NHL Rumor Mill – April 2, 2024

The latest speculation on the Ducks’ Trevor Zegras plus a look at the Sharks’ rebuild in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks doesn’t know what’s gone wrong in Anaheim for Trevor Zegras. He observed that the 23-year-old Ducks forward always seems frustrated or agitated, pointing out he destroyed the penalty box camera in Seattle last Thursday following a questionable call.

Brooks believes Zegras is “a young man who is clearly in need of a new beginning.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zegras is most likely frustrated by being limited to eight points in 24 games after missing most of this season to injuries. His contract negotiations with Ducks management kept him out of training camp and preseason play.

Anaheim Ducks forward Trevor Zegras (NHL Images).

Zegras exceeded 60 points in each of his last two seasons. However, there was some disappointment in his performance last season as the Ducks wanted to see improvement in his all-around game. That can be considered growing pains as part of his development rather than a flaw that cannot be corrected.

CHICAGO HOCKEY NOW: Nate Brown noted the TNT Hockey panel recently discussing whether Zegras has a future in Anaheim.

Anson Carter noted some question marks as the Ducks have “an embarrassment of riches down the middle”, pointing to Leo Carlsson, Cutter Gauthier (who primarily plays left wing) and Mason McTavish. He wondered if they have room for Zegras as they attempt to bolster their defensive depth.

Meanwhile, ESPN’s John Buccigross remains bullish on the Ducks forward. He believes Zegra has a “Pavel Datsyuk ceiling.”

Brown wondered if the rebuilding Blackhawks should look into Zegras’ availability. Despite his struggles this season, the Ducks would still set a high asking price based on his potential. Brown suggests it might be best to wait a year to see what a deal would take if questions still linger about his future in Anaheim.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Following the trade deadline, Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek said he wasn’t shopping Zegras nor did any club call about him. Nevertheless, teams could still make inquiries during the offseason, especially if Verbeek starts shopping around for more immediate help for his roster.


DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli believes the San Jose Sharks seem to have a cohesive rebuilding plan after paring down some of the big contracts from their books. However, a lack of salary-retention spots for next season makes it unlikely that they’ll ship out more high-salaried players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Each NHL team has three salary-retention slots enabling them to absorb part of a player’s salary cap hit to facilitate a trade. The Sharks used theirs to move Brent Burns to Carolina in 2022, Erik Karlsson to Pittsburgh last summer and Tomas Hertl to Vegas at last month’s trade deadline.

The Sharks must wait until the end of next season to regain a salary retention spot. That’s when Burns’ contract expires. They’ll have to wait for Karlsson to come off the books in 2027 for their next one.

They can’t retain salary if they attempt to move another high-salaried player such as Logan Couture of Marc-Edouard Vlasic. That’s assuming either player is willing to expand their no-trade clauses. They each have three-team trade lists.

If Couture or Vlasic accept a trade, the Sharks must take back a bad contract or include sweeteners like draft picks and prospects. Neither scenario will happen given management’s desire to shed salary and replenish their prospect pool.