Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin says it’s hard to say if Anaheim Ducks forward Trevor Zegras embodies a younger version of himself. But looking at Zegras, it’s easy to see that he does embody a lot of that same energy that the Great 8 had — and still has.
Zegras is quickly rising to prominence and is arguably becoming the new face of fun and skill at the NHL level. There have been some critics, including John Tortorella, who aren’t fans of the 20-year-old’s creative plays, including the “Dishigan” over-the-net pass, the Michigan or his Dodgeball breakaway challenge performance at the 2022 NHL All-Star Skills Competition.
However, the Capitals are fans of the young forward and believe that what he’s doing on the ice is good for the game.
“I don’t know him personally. On the ice, yeah, he’s skilled. He’s still young, and hope he’s gonna continue doing what he’s doing,” Ovechkin said.
“Of course it’s fun. It’s good for game, good for fans. Obviously, when more of those kind of things is gonna be on TV and Internet, publicization of game is going to be much higher.”
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Through 43 games this season, Zegras has dished 12 goals and 21 assists. He has also made multiple highlight-reel plays that have quickly taken over social media. His moves have gone viral and taken over social media, garnering millions of views and young players attempting the same skills. Additionally — and most importantly — it has the game.
Absolute 𝙒𝙄𝙕𝘼𝙍𝘿𝙍𝙔 from Trevor Zegras to Sonny Milano 😱
Milano was +340 to light the lamp tonight ✅
— FanDuel Sportsbook (@FDSportsbook) December 8, 2021
Evgeny Kuznetsov believes that’s just what the NHL ordered.
“That’s what we need more, you know? We need more fun on the ice, more skill,” Kuznetsov said. “I feel like a lot of players have a skill. But you know, they’re afraid to do something because the guys will make jokes or coaches will be hard on them because it’s all about wins. It’s not about like show who you are in the game. And you know, it’s nice that the players try to do something like that and it work out.”
Tom Wilson said that there is a “time and place” for fun and creative plays, but he believes having that is vital for the growth of the game overall.
“A lot of these personalities are evolving and breaking through in the NHL… Everyone’s trying to grow the game,” Wilson explained. “We all love our sport and want what’s best for it. I think there’s a lot of different stuff going on so it’s good to have these young kids and guys like Kuzy kind of be a little different and maybe paving their own path.”