Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf on verge of 1,000-point milestone

IRVINE — Trevor Zegras laughed, the sort of response young people often make when they can’t begin to fathom something so far beyond their comprehension. Mason McTavish didn’t laugh, but he did smile and shake his head, almost as if he had difficulty processing the information.

Two of the youngest Ducks each said they had trouble imagining the milestone their eldest teammate was on the verge of reaching. Ryan Getzlaf, the Ducks’ longtime captain, is one point shy of 1,000 for his career, having already broken the franchise scoring record earlier this season.

“It’s a lot of points. It’s a lot of points,” said Zegras, a 20-year-old rookie center, repeating himself for emphasis after Getzlaf notched his 998th and 999th points in the Ducks’ victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday. Said McTavish, an 18-year-old rookie right wing: “It’s pretty crazy.”

Zegras has 21 points in 38 career games in his budding NHL career.

McTavish has three points in seven games so far.

If he does record a goal or an assist in Tuesday’s game against the Washington Capitals, then Getzlaf, 36, will reach the milestone in front of Ducks royalty. Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne are scheduled to be at Honda Center to honor another franchise icon: Recently-retired team executive David McNab.

Getzlaf has sizzled recently, recording six assists in the past three games, including two during the Ducks’ 5-1 win on Sunday. He almost had a third assist against the Canucks, which would have been his 1,000th point, but Troy Terry missed an empty net in the final moments of the game.

Overall, Getzlaf is the NHL’s 11th-leading scorer with 17 points going into Monday’s games around the league, matching his total for all of last season in 32 fewer games. He is third in assists with 16, one behind co-leaders Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers.

Getzlaf’s ice time has increased to an average of 19:44, up from his career average of 19:31.

If the Ducks’ plan was to reduce Getzlaf’s role and his ice time in his 17th season, and there was plenty of discussion about doing so, then he’s gone and wrecked it. Getzlaf has secured the top-line center spot by playing some of his best and most inspired hockey in several seasons.

“He’s got a ton of good hockey left in him,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. “He’s playing very well. I keep saying to him, ‘Hey, at your age, your minutes are supposed to go away from your age, not closer to it.’ In the end, that’s his fault. It’s his fault that his minutes are getting closer to his age because he’s playing that well.”

Getzlaf’s union with wingers Terry and Adam Henrique hasn’t made anyone with a long enough memory forget the magic Kariya and Selanne created with center Steve Rucchin back in the day, but they have done some heavy lifting in leading the Ducks to a seven-game winning streak.

Terry has a team-leading 11 goals and 20 points, all during a 14-game scoring streak that’s tied with Getzlaf for the fourth-longest in franchise history, and Henrique has six goals and 13 points. Terry has matched his career high for points he set last season in 48 games.

Getzlaf has seemed rejuvenated after signing a one-season contract worth $4.5 million. He said he returned to the Ducks in order to rid himself of the memory of last season, when the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc with everything he held dear about the game he loved.

In fact, he’s looked and played like he’s 26 rather than 36, and he’s laid waste to any notions that it was a mistake to re-sign him.

“I think as you get on in your career you start to really understand that, ‘Hey, today is a special day and I’m really going to grasp it, and I’m going to enjoy it, and I’m going to give it my best,’” Eakins said. “Not that he wasn’t doing that before, but I think it ups the ante as you move on in your career.”