IRVINE — Trevor Zegras was at his smiling, self-deprecating best when talking about lessons learned after the hit he took from the Arizona Coyotes’ Jan Jenik on Sept. 28 at Honda Center.
“It’s probably the last time I’ll come through the neutral zone thinking nobody’s going to hit me,” Zegras said on Friday.
Zegras left the game after that hard hit in the second period and did not return. Nine days and several MRIs later, Zegras was back on the ice for his first full practice with teammates, and with no limitations, a reassuring sign for the talented Ducks center and the organization.
Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said Zegras would be able to play on Saturday against the Kings at Crypto.com Arena, in what will be the final preseason game for both teams.
There will be a checklist for Eakins and his staff in that last game, starting with the health of Zegras. The Ducks’ regular-season opener is Wednesday night against the Seattle Kraken.
“We’re still looking at line combinations,” Eakins said. “Zegras made it through practice today, so we’re hoping he can get through a full game. We’re keeping a close eye on him. (Pavol) Regenda had a very good game (Tuesday), a real bounce-back game that we were impressed with. So we’re going to have another look at him as well.
“Guys are still fighting for ice time. (Max) Jones and (Derek) Grant have shown they’ve got some real chemistry, so we’ll probably stick with that. But when you go down that left wing, (Jones) and if you want to put Regenda in that category … those two guys have played well. The other guys have just played OK.”
So far, so good with Zegras.
“Been skating for a couple of days now,” he said. “Good to get back on the ice with the boys. So I’m pumped.”
Zegras said he knew it was going to be a couple of days before he started feeling 100 percent.
“Better to be cautious than mess something up,” he said. Music helped him get through the tiresome and often noisy medical imaging process. “Kayne (West),” Zegras reported.
Zegras called the hit by Jenik, “a good hit,” adding: “That’s what that guy needs to do to make the team – he’s going to do it. It’s all good.
“The initial hit itself was pretty hard. I lost my breath for a couple of seconds. That’s kind of why I stayed down but honestly, I thought it was my ribs and it ended up being nothing.
“I’d love to play (Saturday). I’d play every game if I could. It would be nice to get in one more game before the season.”
Defenseman Noah Warren was watching practice at Great Ice Park with some members of the hockey operations staff on Friday, following a medical procedure earlier in the week. This was the first Ducks’ training camp for Warren, who was taken in the second round (No. 42) in the NHL draft in July.
“He had something done on his foot,” Eakins said. “That’s been on the books for a while. We knew coming into camp he was going to get it done. It’s all looked after now and he’ll have a few weeks of recovery and he’ll be right back at it.”