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Opinion: Don’t Bring Up Zegras
By George Casner III
Bringing up Trevor Zegras to the NHL has been a hot topic and was discussed on our latest podcast episode. In my opinion, I do not think the Ducks should bring Trevor Zegras up this year. Now, before I get hate mail, let me explain.
In my opinion, there is something going on with the Ducks and it is causing problems, primarily offensively for this team. I believe that it has to do with the coaching staff and/or player development. I want to examine a few of the young players and show that they can’t produce with this team.
Please note, I will not be mentioning assists, strictly goals. This team, as mentioned in the episode, is barely getting on the board. Also I will be starting my analysis at the 2015-16 season because I believe that is when the Ducks began their decline into this “rebuild/retool”.
But let’s get back to the matter at hand, something is different in San Diego than in Anaheim and the numbers can prove it.
For example, one of my favorite draft picks, Max Jones.
2015-16 (London Knights), 63 games, 28 goals
2016-17 ( London Knights), 33 games, 17 goals
2017-18 (London Knights “A”), 25 games, 18 goals
2017-18 (Kingston Frontenaces), 6 games, 1 goal
2017-18 (Team USA), 7 games, 1 goal
Overall, not bad numbers, he was roughly getting a goal every other game. Not a superstar caliber but that’s a solid player who should reliably get you on the board, right?
2018-19 (Anaheim Ducks), 30 games, 2 goals
2018-19 (San Diego gulls), 43 games, 14 goals
2019-20 (Anaheim Ducks), 59 games, 8 goals
2019-20 (San Diego Gulls), 8 games, 2 goals
2020-21 (Anaheim Ducks), 6 games, 1 goal
Clearly he is producing much better in San Diego than in Anaheim and you might be thinking that this is a fluke, or that he isn’t ready for the NHL yet, or something along those lines, but it’s not just Max Jones.
Let’s look at Sam Steel next.
2015-16 (Regina Pats “A”), 72 games, 23 goals
2016-17 (Regina Pats “A”), 66 games, 50 goals
2017-18 (Regina Pats “C”), 54 games, 33 goals
2017-18 (Team Canada), 7 games, 4 goals
Much like Max Jones, solid numbers. But here is where the change occurs.
2018-19 (Anaheim Ducks), 22 games, 6 goals
2018-19 (San Diego Gulls), 53 games, 20 goals
2019-20 (Anaheim Ducks), 65 games, 6 goals
2020-21 (Anaheim Ducks), 14 games, 0 goals
A sharp decline when he made the jump to the NHL. But two players isn’t enough, we need to go deeper down this rabbit hole.
Troy Terry, another one of my favorites.
2015-16 (University of Denver), 41 games, 9 goals
2016-17 (University of Denver), 35 games, 22 goals
2017-17 (Team USA), 7 games, 4 goals
2017-18 (University of Denver “A”), 39 games, 14 goals
2017-18 (Anaheim Ducks), 2 games, 0 goals
Personally, I don’t count those two games with the Ducks. I mean, that’s barely getting your toes wet. But here is where the numbers drop, like those before him.
2018-19 (Anaheim Ducks), 32 games, 4 goals
2018-19 (San Diego Gulls), 41 games, 16 goals
2019-20 (Anaheim Ducks), 47 games, 4 goals
2019-20 (San Diego Gulls), 14 games, 7 goals
2020-21 (Anaheim Ducks), 12 games, 2 goals
Once again, we see that huge drop off when he is in the NHL.
Do you see the trend forming here? Worst yet, Max Jones and Sam Steel were first round picks. They were meant to be the future of this team.
Actually, speaking of first round picks and guys who were supposed to be the future of this team, let’s take a look at Nick Ritchie (now a member of the Boston Bruins) and see his numbers.
In 2015-16 Ritchie was already with the Ducks, so let’s go back a couple seasons.
2013-14 (Peterborough Petes “A”), 61 games, 39 goals
2014-15 (Peterborough Petes “A”), 25 games, 14 goals
2014-15 (Soo Greyhounds “A”), 23 games, 15 goals
2014-15 (Team Canada), 7 games played, 1 goal
Very good numbers. Now let’s look at his time in Anaheim and San Diego.
