Anaheim Ducks’ 2020 Mock Draft Recap

Recently, team writers from across The Hockey Writers’ network took place in a mock draft. Originally we planned on covering the first two rounds, but we couldn’t contain ourselves and a full seven-round mock draft was born. This was a lot of fun for everyone involved and was a great exercise to see how writers would address their team’s needs.

Of course, I selected for the Anaheim Ducks. Fellow staff writer Anthony Ciardelli and I collaborated on the Ducks first two selections in Round 1. From there the Ducks had one pick in each of the remaining rounds except for round seven. Each pick has a detailed summary of the player as well as a brief explanation as to why we made the selection.

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Unfortunately, the NHL released the draft lottery details shortly after we completed this exercise, so the results and draft order when the actual draft takes place may be different. For now, enjoy our thoughts and analysis of the Anaheim Ducks selections for The Hockey Writers Mock Draft!

First Round – 5th Overall

Alexander Holtz – RW

  • Age: 18
  • Height: 6-foot-0
  • Weight: 183 pounds

2019-20 Stats:

  • Djurgårdens IF J20 (SuperElit): 3 GP – 7 G – 2 A – 9 PTS
  • Djurgårdens IF (SHL): 35 GP – 9 G – 7 A – 16 PTS

There is no question the Anaheim Ducks’ have a lot of needs when it comes to jump-starting their rebuild. There is a gaping hole on the right side of the defense, but the Senators scooped up Drysdale so scratch that until later. However, with some exceptionally talented forwards left on the board, it’s time to address another need: scoring. The Ducks’ finished 29th in goals per game this season and what better way to address that than by picking up arguably the best shooter in the entire draft.

Alexander Holtz Djurgarden
Alexander Holtz, Djurgarden (Photo by ERIK SIMANDER/TT NEWS AGENCY/AFP via Getty Images)

It was a tough decision between Alexander Holtz and Lucas Raymond, and personally I think there isn’t much of a difference between the two when it comes to the best player available. So, we went with the sniper. Holtz fits the mold of what general manager Bob Murray is looking for. At the Ducks Hot Stove event in March, he said “We’ll be looking for shooters in the draft. Some of our guys just can’t shoot one-timers, boggles my mind”. It seems like a good fit to me. Also, how could we pass up a Trevor Zegras/Holtz combo?

Corey Pronman had this to say about Holtz’ game in his recent draft rankings for The Athletic:

Holtz got a regular shift and power play time in the SHL this past season for Djurgarden, as one of the most productive U18 players that league has seen. Holtz has been on the prospect radar a long time. He has a lot of exciting dimensions to his game, but his goal-scoring ability stands out. He has a truly elite shot. He can pick corners from any spot in the offensive zone, with a very hard and accurate wrist shot. His hands are elite, which allows him to beat defenders clean with his 1-on-1 moves and pull off the occasional highlight-reel play. While he is known for his goal-scoring, Holtz is also a very good passer. He won’t be a top playmaker in the NHL, but he can find the seams and has the high offensive IQ to let plays develop and find his teammates.

(from ‘Pronman’s 2020 NHL Draft Board: Top 122 prospects’, The AthleticNHL – 27/05/17)

Josh Bell’s Take

Let’s let that last line sink in for a minute. Your future is Zegras at centre, arguably the best playmaking prospect in the NHL right now, and Holtz on the wing, arguably the best shooter in this draft class. Would this be the second coming of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry? That’s exciting. I wouldn’t say this is a best player available pick, but it addresses a huge need for the Ducks and he’s one of the best players left on the board.

First Round – 31st Overall

Shakir Mukhamadullin – LD

  • Age: 18
  • Height: 6-foot-4
  • Weight: 179 pounds

2019-20 Stats:

  • Tolpar Ufa (MHL): 13 GP – 2 G – 8 A – 10 PTS
  • Salavat Yulaev Ufa (KHL): 27 GP – 0 G – 1 A – 1 PTS

Defense is still a significant position of need for the Anaheim Ducks. We had settled on Swede William Wallinder before the Avalanche took him at No. 29. We decided to go with a defender that had a similar style of play and body type but was a bit more of a risk. According to scouts, Shakir Mukhamadullin has a strong all-around game. He’s a good skater with great size and physicality. He’s got a rocket shot from the point which the Ducks need. He has poise with the puck and makes smart passes out of his zone. The Draft Analyst Steve Kournianos described him as a “crease clearer,” which is something the Ducks need badly.

