Ducks’ 2022 Draft Class Shows Size Does Matter

The next phase of the Anaheim Ducks’ rebuild took place this past weekend at the 2022 NHL Entry Draft in Montreal. The Ducks selected eight times during the draft — twice during the first and second rounds apiece.

Ducks Add Brawn on the Blue Line

Out of the eight picks the Ducks had, three of those were used on defensemen. Russian Pavel Mintyukov was drafted 10th overall, while teammates (and good friends) Noah Warren and Tristan Luneau were both selected in the second round.

Warren is the tallest among the eight Ducks’ draft picks, standing at 6-foot-5, while Mintyukov and Luneau are both 6-foot-2. Mintyukov gives the Ducks another mobile, offensive-minded defenseman in the pipeline to go along with Olen Zellweger and recently graduated prospect Jamie Drysdale.

Related: Ducks Address Multiple Needs on Day 1 of 2022 Draft

Adding both Warren and Luneau helps restock the right-handed defenseman cupboard a little bit, which has been quite bare behind Drysdale after the departures of Sami Vatanen and Brandon Montour in seasons past and Josh Manson at last season’s trade deadline.

Both Warren and Luneau are still a bit raw and will need some time to develop — as does Mintyukov. Warren’s size should help him fare well during puck battles in the corners, but he’ll need to refine the other aspects of his game in order to one day reach the NHL level.

Luneau was the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s (QMJHL) top rookie this past season and carries a bit more offensive upside than Mintyukov. And it’s worth noting Luneau did all this after undergoing knee surgery last summer.

Big Wings N’ Things

None of the Ducks’ eight picks this past weekend fell below 6-foot-2, making for quite a set of sizable players. The Ducks took four forwards in total, three in the later rounds of the draft. They selected Nathan Gaucher with the 22nd overall pick, while a pair of young forwards in Connor Hvidston and Michael Callow, both born in 2004, and center Ben King, who just finished up his final junior season in the Western Hockey League (WHL), were the three others.

Gaucher looks like the Ducks’ solution to finally replacing Ryan Kesler, as the former has proven his defensive chops whilst playing his trade in the QMJHL. Gaucher is 6-foot-3 and already over 200 pounds at 18 years of age, which means he’s only going to get bigger.

Nathan Gaucher Anaheim Ducks
Nathan Gaucher, Anaheim Ducks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

What he lacks in offensive upside, he makes up for in the defensive zone. Plus, being able to potentially slot him in behind Trevor Zegras and Mason McTavish will take a load of defensive responsibility off the former pair in the future.

Hvidston was eligible for the 2022 Draft by just four days, making him one of the youngest players in the draft. Already 6-foot-2 at age 17, the winger will look to build on a strong first season with the Swift Current Broncos (32 points in 58 games) in 2022-23.

Callow just finished up his high school hockey career at St. Sebastian’s School and will be playing collegiate hockey at Harvard University next season alongside fellow Ducks draft picks Henry Thrun and Ian Moore. Ducks assistant general manager Martin Madden told The Athletic’s Eric Stephens that there are “lots of years of development in front of him” (from, ‘Ducks stay out of trade waters, add eight players to prospect pool: Day 2 notebook’, The Athletic, 07/09/22).

For King, the conclusion of his junior career means that he will likely begin this upcoming season in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the San Diego Gulls, the Ducks’ affiliate. He could also potentially spend time with the Tulsa Oilers, the Ducks’ ECHL affiliate, similar to how Max Golod did for a majority of this past season.

Ducks Go for a Goalie

The last but certainly not least player drafted by the Ducks was Russian goaltender Vyacheslev Buteyets. Just the first goaltender out of Russia drafted by the Ducks since Igor Bobkov in 2009, Buteyets currently plays for Chelmet Chelyabinsk in the Supreme Hockey League (VHL). He split time between the VHL and Belye Medvedi Chelyabinsk in the Junior Hockey League (MHL) last season, sporting a 2.76 goals against average (GAA) and .904 save percentage (SV%) between the two leagues.

Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek added a goaltending prospect at last season’s trade deadline, bringing in Calle Clang as part of the deal that sent Rickard Rakell to the Pittsburgh Penguins. With Clang, Buteyets and Gage Alexander, the Ducks now have a nice set of goaltending prospects behind NHL-ready prospect Lukáš Dostál.

The message the Ducks sent with their 2022 draft class was clear: they wanted size and lots of it. With some of their current players being a bit on the smaller spectrum, the organization is looking to even out the size differential and find players who are big, strong and skilled. They did just that on July 7 and 8.

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