2015-16 (Anaheim Ducks), 33 game, 2 goals
2015-16 (San Diego Gulls), 38 games, 16 goals
2016-17 (Anaheim Ducks), 77 games, 14 goals
2017-18 (Anaheim Ducks), 60 games, 9 goals
2019-20 (Anaheim Ducks), 41 games, 8 goals
2019-20 (Boston Bruins), 7 games, 1 goal
2020-21 (Boston Bruins), 12 games, 4 goals
Again, we see this sharp drop off when these kids come up to the Ducks and I believe that is linked to the coaching staff.
Obviously on the top of that list is Head Coach, Dallas Eakins. But I don’t think he is the problem here. He was the Head Coach for the Gulls from 2015-19 (when all those kids were with the Gulls). Not to mention this in only his second year as Head Coach. This isn’t even close to his fault.
Next is Advisor to the Coaching Staff, Darryl Sutter. He just started his second season with this team, too. So, he’s not at fault.
After that is Assistant Coach, Mark Morrison. He joined during the 2017-18 season. Prior to that he was an assistant coach for the Manitoba Moose and John’s IceCaps, both affiliates of the Winnipeg Jets. But he is just starting his fourth year here, so I don’t think he has anything to do with the offensive problems.
The other Assistant Coach, Marty Wilford, just completed his second season here. So, just like Darryl Sutter, he gets a pass.
Next is Sudarshan Maharaj, who is the Goaltending Coach. Clearly he is the problem. I mean, honestly, John Gibsonhas scored 0 goals since he started, this is obviously his fault. (Totally kidding, Gibby is a machine! Without him this team wouldn’t have half the wins they do.)
Joe Piscotty and Brett Ferguson are both Video Coaches. Joe Piscotty has been with the team for 10 years and Brett Ferguson just finished his first year with the Ducks, but regardless of their time here, I don’t feel like the video coaches are the issue.
However, the last member of the coaching staff is where I believe the cracks begin to show. Larry Barron is the Skating and Skills Development Coach. This was just his second year in that position and while that would normally get a pass, as it did for those above, he was the skating consultant for the Ducks from 2013-18. So while his role has changed, he has been involved with the way that they skate for several seasons now; and though I feel that he bears some responsibility, I pin a large blame on the General Manager.
Bob Murray. Just typing his name frustrates me. I wrote a very lengthy article about how I don’t think he is the right GM for this team. I am appreciative for his years of service and everything that he has done for this team; but it’s time for him to go. I will summarize the article by saying he has been the GM since November of 2008. That means his record is: 13 years, 8 playoff appearances, 5 Division Titles, 2 Conference Finals appearances, 0 Stanley Cup Final appearances, 0 Stanley Cups. Not to mention that he rarely makes any groundbreaking moves.
Building off of that, he also is constantly looking at the players. Saying things like, “They need to play better” or to, “Step their game up”, but I think he needs to look at his longest standing member of the coaching staff. When your players are not performing well with the NHL but are doing amazing in AHL, then something is wrong with the coaching staff and the only thing that has remained the same there is Larry Barron.
Larry’s job is to help the team develop and do better. Clearly that isn’t happening. They cannot produce offense at all. But, much like with the Randy Carlylesituation, Bob Murrayis not doing anything except flapping his lips. He gives the same excuses time after time and even says that the Ducks are in, “win now mode.”
What? Are him and I watching the same team?
He is the biggest problem followed by Larry Barron; and I believe that if Trevor Zegras were to come up to the NHL right now, he wouldn’t develop right. He might develop bad habits, get lazy, or worse, get stuck in the same situation Gibby is in, where the team relies on him way too much.
Those are two things I don’t want to see happen. If he becomes like Max Jones or Sam Steel I would be very disappointed and if he becomes the next John Gibson, then he will be frustrated as all get out.
I know the organization can’t keep Zegras down in the AHL forever but I believe they need to leave him there for the remainder of this season, cut ties with GM BM during the offseason, and then bring up Zegras under new leadership.
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February 15th, 2021