Sensational Summer Prospect Happenings
For a team with so much success in recent seasons, the Ducks actually have quite the collection of young players on their roster and solid prospects developing in lower levels of the minors. Even with the departures of several good young players such as Kyle Palmieri, Emerson Etem, and William Karlsson, the team looks set for the future at almost every position.
- John Gibson’s extension: On September 21st, the Ducks signed young netminder John Gibson to a three year, $6.9 million contract that gives him a cap hit of $2.3 million per season through 2019. The move signals the Ducks’ long-term commitment to Gibson and could mean one of Frederik Andersen or Anton Khudobin could be on his way out of town.
- Kyle Palmieri and Emerson Etem traded: Once looked at as key pieces to the future of Anaheim’s forward corps, the Ducks traded the two young forwards to the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers, respectively. In return, they got a range of draft picks and speedy winger Carl Hagelin.
- The Kevin Bieksa acquisition: Preparing for the free agency departures of several veteran defenseman, the Ducks traded a second-round pick next year for veteran defenseman Kevin Bieksa. The longtime Vancouver Canuck should provide stability and leadership to a young Ducks defensive unit.
- 2015 NHL Draft: The Ducks once again dipped into the Scandinavian defenseman pool in the first round, as they added Swedish defender Jacob Larsson to a defensive group that already includes Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen. They also added a few high-potential forwards in later rounds, snagging Julius Nattinen and Deven Sideroff, among others.
Editor’s Note: The Ducks really showed a tendency to reach for players they liked, as prospects such as Brent Gates (80th overall) and Deven Sideroff (84th) were taken well above where most had them pegged.
Big Bang Theory: E-Mac’s Impact Prospects
The top three players on the Ducks’ Prospect List have a strong chance of making the NHL and having a positive impact on the team when they do. Given that the league average is around five, the Ducks look to be slightly behind in terms of impact prospects. However, their NHL roster is loaded with young talent, so Anaheim should be a force to be reckoned with for years to come. In addition, there will likely some of the other prospects who make the NHL. However, they are either less likely to have an impact, less likely to make the NHL, or both.
Five impact players is around the average for the NHL. The team with the most impact prospects is Winnipeg with 9, followed by Arizona and Detroit with 8 apiece. Los Angeles trails with just 1.
21 and Under Players as of September 15, 2015 in the NHL
(to give one the big picture of young players in the organization)
2014-15 Team: Anaheim Ducks, NHL
D, L, 6’2″, 205, 78-7-17-24 (+25)
Ducks NHL Prospect Pool Power Ranking: 21st*
Editor’s Note: I may be a little bit high on the Ducks’ prospect pool, as I had them ranked the highest (16th) among my other colleagues on where the Anaheim prospect pool was in the NHL.
Anaheim Ducks Top 10 Prospects – Fall 2015
The Next Ones Summer Prospect List includes the top 10 prospects along with 5 honorable mentions and any other 2015 draft choices not previously listed.
2014-15 Team: Sault Ste. Marie, OHL
LW, L, 6’2″, 225, 48-29-33-62 (+1)
Nick Ritchie was taken with the first-round draft pick the Ducks received in the Bobby Ryan trade, and early on, it looks as if Anaheim has found a great replacement for Ryan’s physical and high-scoring style. Traded from the lowly Peterborough Petes to the powerhouse Greyhounds midseason, Ritchie showcased the tenacious and skilled game that made him one of the most highly touted junior prospects in Ontario, dominating opponents with his massive frame and great skating ability. Ritchie has all the tools to be a dominant power forward in the NHL, if he can consistently flash the top-10 talent that made him one of the Greyhound’s most valuable players throughout the season.
Editor’s Note: Through the rookie tournament and the preseason, Ritchie has looked very strong, suggesting he may be closer to ready for NHL duty than previously thought. A hat trick in a rookie tournament game has surely captured the attention of Anaheim’s brass.
