By Michael Walters
For the second night in a row, Trevor Zegras did not play for the Anaheim Ducks. After the Ducks game on Friday, Head Coach Dallas Eakins didn’t feel that Zegras had a good game. As a result, Zegras did not play on Sunday.
Anaheim then took on Colorado on Monday night and again Zegras was not in the lineup. During the Fox Sports West pregame show, they posted this graphic in regards to the Zegras situation.
A NHL player becomes an Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA) if their current contract ends after either 7 Accrued Seasons or they are 27 years of age or older as of June 30.
An Accrued Season is defined as a year in which a skater is on an NHL roster for at least 40 games (30 games for Goalies). Due to the shortened season, the number was reduced from 40 games to 27.
If Zegras is on the roster for 27 games this season, then this year would count as one Accrued Season. If that happened and assuming the next six years were also Accrued Seasons, then Zegras would be a UFA at the end of the 2026-27 season instead of the 2027-28 season.
By limiting the games that Zegras appears in this season, the Ducks would be saving one year before he would be considered a UFA. It’s a long term strategy by General Manager Bob Murray, but it’s difficult to justify if Zegras remains on the taxi squad. If the organization is really concerned about this, then they should send him down to the Gulls to at least get some playing time.
Zegras has been on the roster for 16 games(he was scratched once) this season in Anaheim, so he could be on the roster for 10 more games before hitting that 27 game limit. Anaheim still has 19 games left. The Ducks could send him down now and bring him up for the final 10 games. They could also have him play 10 more games with the Ducks and then send him to the Gulls to finish the year as well.
Regardless if Zegras plays with the Ducks and/or Gulls, he needs to keep getting game experience. Having Zegras on the taxi squad for any extended period of time, is doing him a huge disservice. Also once Zegras’ Entry-Level Contract(ELC) expires, then the Ducks could sign him to a contract up to or past the 2027-28 season, which would make all of this discussion mute.
Lastly, in regards to Jamie Drysdale, he has been on the roster for 7 games so far this season. If he is on the Ducks roster for the remaining games of the season, then he won’t hit that 27 game threshold.
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March 29th, 2021