IRVINE, Calif. -- Trevor Zegras could turn out to be exactly what the Anaheim Ducks were looking for when they selected the 18-year-old center with the No. 9 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.
The Ducks are aging at the position and believe Zegras soon will be able to add fresh legs.
"I'm a 200-foot center," Zegras said during Ducks development camp in June. "I think that'll be really beneficial."
Ryan Getzlaf has spent most of his 14 NHL seasons as the Ducks' No. 1 center, but he's 34 years old and has two seasons left on his contract.
Ryan Kesler, 34, was a Selke Trophy finalist and scored 22 goals in 2016-17, but he's played 104 games the past two seasons because of injuries. He likely won't play this season, and might not play again in the NHL, after having right hip resurfacing surgery May 9.
Zegras won't provide immediate help, as he's committed to Boston University this season, but it likely won't be too long before the on-ice vision and scoring touch he showed last season with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 team is ready for the NHL.
Video: Ducks draft F Trevor Zegras No. 9
A natural center, Zegras occasionally played left wing on a line with center Jack Hughes, who was taken No. 1 in the 2019 draft by the New Jersey Devils. Zegras had 87 points (26 goals, 61 assists) in 60 games, third on the NTDP behind Hughes (112 points) and forward Cole Caufield (100 points), who was selected by the Montreal Canadiens with the No. 15 pick.
Anaheim coach Dallas Eakins, who was hired June 17, said Zegras stood out from the first drill at development camp.
"This morning his skills were on full display," Eakins said on the third day of camp. "That's what he's got in his bag now, and we'll see where he develops."
Whenever Zegras is ready for the NHL, he expects his creativity and vision to set him apart.
"It just kind of comes natural," he said. "I don't really have to think about it too much. You don't really go into it knowing what you're going to do. You just kind of let it happen."
Zegras said he always has watched a lot of hockey and tries to emulate the best players. His longtime favorite is Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane, one of the most creative players in the NHL.
Like many of those players, Zegras is always looking to improve.
"I want to become more of a shooter for sure," he said. "I find myself in some pretty good scoring areas most of the time and usually I always look for the right pass, but maybe shoot the puck a little bit more."
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