Mukhamadullin is a crease clearer and one-on-one eraser who has spent most of his draft year with Ufa of the KHL — and holding his own against premier competition. You can make a strong argument that he’s the most polished of any draft-eligible defenseman with his versatility in all situations helping to boost his value.

Steve Kournianos – The Draft Analyst

When COVID-19 paused the 2019-20 season, the Ducks ranked No. 28 in high-danger chances against, one spot better than they finished last season. Mukhamadullin has the potential to finally keep opposing forwards from sitting directly on top of John Gibson and steer high-danger chances away from goal. Though Mukhamadullin isn’t particularly offensive-minded right now, he’s got the tools to develop a good offensive game while his strong in-zone play will be important for the Ducks. He also has a bomb of shot which he utilized to win gold for Russia at the World Junior A Challenge.

Josh Bell’s Take

Ah, Mukhamadullin. I’ve talked about how he’s not my favourite prospect, but I know that some are fairly high on him. His potential comes largely in the back end right now, but he did win the gold medal for Team Russia at the World Junior A Challenge with a goal in double overtime. There are mixed feelings toward him. Some cite the fact that he’s playing in the KHL already, is a versatile defender and can read the play well, while others say that he struggles in his own end and with the puck. The Ducks are drafting for upside, of course, but we’ll see what happens with Mukhamadullin.

Second Round – 36th Overall

Tyson Foerster – RW

  • Age: 18
  • Height: 6-foot-1
  • Weight: 194 pounds

2019-20 Stats:

  • Barrie Colts (OHL): 62 GP – 36 G – 44 A – 80 PTS

Well we took arguably the best shooter in the class when we selected Alexander Holtz at fifth overall. Why not go back to the well and grab another? Tyson Foerster has an absolute rocket of a shot and it’s hard to ignore his progression from his rookie season. He went from 10 goals and 23 points in 64 games last year to 36 goals and 80 points in 62 games played this season.

Tyson Foerster, OHL, Barrie Colts
Tyson Foerster (Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images)

If you want a guy who excels in the Ovechkin spot on the power play than Foerster is your man. He feasted on OHL competition this season while on the man advantage. He shot up draft rankings this season due to his impressive production and also winning the MVP of the CHL Top Prospect’s Game. As we mentioned with the Holtz selection, Bob Murray is looking for pure shooters, so why not double down with two of the best in the class.

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I was surprised to see Foerster available at this spot. There are some scouts out there who absolutely love him and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him slip into the Top 25.

Everyone says that he can’t skate well enough but he gets there. Everyone said he’d drop off after Suzuki left but he keeps scoring. Everyone said he was a borderline selection for the Top Prospects game so he went and got the MVP. Kid is a player.

Mark Seidel – OHLProspects Midseason Poll

Josh Bell’s Take

The Ducks are looking for goal scoring in a big way, landing Holtz and Foerster in the first two rounds. While Holtz, Noel Gunler, and Jack Quinn are being touted as the top shooters, Foerster might be right there with them with one of the best releases in the draft. With a top-playmaking prospect Trevor Zegras having two absolute weapons to feed, the Ducks’ offence looks like it will be scoring in bunches in the near future.

Third Round – 67th Overall

Michael Benning – RD

  • Age: 18
  • Height: 5-foot-10
  • Weight: 174 pounds

2019-20 Stats:

  • Sherwood Park Crusaders (AJHL): 54 GP – 12 G – 63 A – 75 PTS

This was probably my favorite pick of the entire mock draft. I’m a huge fan of Benning’s game and he fills a glaring hole in the Duck’s depth chart. Something they haven’t had since they drafted Brandon Montour. An offensively gifted, power-play quarterback, right-handed defenseman. The jury is still out on Benning and currently, he’s ranked anywhere between 40th and 100th. A lot of that is likely due to the league he plays in, the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

Quality of competition always comes into discussion for players coming out of the AJHL. However, Benning has posted some pretty intriguing numbers over the last two seasons. With 61 points in 60 games in his rookie season, he won the league’s Rookie of the Year award. He followed that up with 75 points in 54 games played this past season.

