With the NHL season still on hold and the month of May flying by, it’s time to look ahead to the draft and who the Anaheim Ducks might select. At the time the NHL paused the season, the Ducks had the fifth-best odds for a top-three pick, or to earn the first-overall pick.
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There are some variables that the NHL is still debating that include lottery rule changes. If the current rules remain and the Ducks moved into the top three, they would have an excellent selection of players from which to choose. If the Ducks remain at No. 5 or fall back, they also have a chance to select a player that would fill a position of need.
One of those players is OHL defenseman Jamie Drysdale.
Draft Lottery Changes Coming?
The NHL has been floating scenarios that include holding the draft before the 2019-20 season resumes as well as rule changes to the lottery. One rule change may benefit the Ducks. If the proposed changes are instituted, the Ducks would be eligible for either the first, fifth or sixth pick. If the old rules and odds remain, the Ducks could jump into the top-three picks or even fall back.
Jamie Drysdale Could Be A Duck
I briefly touched on Drysdale in an early 2020 draft article. Though Alexis Lafreniere will most certainly go first overall, the following four picks are harder to discern, and according to various scouts and mock drafts, Drysdale could go anywhere from third to sixth.
The Ducks still need a right-shot defenseman, and the chance to select one who could be a franchise cornerstone would be too good to pass up, not to mention the top of the 2020 draft is pretty thin at that specific position. The next highest-ranked defender is Jake Sanderson, who is a left shot and is ranked in the 10 to 15 range in the draft pool by experts.
It would be hard to justify general manager Bob Murray reaching as many as 10 spots back to pick a defender, especially with very talented forwards available. Don’t forget, the Ducks still had significant scoring issues this season.
Bob McKenzie raves about Drysdale’s vast skillset and top-pair potential. He and many other draft experts love Drysdale’s skating speed and agility on top of his offensive instincts, defensive recovery, leadership ability, smart stick and power-play quarterback potential.
He would fit in perfectly one day as the Ducks No. 1 right-shot defenseman to complement Hampus Lindholm.
As Anaheim’s roster continues to turn over and players like Corey Perry, Andrew Cogliano, and one day soon, Ryan Getzlaf and maybe Cam Fowler are shed, the Ducks will need to replace those players with the leadership ability Drysdale possesses.
Also, Drysdale would be a key asset for head coach Dallas Eakins, assuming he’s still the Ducks’ coach when he suits up in the NHL.
Eakins’ emphasis on possession and creativity would help maximize Drysdale’s skillset while the defender’s ability to recover from mistakes quickly and get back into position might help alleviate some of the issues that come with Eakins’ philosophy.
Draft expert Steve Kournianos points out one aspect of the defenseman’s game that should make Eakins and Ducks fans salivate.
Consider Drysdale one of the few draft-eligible puck rushers who not only consistently displays structure as he forays across center ice, but also is one to produce far more, clean zone entries than needless dump-ins or turnovers.
Clean zone entries are essential to Eakins’ style of play in generating offense, and although Lindholm and Fowler do it well, no defenseman on Anaheim’s roster specializes in it.
Power Play Quarterback
Kournianos also highlights Drysdale’s versatile power play skill set,
He whips accurate wristers from as far back as his own line, but he also walks the blue stripe with pump fakes before unloading a heavy slapper. One thing to keep an eye on is Drysdale’s trickery with point shots — not every attempt is intended to score, so forwards near the goal must be prepared for carom, shots, or floats that are perfect for cross-body tip-ins.
The Ducks are badly in need of a power-play quarterback who’s a threat to shoot from the point or make a nifty pass to boost a sub-par power play that has struggled for multiple seasons.
If the Ducks draft Drysdale, imagine the combined creativity and power play potency that he and Trevor Zegras may someday sport for the Ducks. It would be a dream come true.
If the Ducks have demonstrated anything over the past two seasons, it’s that one player or coach can’t fix their struggles. They are, however, starting to build a core of young players that might one day lift the Stanley Cup on Honda Center ice once again, most notably Zegras. If they add Drysdale to the equation, that might happen much sooner than it seems.
Anthony Ciardelli grew up in Vermont and New Hampshire but now lives in Los Angeles. Though he was raised a Bruins fan, he quickly came to enjoy the hockey culture in Southern California and the rivalry between the Kings and Ducks. He covered USC Athletics while pursuing his journalism masters there. He also enjoys doing play-by-play for USC Trojan Hockey.