The Anaheim Ducks signed leading scorer Trevor Zegras to a three-year deal on Monday, ending a contract stalemate a week before the season begins. The average annual salary on Zegras' new contract is $5.75 million, sources told ESPN.
Zegras, 22, led the Ducks in scoring last season with 23 goals and 65 points in 81 games. The center, Anaheim's first-round pick in 2019, made his NHL debut in 2021. In his first full season, Zegras was a finalist for the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year while generating massive buzz for his flashy stick skills, including pulling off a "Michigan goal" with teammate Sonny Milano in a January 2022 game against the Canadiens. That helped land Zegras as a cover athlete for the EA NHL 2023 video game.
However coming off an entry level contract, the Ducks and Zegras' camp had what sources described to ESPN as "an absolute grind" of negotiations, which spilled into the second week of training camp. The Ducks did not want to sign Zegras to a long-term deal, according to sources, which also said Anaheim's initial offer came in at a significantly lower salary than the $5.75 million they ultimately agreed upon.
Zegras is the second player in Ducks history to reach 60 points multiple times before age 23, following Hall of Famer Paul Kariya.
"We are very pleased to be able to get Trevor signed and back on the ice where he belongs," Ducks GM Pat Verbeek said in a statement. "We view Trevor as a critical and valued player and member of our organization and can't wait to see the next chapter in his career."
Verbeek was hired by the Ducks in February 2022, and is tasked with engineering a rebuild. Anaheim has not made the playoffs since 2018. The Ducks have a new coach for this season, Greg Cronin, and still have business to get done before opening night. Defenseman Jamie Drysdale, a restricted free agent, is still negotiating a new deal.
Zegras, a New York native, came up through the United States development team program and played for one season at Boston University.
"There is definitely some catching up to do, but I feel good," Zegras said after his first practice Tuesday. "It's tough to work on your defensive game in the summer. Getting bigger, stronger and faster usually helps in those areas, so I'm trying to build off what I have and go from there."