Michael Benning Sherwood Park Crusaders
Michael Benning of the Sherwood Park Crusaders (Target Photography)

The key attribute to Benning’s game is his offensive ability. He’s a very smart puck-handler and gets the puck up ice quickly. His lateral movement and play-making ability allow him to efficiently quarterback the power play. He sees the ice extremely well and can hit forwards on the breakaway pass with consistency. Benning might not have elite straight-line speed but he has an excellent first step and uses his quickness to create separation early. His shot is an underrated weapon in his arsenal.

It may not be the quickest release or most accurate shot among his peers, but he has a hard slap shot that he can utilize on the power play and his wrist shot is good enough that he can be a threat on the rush. The comparison with Cale Makar is hard to ignore, and while he won’t likely reach the same heights he’s still got the ability to be a second pairing defenseman in the NHL.

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Defensively he gets by on his above average skating and a high hockey IQ. He rarely makes mistakes with the puck and anticipates the play well. He also isn’t afraid to engage in puck battles. Unfortunately, size becomes a bit of an issue at times being only 5-foot-10, so he’ll need to bulk up a bit to succeed at the next level.

Benning is committed to the University of Denver and the Ducks have been diving into the NCAA a lot over the past few drafts. This pick reminds me a lot of the Jackson LaCombe selection from the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. The production was impressive, but quality of competition was a concern for teams with LaCombe playing in high school. The Ducks had three picks in the first two rounds so they can afford to take on a bit of risk here in the third.

Fourth Round – 111th Overall

Oskar Magnusson – C/RW

  • Age: 18
  • Height: 5-foot-10
  • Weight: 165 pounds

2019-20 Stats:

  • Malmö Redhawks J20 (SuperElit): 38 GP – 22 G – 26 A – 48 PTS
  • Malmö Redhawks (SHL): 4 GP – 0 G – 0 A – 0 PTS

Every year there are a few players who fly under the radar. Whether it’s due to the league they play in or an underwhelming international showing there are several reasons why a player could go unnoticed. However, Magnusson is a unique case this year. He played in the SuperElit with highly touted prospects such as Zion Nybeck, Emil Andrae and Theodor Niederbach. He was one of the best under-18 players in the league and posted 22 goals and 26 assists for 48 points in 38 games played. He played well internationally despite being used in a lesser role. Magnusson seems to be the type of prospect who is loved by some scouts and passed on by others. I’ve seen him ranked as high as 42nd and as low as 105th.

He is an extremely versatile forward who can play center or wing. A threat on both the power play and penalty kill for Malmö, he’s energetic as they come. His commitment on the forecheck is paralleled by his ability to track back and close down plays. Jokke Nevalainen, Head of European scouting at DobberProspects, was able to provide a scouting report:

Magnusson’s size may be below average but his skill-set and all-around game is definitely above average. He’s a great skater with a good combination of speed and agility. He has great hands which allow him to make some fancy plays at times. His shot isn’t overly heavy but he’s very good at changing the angle and releasing it quickly. Despite being an offensive player, he’s also pretty good defensively. He was often used on the penalty kill and didn’t look out of place there either.

Jokke Nevalainen – DobberProspects

He makes for an intriguing option for the Ducks in the fourth round and has steal potential if he can figure everything out. A real test awaits him next year where he’ll likely spend most of his time in the SHL with Malmö.

Fifth Round – 129th Overall

Colby Ambrosio – C

  • Age: 17
  • Height: 5-foot-9
  • Weight: 165 pounds

2019-20 Stats:

  • Tri-City Storm (USHL): 48 GP – 26 G – 24 A – 50 PTS

I had to include one United States Hockey League selection in here with how frequently the Ducks have gone to that league over the last three drafts. In fact, seven of their last 19 picks have come out of the USHL. Ambrosio seems to have slid due to his size, 5-foot-9, and a lack of international play with Canada. His last international competition was the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in 2018.

When you get this late in the draft I always like to go with a player that I’ve watched a fair amount coupled with some scouting reports that have him ranked significantly higher. I’ve seen him ranked as high as the third round and as low as the sixth.

Ambrosio was Tri-City’s leading scorer with 26 goals and 50 points in 48 games played. He is one of the most skilled players in the entire USHL and has an extremely well-rounded offensive game. His speed is the hallmark of his game and he’s able to execute highly skilled plays at full speed. Ambrosio dominated on the power play thanks to a hard, accurate shot, a quick release and above-average playmaking. He tied for the league lead in power-play points with 24.

The Draft Analyst, Steve Kourianos was able to provide a detailed scouting report on Ambrosio. Here is what he had to say about his defensive ability:

Ambrosio is not just a big-play threat. He will support his defensemen below his own circles and dig in for board battles, plus hound and press opponents as they try to operate their cycle game. Another key component to his game is physical play. Ambrosio has a way of getting under opponents’ skin and is a target for big hits. But the 5-foot-9 forward can dish it out as well as he can take it, and there have been example of opponents lining him up in open ice, only for Ambrosio to be the one who remains standing.

Steve Kournianos – The Draft Analyst

Ambrosio had a great sophomore season in the USHL, and he is primed to have an impact with Boston College in 2020-21.

Sixth Round – 160th Overall

Ethan Edwards – LD

  • Age: 17
  • Height: 5-foot-10
  • Weight: 165 pounds

2019-20 Stats:

  • Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL): 50 GP – 9 G – 24 A – 33 PTS

Watching Michael Benning routinely this season there were two other players who stood out for me in the AJHL. One was fellow Sherwood Park Crusader Carter Savoie and the other was Spruce Grove Saints defenseman Ethan Edwards.

Edwards is a smaller offensive defenseman, listed at 5-foot-10, and posted 33 points in 50 games played. He’s an excellent skater and has a high hockey IQ. He was impressive in the viewings I had of him, but he also has the tendency to disappear at times. However, when he’s on he has the ability to execute highly skilled plays at top speed and find teammates with a hard, accurate pass.

The Ducks could use a few more offensive-minded defensemen in their system and Edwards fits in with Benning and LaCombe to bring some much-needed skill to a crop of mostly two-way prospects. Not all of them will pan out, but when you miss out on a sure-thing like Jamie Drysdale it doesn’t hurt to swings for the fences a couple of times.

Speedy undersized defender with excellent four way edging and high end puck skills and decision-making capabilities. Firmly carries pucks out with head up in transition, and will fight off the opposing teams stick checks along the way. Has a quick stick defensively. Will funnel pucks towards the net offensively and has a good wrist shot. Putting on weight and may add an inch or two. Developmental prospect with a high ceiling for success or failure.

Bill Placzek – Draft Site

Edwards will likely be back in the AJHL next season and is committed to the University of Michigan for 2021-22.

Recap: Alexander Holtz (5), Shakir Mukhamadullin (31), Tyson Foerster (36), Michael Benning (66), Oskar Magnusson (111), Colby Ambrosio (129), Ethan Edwards (160)

Ducks Improve on Weaknesses and Add Depth

Even though the Ducks were a difficult team to watch this season, there is a light at the end of the tunnel in the form of the 5th overall selection. There were two needs I was looking to address in this mock draft. One was a sniper which they added two of the best in the draft with Holtz and Foerster. The other was a right-hand shot offensive defenseman. They got that in AJHL phenom Michael Benning. In Shakir Mukhahadullin they get a player whose path to the NHL might come sooner rather than later as long as they avoid the “Russian” factor.

The remaining three picks in Magnusson, Ambrosio and Edwards carry some risk but could be a bargain in the long run. As much as I would love for the draft to pan out this way, we all know one team will pull something crazy on draft day and send everything spiraling out of control. For now, let me know what you think of the selections and who you hope the Ducks draft in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.