In the scouting world it is rare to go a day without hearing some kind of comparison between this player and that player. Typically, it’s regionalized and, in some ways, recollected past of a scouts travels and journeys. “He reminds me of…” is a common thread among older, experienced scouts who have watched countless numbers of players in their time. They know the skills and elements of a player’s game and when one is compared to a great player, it’s worth noting. Selected in the fifth round of the NHL Draft, a player who has drawn comparisons to Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames, a Connecticut native by the name of Patrick Harper, was selected by the Nashville Predators. He had just finished a heralded second season at Avon where he, in his two-year stint, racked up 40 goals and 66 assists in 49 games. He has embarked on the rare route of going straight out of prep to the NCAA where he will suit up for the Boston University Terriers this winter.
While Patrick Harper was blowing up the scene in New England over the past two years, there was another Connecticut born star on the rise: Trevor Zegras. Now, as Harper heads to Comm. Ave in Boston to wear the Scarlett and White; Trevor is heading to his alma mater at Avon Old Farms to embark on the next stop in his hockey journey. Trevor took it another step forward yesterday when he committed to Boston University. While their games aren’t exactly similar, (Zegras is more explosive and plays a more aggressive, goal scoring style where Harper is a composed, cerebral playmaker); the two have high end skills and hockey sense and come from the same state with the same route, that’s enough for the old timers in the stands to say, “he reminds me of Patrick Harper.”
Starting at the age of 2, Trevor grew up playing at a local rink near his home in Bedford, NY for a program called Rising Stars. While his parents would take him to and from the rink to work on his skills, what drew him to the game wasn’t just the ice, the pucks or scoring goals.
“What drew me to hockey was my passion for the game and being part of a team with 15 other guys that become family,” said Zegras.
He went up through the local hockey ranks and eventually landed a spot on the Bantam Minor Mid Fairfield team. Trevor admits he was skilled, but not a top player at that time. It wasn’t until he started getting more coaching and personalized training that he was able to take his game to the next level. As a Bantam Major, Trevor had become one of the most well-known forwards in the country on a nationally-ranked Mid Fairfield squad.
“Playing for Mid-Fairfield was the best time of my life. Going to the rink and practicing with my teammates always put a smile on my face.”
Trevor went to Nationals in Fairbanks, Alaska in April and was one of the top players in the tournament. He finished the week with 2 goals and 2 assists in 3 games. After a season like that, a player of his caliber has a lot of options. He eventually decided he wanted to attend New England Prep School.
“I chose the prep route for several reasons. I wanted to go to a great school, play against older competition and be on the ice 5-6 days a week.”
He narrowed his choice down to three power house programs in Connecticut: Westminster, Salisbury and Avon.
“What it really came down to was where I felt most comfortable and that was Avon. They have an amazing staff in Leon Hayward and John Gardner that will help me develop as a player and as a person.”
There are big shoes to fill on a team that graduates Patrick Harper (BU), Jamie Armstrong (Northeastern), Adam Karashik (UConn) and loses Ben Mirageas (Providence) to the USHL. However, our scouts would say while the shoes are big, they are just his size.
Zegras also attended the Liberty Bell Games in Red Bank, NJ earlier this summer and was our top rated player there despite being one of the youngest to attend. However, the college recruiting process had already started a few months prior. He was getting offers from most of the top programs in the country and visited several Hockey East schools as well as some programs in the Midwest. He narrowed it down to his final four of Michigan, Northeastern, Boston University and Boston College.
In mid-July Trevor made the trek to Buffalo to compete at the Select 15 National Development camp where he would be paired with other top 01’s from across the country. It was the first time he could see where he stood on a national level.
“National Development Camp was a great experience and it opened a lot of doors for me as a player. Playing against the best of the best in the US was nerve-raking, but once I get into the flow of the game, I realized it was just hockey.”
Zegras was a top performer earning an “A” grade from the Neutral Zone scouts on hand. He showed his speed, agility, puck skill, creativity and elite hockey IQ. He’s also not shy about picking corners and demoralizing opposing goaltenders. After the camp he returned home to Connecticut to figure out his college future. For the past few months he had been getting rapid attention and offers.
“It was the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. Having to choose one of all those great school was a challenge. Not only was it my choice but one I made with my family.”
After much thought, consideration and discussions around the dinner table with his family he decided yesterday to commit to Boston University. Although the rink, the school, the facilities and the storied hockey tradition were all played a role, the differentiating factor was the coaching staff.
“What did it for me was how much the coaches cared. I really felt like I could trust them. From the academic side to the hockey side, they would be there the whole way and that was huge for me as a student athlete.”
Asked to describe his game for the BU fans that haven’t seen him yet, “I would say I’m a skilled forward with good hands and great IQ. I love hunting down the puck on the forecheck and putting pressure on opposing defenseman.”
So what’s next for Zegras? Although the NTDP looms as the next logical step, and most 2001’s will make that their primary goal this season, he is keeping his focus on Avon.
“My goal is to have a great season at Avon and try to compete for a New England Prep Championship. I think it’s important to enjoy where you’re at, not to rush and be worried about what’s next.”
Zegras is the first forward to commit in the class of 2020 and propels the Terriers to a top recruiting class ranking.
Photo Credit: Dan Hickling/Hickling Images