2014-15 Team: Seattle, WHL
D, L, 6’2″, 182, 43-13-35-48 (+17)
Shea Theodore, despite putting up a very strong season in his draft, year flew under the radar a bit and was taken at the end of the first round by the Ducks. So far, so good, as Theodore has developed into a two-way force and one of the best defense prospects in the NHL. A smooth skater with great passing ability and a strong shot, Theodore has the look of a future power play quarterback in the NHL. While he could stand to gain some strength and develop his defensive ability, there is little doubt Theodore will be an impact player when he cracks the Ducks’ lineup on a consistent basis.
2014-15 Team: Frolunda, SWE 1 (SHL)
D, L, 6’2″, 190, 20-1-2-3 (+4)
The Ducks’ most recent first round pick, Larsson is another swift skating defender with good puck skills and some outstanding questions about his defense. The youngest player on Frolunda’s senior team last season, Larsson impressed scouts with his passing ability and shot, but his skating ability is what sets him apart on both ends of the ice. Already standing a solid 6’2″ and 190 pounds, Larsson could still stand to add strength to his frame, which could make him even more of a physical force, which is one of the biggest knocks against him at this stage of his development.
2014-15: Norfolk, AHL
D, R, 6’0″, 172, 14-1-9-10 (+10)
Despite the presence of other talented young defense prospects like Shea Theodore and Jacob Larsson, Montour is probably the most exciting offensive defenseman prospect in the Ducks’ system. That doesn’t take away from the achievements of World Junior gold medalist Theodore; it simply speaks to the high-octane talent Montour possesses. Following a banner 2013-2014 season that saw Montour post one of the most productive seasons the USHL had ever seen, he put up nearly a point per game at three different levels in 2014-2015 and looks to be nearly NHL-ready. With some added strength, Montour could be an effective puck-moving defender for the Ducks.
— College Hockey Inc. (@collegehockey) May 13, 2014
2014-15 Team: Norfolk, AHL
D, R, 6’3″, 218, 36-3-9-12 (-6)
Josh Manson, a sixth round pick of the Ducks in 2011, has far outperformed his low draft position to this point, as he has become a focal point of the Norfolk defense in the AHL and is knocking on the door to the NHL. A big rearguard who is a good skater but whose game revolves around toughness and shutdown defense, Manson had a short stint with Anaheim last season when injuries struck the blueline. He performed well, showcasing his shutdown ability while providing a physical presence that some of the small, puck-moving defenders on the Ducks lack. While he won’t wow anyone, Josh Manson has a chance to be a solid NHL defenseman for a long time.
Drafted: 2011-21st (trade with OTT)
2014-15 Team: Norfolk, AHL
RW, R, 6’2″, 205, 27-7-9-16 (-5)
Another player the Ducks were able to acquire from Ottawa in the Bobby Ryan trade, Noesen has experienced an uneven path to the NHL, to say the least. After playing four strong seasons with the Plymouth Whalers in the OHL, Noesen’s professional debut with the Norfolk Admirals was unceremoniously cut short due to a devastating knee injury. However, he rebounded to play a strong season with the Admirals last year and even played his NHL debut with the Ducks. With a big frame and good scoring ability, Noesen could give the Ducks another budding young power forward as soon as next season.
2014-15 Team: Norfolk, AHL
LW, L, 6’2″, 201, 51-9-17-26 (-10)
Nic Kerdiles was originally thought of as a first-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, but due to injuries, fell to the Ducks in the second. A powerful and strong skater with a good shot, Kerdiles has experienced scoring success at every level until a rocky first professional season with the Norfolk Admirals in the AHL last season. Despite a tough pro debut, Kerdiles is still a budding young sniper with the chance to be a top-six goal scorer for the Ducks. To crack the NHL lineup, Kerdiles could use some improvement in his skating speed and a more consistent effort in the defensive end.
