This week’s edition of Ducks News & Rumors includes the Anaheim Ducks’ prospect pipeline ranking from The Athletic, news on 2021 draftee Sasha Pastujov and information about the first opportunities to see the newest and youngest Ducks in the organization for the very first time.
Ducks Named No. 10 Pipeline by The Athletic
The Athletic’s Corey Pronman named the Ducks as his No. 10 prospect pipeline this week (from, ‘NHL Pipeline Rankings: No. 10 Anaheim Ducks have difference-makers coming up in the system’, The Athletic, 09/01/21). The Ducks’ pipeline is led by Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale, but 2021 first-round pick Mason McTavish slots in at No. 3. on Pronman’s list of the Ducks’ top 13 prospects. New additions Olen Zellweger and Sasha Pastujov also crack the top 10, while Benoit-Olivier Groulx jumps into the top 5, just behind Maxime Comtois.
Pronman mentions the solid stretch of good, young forwards that the Ducks have in their system, and the continued development of Lukas Dostal means that they also have a quality goaltending prospect in the pipeline. The Ducks will need to refill their defensive prospect pool soon, especially if players like Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson depart this season.
Pastujov Chooses Juniors Over College
Pastujov was initially going to spend this upcoming season at the collegiate hockey level with Notre Dame. But two weeks ago, he decided to reverse that decision and signed his entry-level contract with the Ducks. He is now planning to spend this season with the Guelph Storm in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), the team that held his OHL rights.
Todd Marchant, the Ducks’ head of player development, had a large part in why Pastujov decided to change course and sign with the Ducks right away. Pastujov will now be working with skating coach Barb Underhill — whose skating exploits alone are enough to warrant accreditation — to improve his skating (from, Behind Sasha Pastujov’s decision to forsake college and go the junior route’, The Athletic, 08/27/21). Underhill and Ducks general manager Bob Murray have long-time connections, and Underhill is also part-owner of the Storm, so the fit was like a glove. Pastujov’s skating is one of the reasons why he dropped to the third round of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.
Deciding to pave his way through juniors now means that Pastujov will not only be in Anaheim for the Ducks’ rookie camp, he will also be playing in their Rookie Faceoff tournament in Arizona. Now, Pastujov will be able to work on his skating while playing on a schedule that mirrors one of a pro hockey player.
Open Practices Announced
The Ducks announced that they will hold open practices for both their development camp on Friday, Sept. 3 and their rookie camp on Thursday, Sept. 16. Both practices will begin at 10:30 AM on Rink 3 at Great Park Ice in Irvine. Fans will be required to wear face masks at all times unless actively eating or drinking.
The Ducks also announced that six of their eight draftees from the 2021 NHL Entry Draft will be attending. McTavish, Zellweger, Pastujov, Tyson Hinds, Sean Tschigerl and Gage Alexander are all attending, while Joshua Lopina and Kyle Kukkonen are the two players from the 2021 draft class who will not be attending.
This will be the first opportunity that most Ducks fans will have to see Drysdale, McTavish and the like in the flesh (Zegras attended development camp in 2019).
The development camp roster also includes two camp invitees, defenseman Louka Henault and left wing Dominick Mersch. You can see the entire development camp roster by clicking here.
We’re less than three weeks away from the beginning of training camp, and with a Jack Eichel trade unlikely to occur any time soon, the Ducks have narrowed down a majority of their roster.
Of course, there’s always the opportunity for a young player to make an impact during training camp and crack the opening night roster. These next few weeks should give us plenty of insight into who could potentially make a breakthrough.
Derek has been a hockey fan for 10 years and a sports fan in general for more than two decades.
He graduated from UCCS in Colorado Springs, CO in May 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in Sports Communication and spent the last several years as part of UCCS’ on-campus student newspaper staff–both as a reporter and editor. He is now creating Ducks-related content from his home in Southern California.