NHL Rumors: Ducks’ Trevor Zegras and John Gibson

Today’s NHL Rumors examines the future of Trevor Zegras and John Gibson with the Anaheim Ducks.

When fans think about the Anaheim Ducks, they remember Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne terrorizing netminders in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Then, they think about Jean-Sebastian Giguere going toe to toe with Martin Brodeur in the Stanley Cup Final before Scott Niedermayer led the team up the mountain a few seasons later in 2007. After that, the club experienced the Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry era before descending into mediocracy. 

However, the team had built a young core with draft picks like Troy Terry, Cam Fowler, Mason McTavish, and Gibson, leading fans to believe a new era was upon them and success would come when everyone matured into superstars. 

Although it’s been a long, winding road for the franchise as of late, they continue to attract talented players like Adam Henrique, Ryan Strome, Jakob Silfverberg, and Radko Gudas to California. However, the franchise still drafts high, recently selecting Leo Carlsson third overall in the 2023 Entry Draft. 

Despite the mixture of homegrown talent and acquired players, there is still uncertainty surrounding the club’s future. Ultimately, a few weeks ahead of training camp, their top player, Zegras, remains unsigned, and Gibson found himself unexpectedly in the rumor mill this summer, leaving fans to wonder what is going on behind closed doors. 

NHL Rumors: Zegras remains top unsigned restricted free agent

Trevor Zegras
May 8, 2021; Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA; Anaheim Ducks center Trevor Zegras (46) celebrates after left wing Max Comtois (53) scores a goal during the third period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

After three seasons, Zegras, who is just 21, has become the face of the Ducks’ franchise thanks to highlight-reel goals, his on-ice chemistry with teammates like Terry and McTavish, and the publicity he gained as the cover athlete for NHL 23. Interestingly, after coming in second to Moritz Seider (Detroit Red Wings) for the Calder Trophy in 2021-22, he continued to work on his craft and improved upon his previous point totals for the third consecutive season. 

However, with an extra minute of ice time per game, his plus/minus numbers worsened, and he took more penalties. Now, no one is saying those are statistics holding up contract negotiations. Still, it seems highly unusual that a naturally talented skater like Zegras remains unsigned this late in the offseason. Considering the Ducks wasted little to no time re-signing Troy Terry to a seven-year deal earlier in the summer, there’s been little to no mention of a potential Zegras deal. 

Ultimately, the two sides are still negotiating a bride deal similar to the one Alexis Lafreniere signed with the New York Rangers. Instead of inking a long-term extension, both parties can agree on a short-term contract, like Auston Matthews in Toronto, and follow that up with a blockbuster package when the time is right in the future. 

As great as that sounds, it does raise a red flag for the fanbase who enjoy watching Zegras score acrobatic goals every other night. If the club is serious about building around Zegras, it does appear odd that we are at this stage without any commitments on paper.

Gibson’s future remains a mystery despite four years left on his contract

Since 2019-20, Gibson has played the fifth most games (195) and surrendered the most goals (622). Even though he is not solely to blame for the Ducks’ recent failures, as the last line of defense, it is his job to stop the puck. 

Interestingly, when the NHL season ended, Gibson heard his name in the rumor mill as news broke that he had requested a trade to a Stanley Cup contender. Although he talked down the rumors, it led people to turn their attention to Southern California because, as the old saying goes, when there is smoke, there’s fire. 

Right now, the two parties are committed to each other for the next four seasons, with Gibson set to make $6.4 million annually until 2026-27. Despite not having the goalie depth to move Gibson today, he could be the top piece in a trade that brings another netminder to town in his place. 

Considering the Ducks currently have over $16 million in cap space, they should be a team everyone in the sport pays attention to as general manager Pat Verbeek continues to build this young team into a contender. Of course, they will keep Zegras for the short term and continue to deploy Gibson to stop pucks, but the summer news cycle has yet to be kind to the club, which still needs to tie up some loose ends before opening night.