2014-15 Team: JYP, FIN 2 (Mestis)
C, L, 6’2″, 191, 39-11-18-29 (+9)
Here is what TSN’s Director of Amateur Scouting, Craig Button, had to say about Nattinen – “Nattinen is a very versatile centre who can contribute in a variety of ways. He’s smart and a good playmaker but has a good shot and will use it and threaten with it… is a very effective penalty killer.” While Nattinen has the frame and all the tools necessary to be a dangerous top-six centre for the Ducks, he could still stand to gain a bit of strength and to improve his skating ability, as well as consistently put all his skills on display.
2014-15 Team: Norfolk, AHL
RW, R, 5’11″, 200, 58-15-25-40 (+2)
Max Friberg first burst into the national spotlight with an unbelievable performance in the 2012 World Junior tournament, potting 9 goals and 11 points in just 6 games. While his scoring ceiling in the NHL might not be at the stratospheric levels he displayed in Calgary in 2012, he is still a talented player whose tenacity and consistent two-way play makes him a safer prospect to make an NHL impact that several other players ahead of him on this list. This quote, from Hockey’s Future, describes Friberg’s game and tenacity – “He projects as a top-six forward with excellent ability to change speeds, relentlessness on the fore-check, sufficient strength and a very well-rounded game.” While he might never become a prolific scorer in the NHL, his versatile game could allow him to have a long and successful NHL career.
2014-15 Team: Skelleftea, SWE 1 (SHL)
RW, R, 6’1″, 182, 14-1-4-5 (+5)
At one point during the Quebec Remparts’ 2012-2013 season, all three of their star wingers were projected to be selected in the first round, including Swedish winger Nick Sorensen. Due to several other players having great seasons, however, Sorensen fell into Anaheim’s laps in the middle of the second round. In Sorensen’s pre-draft prospect profile, THW’s Shawn Reznik wrote, “What sets Sörensen apart is his quickness, agility, and foot speed. He can blow past defenders easily and use his nifty stick skills to creating scoring chances. He certainly has the scoring touch, but at times he gets out of position… is great on both sides of the puck and is keen defensively.” Despite his injury woes in recent seasons, Sorensen still has the talent to be an impact player for the Ducks if he can continue to gain strength and improve the consistency of his game.
Five Honorable Mentions
Just outside the top 10, you will find in alphabetical order:
HM – Gates, Brent – (2015-80th) – ‘14-15 – Green Bay, USHL – C, L, 6’2″, 196, 33-10-17-27 (-9)
HM – Megna, Jaycob – (2012-210th) – ‘14-15 – Norfolk, AHL – D, L, 6’5″, 218, 32-1-4-5 (-1)
HM – Pettersson, Marcus – (2014-38th) – ‘14-15 – Skelleftea, SWE Jr (SuperElit) – D, L, 6’4″, 166, 20-2-8-10 (-4)
HM – Roy, Kevin – (2012-97th) – ‘14-15 – Northeastern University, Hockey East – W/C, L, 5’9″, 174, 35-19-25-44 (+12)
HM – Sgarbossa, Michael – (Undrafted – Trade with COL) – ‘14-15 – Norfolk, AHL – C, L, 5’11”, 181, 60-10-28-38 (-21)
Other 2015 Draft Choices Not Listed Above
We have also included the other 2015 draft choices not previously listed above:
2015-84th – Sideroff, Deven – ‘14-15 – Kamloops, WHL, RW, R, 5’11”, 171, 64-17-25-42 (+18)
2015-148th – Terry, Troy – ‘14-15 – USA U18 NTDP, USHL, C/W, R, 5’10”, 160, 66-19-25-44 (+2)
2015-178th – Ruggiero, Steven – ‘14-15 –USA U18 NTDP, USHL, D, R, 6’3″, 200, 66-1-14-15
2015-179th – Metcalf, Garrett – ‘14-15 – Madison, USHL, G, L, 6’2″, 181, 33-3.26-.911
Joseph Aleong is an At-Large writer for THW from Toronto, Ontario. He is a graduate of Brock University in St. Catharines, ON. Follow him on Twitter @josephaleong11