6. Notable Absentee – Anaheim Ducks
The Anaheim Ducks have been hard at it but it is possible that one player not at Training Camp is the one sparking the most discussion and interest.
We are of course talking about Trevor Zegras.
The No. 9 overall pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft by the Ducks is currently lighting it up at the 2021 World Junior Championship, where he leads the entire tournament in points with 15 points (6 G, 9 A) in five games.
Zegras has easily been the biggest offensive spark for Team USA and one of the best players of the entire tournament, raising questions over whether or not he will be on the Ducks’ Opening Night roster.
Given that Anaheim is currently still in rebuild mode, they would have nothing to lose by putting Zegras on their Opening Night roster and seeing what he can do at the NHL level.
He boasts elite ability and an incredibly high ceiling and could be the spark the Anaheim Ducks need in the 2020-21 season.
5. Shot at redemption – LA Kings
One interesting name to watch during Training Camp for the LA Kings has been Swedish center Lias Andersson, who was acquired in a trade from the New York Rangers during the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
Selected with the seventh overall pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Andersson was a bust with the Rangers and his time in New York was mired by a string of controversies.
However, he has been presented with a fresh start in Los Angeles and it has been an impressive start to Training Camp for Andersson, who has developed strong chemistry on a line with fellow Swedes Carl Grundstrom and Samuel Fagemo.
Andersson scored on the first two days of Camp while adding some toughness and grit to that line, which forced a number of turnovers throughout the scrimmages. That trio could be a wildcard line heading into the 2020-21 season for the Kings, while Andersson may be a dark horse candidate for a breakout campaign.
And, if Lias Andersson can resurrect his career with the LA Kings, then that would add another high-end weapon to what is a loaded prospect pool that could lead to a return to the glory days for the Kings.
4. Defense is key – Detroit Red Wings
The Detroit Red Wings were the worst team in the NHL in 2019-20. And it wasn’t even close.
Finishing the shortened regular season with just 17 wins and 39 points – the second-worst team the Ottawa Senators had 62 points for some perspective – the Red Wings were god awful and it didn’t help they allowed 3.73 Goals Against Per Game, the worst mark in the NHL.
Therefore, some improvement was needed on the backend during the offseason and General Manager Steve Yzerman made that his biggest priority, making a boatload of moves to significantly bolster that backend.
In came veterans Jon Merrill and Marc Staal along with former Vancouver Canucks blueliner Troy Stecher, and those new additions look a huge upgrade for the Red Wings already. Just a few days into Training Camp the Red Wings look solid in their own zone, with Staal in particular really standing out.
The 6-foot-4 and 209 pounds veteran has been paired with Patrik Nemeth, another hulking giant, and the two could form a crucial shutdown tandem for the Red Wings who will hope to be a lot more competitive in 2020-21.
Staal will also be a huge addition in that young locker room and he could be a vital glue guy for what is a team still navigating a lengthy rebuild, while his experience and leadership should help to improve what was the worst defense in the entire league last year.