with the USNTDP with 87 points in just 60 games.
World U18 Disappointment
Zegras performed in the shadow of the dynamic duo of Hughes and Coke Caufield as the third wheel on the line that dominated the tournament. Despite being the tertiary offensive force on the line, Zegras racked up nine assists in just five games. He continued to show off his dynamic skillset but the USA fell to Russia when their 16-year-old goaltender, Yaroslav Askarov, stepped up and stole the game from the Americans. Defeating their rival Canadians in the bronze medal game wasn’t enough to heal the wounds of missing out on a prime chance to win the U18 title with one of the best American teams ever to enter the tournament.
Video courtesy of Puck Prodigy Youtube channel
What the Detractors Say
There are two main complaints that scouts have had with Zegras. Neither is a major issue and both can be easily repaired in his game. The first of which being the lack of total strength. He has the strength to fight through defenders amongst his junior aged level peers, but he may need to put some weight and strength on his 6′ frame, creating a better balance structure. The second fault in Zegras’ game is a fault of many young players. Overconfidence in his ability. The young dynamo can sometimes attempt to be too perfect and he has held the puck for longer than he should have and passed up decent-to-good shots in pursuit of the perfect play/shot even though it won’t always be there. If a coach can get the playmaking wizard to be willing to settle for good chances over forcing great chances and he has a good summer or two post draft, he could easily be on an NHL roster in a couple of years.
Trevor Zegras will be taken…
In most rankings, Zegras is placed somewhere between four and ten. The forward is among a group of players that have settled into what’s been known as the “second tier”. Zegras is firmly in that group. Much of the decision making process in this range will likely be a stylistic preference for whichever team is on the clock.
A couple of fits within that range are the Detroit Red Wings (6th overall) and the Edmonton Oilers (8th overall). In Detroit he would be able to slot in as a center or winger but the important position that he would fill would be that of the primary playmaker. For as good of a playmaker that Dylan Larkin has become, it’s more of a testament to Larkin’s hard work and ability to adapt to what’s needed. Inserting a playmaker such as Zegras next to emerging offensive powers Andreas Athanasiou or Anthony Mantha, serious offensive magic could ensue.
As for Edmonton, Zegras could easily fill their need along the wing, paired with any combination Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl. His ability to thread the needle and the Oilers center depth would be a welcome sign for a team with two elite finishers down the middle. While he is likely to be taken as a center, don’t be the shocked if he comes into camp at 6′ still 178lbs. The dynamic play maker had extensive time on the wing so he could start his NHL career there after a year in the NCAA with Boston University.