NHL Rumors: Canadiens Interest in Zegras Could Hinge On This One Thing

We've been hearing the rumours all the way back to before the trade deadline: the Montréal Canadiens have some interest in Anaheim Ducks' uber-skilled forward Trevor Zegras. 

According to Stu Cowan of the Montreal Gazette, whether the Habs do ultimately pursue Zegras on the trade market this summer could depend on what happens in Czechia over the next couple of weeks at the 2024 IIHF Men’s World Championship.

Zegras, of course, is teamed up there (at times) on a line with his best friend Cole Caufield with Team USA, and Cowan figures that Habs GM Kent Hughes will be "keeping a close eye on how Caufield and Zegras perform together at the tournament" as a potential trigger point to trying to work out a deal to unite them in the NHL once and for all.

The two were a dynamic duo with the National Team Development Program in the past, though the results of this experiment have been mixed over the years. 

The pair have played together and were dominant in their U-18 years, then won a gold medal for the American team at the 2021 World Junior Hockey Championship, a tournament in which Zegras was the MVP. It should be noted that the two were split up, however, at that event, as Caufield was dropped to the 4th line and wasn't a big contributor to that team. 

The 23-year-olds were both first-rounders in the 2019 NHL Draft, Zegras going ninth overall to the Anaheim Ducks, and Caufield 15th to Montreal. They spend their offseasons entertaining us all with summer content, but would working together in Montreal produce the same kind of entertainment on the ice? 

They've got a chance to impress Hughes over the course of the Worlds this month.

Zegras spent most of the 2023-24 season injured and not extremely productive after back-to-back 23-goal seasons. Caufield had his best season as a pro with the Canadiens this year, with a career-high 28 goals and 65 points and 82 games. 

Photo: © Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports