The Anaheim Ducks did not have a first-round selection in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, as that was the price they paid to acquire then-Dallas Stars winger Patrick Eaves, who the Ducks signed to a three-year extension on Friday.
They did, however, land two promising players in the second round amidst a draft that saw them add five prospects in all to the pipeline.
Round 2 Draft Picks
Maxime Comtois, LW, Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL)
The Ducks’ first selection was 50th overall. With that pick, they selected left winger Maxime Comtois from the Victoriaville Tigres of the QMJHL. Comtois represented an excellent value pick for Anaheim, as several outlets—including The Hockey Writers—saw him as a potential first-rounder.
Comtois, though he primarily plays left wing, is nevertheless a versatile forward who plays with a competitive edge while also possessing an above-average wrist shot and a strong understanding of the game that helps him anticipate plays and make good decisions. In his rookie year with Victoriaville, he was essentially a point-per-game player, notching 26 goals and 34 assists in 62 games, plus another goal and five assists in six postseason contests.
Perhaps part of the reason why he slipped to No. 50 where the Ducks could grab him had to do with his relatively underwhelming 2016-17 campaign. While he still tallied 51 points (22 goals and 29 assists) in 64 games, it was not the clear step forward that scouts and NHL clubs would have undoubtedly wanted to see.
Nevertheless, one season of mild struggles should not be a huge cause for concern, especially given Comtois’s strong work ethic. If he can continue to round out his offensive game and improve his skating, then the Ducks could have a very solid NHL player on their hands. At 18 years old, Comtois is already well-developed from a physical standpoint (6-foot-1, 207 pounds per NHL.com) and uses that to his advantage in delivering hard hits and winning net-front battles. In that regard, he will fit the Ducks’ style to a T.
Comtois was a great selection for the Ducks at 50th overall. Considering the team didn’t have a first-round selection, it has to be exciting for them that they could ultimately get a first-round type of return on their investment in Comtois.
Antoine Morand, C, Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL)
Ten picks after Comtois, the Ducks went with another QMJHL player in center Antoine Morand of the Acadie-Bathurst Titan. Also like Comtois, Morand was another excellent value pick for the Ducks right towards the end of the second round, considering that The Hockey Writers projected him to be taken early in that round.
The connections between Comtois and Morand don’t end there. The two Quebec-born players are best friends and now have the opportunity to play together professionally.
— Maxime Comtois (@comtois20) June 24, 2017
Morand, like Comtois, was thrilled not only to be drafted but with his good friend.
“It’s unbelievable,” Morand said to Kule Shohara of the Ducks’ official team website. “It’s a day I’ve dreamt of for a long time. To get drafted with my buddy, Maxime, on the same team, it’s incredible. We’ve been together since we were young. We’ve been through a lot together. We support each other. It’s going to be awesome. I’m excited to get things started with him. I couldn’t have asked for a better day.”
Morand, at 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, does not have Comtois’s size. He does, however, have excellent speed and offensive abilities. He is a playmaking center, as evidenced by his 28 goals and 46 assists in 74 games for Acadie-Bathurst in 2016-17. The year prior, he tallied 50 points (14 goals and 36 assists), so he not only improved his points-per-game mark, but also began to show more goal-scoring ability.
Since Morand, who shoots left-handed, is somewhat undersized, he will need to continue to work on maintaining puck possession. Even so, his natural playmaking abilities and speed give him top-six forward potential—again, pretty good for a late second-rounder.
Later Draft Picks
In the third round with the 91st overall pick, the Ducks selected American center Jack Badini. Badini, 19, is a goal scorer, having tallied 28 goals and 14 assists in 59 games for the Chicago Steel of the USHL this past season. He will be attending Harvard University beginning in the fall. His strengths are a strong shot and making it difficult for others to knock him off the puck. His development at Harvard and potentially in international competition for Team USA in the World Junior Championships will be interesting for the Ducks and their fans to watch unfold.
The fourth round saw the Ducks take Canadian right winger Kyle Olson with the 122nd overall selection. At 5-foot-10 and 161 pounds, Olson could stand to add some muscle mass. That being said, Olson is unafraid to engage physically and has strong hockey sense. He has some offensive ability as well, having scored 20 goals and 37 assists in 72 contests for the Tri-City Americans of the WHL in 2016-17. The 18-year-old has the tools to be a solid depth forward at the NHL level if he can add a bit more muscle to his frame.
The Ducks’ final selection was in the fifth round, 153rd overall. With that pick, the Ducks took a goaltender in Olle Eriksson Ek. The brother of the Minnesota Wild’s Joel Eriksson Ek, Olle, an 18-year-old Swede, is coming off a solid year with Farjestad of the Swedish J20 SuperElit league. He posted a stingy goals-against average of 2.38 and a save percentage of .920.
At 6-foot-2 and 178 pounds, Eriksson Ek brings some size and should grow more into that frame. According to the Draft Analyst, Eriksson Ek “has a pretty high panic threshold and has very good post-save recovery thanks to his lower-body strength that allows him to vault back into his set. He rarely ventures outside the crease to challenge shooters, but he is active on dump-ins, breaks up centering feeds and is comfortable using the poke check on breakaways or shootout attempts.”
With John Gibson manning the crease in Anaheim for the foreseeable future, Eriksson Ek might not be playing for the Ducks anytime soon, but he helps the organization as a whole replenish some depth at the position.
The Ducks made the most of their five draft selections, particularly with Comtois and Morand in the second round. These players will likely not directly impact the Ducks immediately, but it might not be long before they do.