The Anaheim Ducks kick off training camp this morning at Great Park Ice in Irvine, California. It’s open to the public and runs all the way until Sunday with an intrasquad scrimmage taking place on Saturday, along with other various fan-related events as well. There are a number of storylines and certainly a handful of players to keep an eye on as training camp unfolds.
The Ducks’ training camp roster is comprised of 64 players: 34 forwards, 24 defensemen and six goaltenders. The roster also includes six players on professional tryouts (PTOs), three camp invitees and two players contracted to the American Hockey League’s (AHL) San Diego Gulls.
Training Camp Roster
Forwards: Sam Carrick*, Max Comtois, Chase De Leo, Hunter Drew, Brent Gates, Nathan Gaucher, Glenn Gawdin, Max Golod, Derek Grant, Rocco Grimaldi, Benoit-Olivier Groulx, Adam Henrique, Connor Hvidston, Max Jones, Bryce Kindopp, Ben King, Justin Kirkland, Josh Lopina, Isac Lundeström, Blake McLaughlin, Mason McTavish, Logan Nijhoff, Danny O’Regan, Dmitry Osipov, Sasha Pastujov, Jacob Perreault, Pavol Regenda, Jakob Silfverberg, Ryan Strome, Brayden Tracey, Sean Tschigerl, Frank Vatrano, Trevor Zegras
Defensemen: Axel Andersson, Nathan Beaulieu, Simon Benoit, Nikolas Brouillard, Charles Cote, Jamie Drysdale, Cam Fowler, Josh Healey, Drew Helleson, Tyson Hinds, Olli Juolevi, John Klingberg, Dmitri Kulikov, Tristan Luneau, Josh Mahura, Pavel Mintyukov, John Moore*, Luka Profaca, Kevin Shattenkirk, Austin Strand, Urho Vaakanainen, Noah Warren, Colton White, Olen Zellweger
Goalies: Gage Alexander, Lukáš Dostál, Olle Eriksson Ek, John Gibson, Daniel Mannella, Anthony Stolarz
New Additions Strengthen Ducks’ Top-6
A lot of the buzz on the Ducks this offseason has come from Mason McTavish and his exploits with Canada at the World Juniors, where he helped lead them to a gold medal as team captain. It seems all but likely that he’ll be on the NHL roster this season but he’s not the only new face that will adorn the forward lines.
The Ducks added former New York Rangers Frank Vatrano and Ryan Strome via free agency this summer as they continue on the path toward rebuilding the franchise into a playoff contender again. Both should help ease the load taken on by Trevor Zegras and Troy Terry last season and the addition of the former pair will help improve the Ducks’ top six substantially.
Zegras and McTavish will likely be the top-two centers, but Strome and Adam Henrique both have more than enough experience at pivot to fill in for defensive draws or penalty kills. Henrique spent most of last season playing left wing after spending a majority of his Ducks tenure down the middle.
Carrick Injury Opens Up Spot on Fourth Line
After being recalled early on from San Diego last season, Sam Carrick solidified a spot on the fourth line. His work ethic and determination earned him a two-year contract extension in the offseason, with the former Gulls captain’s efforts finally coming to fruition.
Now, he’s on the mend after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip. Carrick is expected to resume skating next month with an eye toward November as a return date. His absence leaves a spot for the taking amongst a handful of players.
Benoit-Olivier Groulx, who made the team out of training camp last season, could be a prime option. His ability to play both left-wing and down the middle – though he’s primarily a center – and defense-first mentality could help give him the edge against others.
Max Jones is also returning to the fold after missing all but two games last season due to a torn pectoral muscle. Jones was eyeing an April return last season but the Ducks felt it better for him to take his time recovering with the team nowhere close to the playoff hunt. His rugged game is something they didn’t have much off after dealing away Josh Manson and Nic Deslauriers at the trade deadline and having someone with both skill and brawn on the roster could put Jones at the front of the line.
Last but certainly not least, Brayden Tracey had himself a nice weekend up in San Jose last week at the Rookie Faceoff Tournament, potting two goals in three games. The 2019 draft pick played in one game for the Ducks last year, spending the majority of the season playing for the Gulls in his first season as a pro.
Whether or not Tracey’s game fits the mold of what head coach Dallas Eakins wants out of his fourth line remains to be seen, but he has the ability to provide scoring depth and isn’t afraid to get into the dirty areas either. He probably needs a little bit more time in the AHL before making the step up to the NHL full-time, but a good camp could change that.
Other notables who have a chance at filling in one of the final bottom-six spots are Danny O’Regan, Hunter Drew, Bryce Kindopp, Chase De Leo and Rocco Grimaldi, who’s on a professional tryout contract (PTO).
Who Makes the Back End of the Blue Line?
The Ducks’ starting defense looks just about set after the acquisition of Dmitri Kulikov on Aug. 31. They also brought in John Klingberg on a one-year deal which should help take some of the pressure off young Jamie Drysdale’s shoulders. With veterans Cam Fowler and Kevin Shattenkirk returning, that leaves just one open spot on the blue line. It’ll likely go to a left-handed defenseman as well, given Eakins’ affinity for wanting to keep left-right pairs consistent.
A slew of left-handed blueliners populates the Ducks’ training camp roster, with Simon Benoit and Josh Mahura being two players who spent significant time with the Ducks last season. Benoit, in particular, played in 53 games during his first full NHL season. Mahura has struggled to get into the lineup on a regular basis and his time with the Ducks may be coming to a close if he fails to stick through camp.
Urho Vaakanainen, who came over in the Hampus Lindholm deal last season, may have the upper hand given that he was a key player in the return for him. His numbers when paired with Drysdale were far from fantastic but perhaps being shifted into a more sheltered role can help him flourish more.
The underlying issue is that all three players are waiver-eligible and could be claimed by another team if they fail to make the team out of camp. But perhaps that’s exactly what general manager Pat Verbeek is looking for, plenty of competition and the strongest of wills coming out on top.
Rising prospect Olen Zellweger also looms in the shadows, coming off terrific performances in the Western Hockey League (WHL) with the Everett Silvertips and the World Juniors with Team Canada. The Ducks seem to be caught in between a rock and hard place when it comes to Zellweger, as he dominated the WHL last season but doesn’t seem quite ready for the NHL yet. He also can’t be assigned to the AHL, given that he’s still too young.
Because he’s an entry-level slide candidate, the Ducks may keep him around for a few games to see how he fares before reassigning him to the Silvertips, similarly to what they did with McTavish last season.
|Adam Henrique||Trevor Zegras||Troy Terry|
|Frank Vatrano||Mason McTavish||Ryan Strome|
|Max Comtois||Isac Lundeström||Jakob Silfverberg|
|Benoit-Olivier Groulx||Derek Grant||Max Jones|
|Cam Fowler||Jamie Drysdale|
|Dmitiri Kulikov||John Klingberg|
|Urho Vaakanainen||Kevin Shattenkirk|
The Ducks head to Tempe on Sunday for their first preseason game against the Arizona Coyotes. They’ll play six more games to round out the preseason with three at home and three others after Sunday being on the road. Their season and home opener are on Oct. 12 against the Seattle Kraken.
Derek has been a hockey fan for over 10 years and a sports fan in general for more than two decades.
Prior to graduating from UCCS in Colorado Springs, CO in May 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in Sports Communication, he spent two and a half years as part of UCCS’ on-campus student newspaper staff–both as a sports reporter and editor. He is now creating Ducks-related content from his home in Southern California.
In his free time he enjoys playing FIFA, watching video essays on YouTube and curating his Spotify playlists.