Here’s something that’s been missing from the Anaheim Ducks’ section of The Hockey Writers for a handful of months: tried and true prospect updates. With a full slate of games this week, there were plenty of updates on Ducks’ prospects worldwide and at many different levels.
Alexander Stops 18 Shots En Route to Win, Bowen Pots a Pair
Gage Alexander displayed some of his untapped potential during the numerous Ducks camps he attended this past September and he’s carried that momentum with him back to the Winnipeg Ice in the Western Hockey League (WHL).
After stopping 18 of 19 shots in Sunday’s 3-1 win over the Swift Current Broncos, Alexander is now 3-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average (GAA) and .950 save percentage (SV%). The 6-foot-6 goaltender is only 19 years of age and has plenty of room to improve, especially since goalies tend to reach their prime much later than skaters typically do.
Ethan Bowen – who admittedly, there’s not much information on – scored twice for the Chilliwack Chiefs of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) in their 7-3 win over the Merritt Centennials.
Bowen was a seventh-round pick by the Ducks in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft and will spend next season playing collegiate hockey at the University of North Dakota. Collegiate hockey is a big step up from the BCHL, so we won’t get an idea of where Bowen’s skill level is really at until he begins his college hockey career.
Nickl Tallies Assist in Win, Janicke Scores Twice in Route of RIT
Thimo Nickl had a rough 2020-21 season, registering five points in 27 games across four different teams. On top of all of that, he tested positive for COVID-19 prior to the 2021 World Juniors tournament, so he could not participate with Team Austria.
This season, Nickl has gotten off to a much better start with two points in five games for AIK (on loan from Rögle BK) in the HockeyAllsvenskan. Both points have been assists, with the latest coming in a 3-2 win over Mora IK on Friday.
Trevor Janicke is one of the more underrated and lesser-known prospects in the Ducks’ pipeline, mostly because of his low draft pick status and his slightly undersized build. But Janicke has an above-average shot and utilized it well in Notre Dame’s 6-0 bludgeoning of RIT.
The former U.S. NTDP product scored twice on two shots and finished the game with a plus-3 rating. He probably won’t ever have the top-end skating or skill to be a fixture in an NHL top-6, but he could potentially carve out a role as a solid bottom-six forward in the future.
Pastujov on Scoresheet Again, Also Drops Gloves
Sasha Pastujov is loving life in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). With a goal in Friday’s game, he now has a point in five out of his first six OHL games and a five-game point streak. Not only did he tickle the twine, but he also dropped the gloves, showing that he’s not afraid to get nasty when the situation calls for it.
Pastujov slid in the 2021 draft due to concerns about his skating, but his goal-scoring prowess has kept the doubters quiet for the time being. Continuing to work with renowned skating coach Barb Underhill should improve his skating to the point where eventually teams will be kicking themselves in the future about passing up on him.
McLaughlin Leads Trio of Prospects in Loss to Minnesota-Duluth
Anaheim’s three Minnesota Golden Gophers were led by Blake McLaughin in a 5-3 loss to Minnesota Duluth. McLaughlin assisted on two of the Golden Gophers’ goals while defenseman Jackson Lacombe and forward Jack Perbix were scoreless. All three are unlikely to be NHLers any time soon, but McLaughlin and Lacombe have progressed well since becoming collegiate hockey players.
Kukkonen Assists in Win Over Muskegon, Tschigerl Powers Hitmen to Big Win
After absolutely obliterating Minnesota high school hockey, Kyle Kukkonen transitioned to the United States Hockey League (USHL) this season. Donning the “A” for the Madison Capitols, he has 10 points (2 goals, 8 assists) in nine games. He is still an extremely raw prospect, but the Ducks took a low-risk flier on him with their 2021 sixth-round pick. His progression looks promising for now and the transition to collegiate hockey with Michigan Tech should help even more.
With eight points in six games, Sean Tschigerl has been one of the Calgary Hitmen’s major contributors. A 2021 fifth-round pick by the Ducks, Tschigerl displayed a noticeable two-way game during training camp and it’s clear that he was able to take away some important lessons from his time spent with the big club. Like many of the Ducks’ prospects, he’s still a couple of seasons away from potentially reaching the NHL, but his stock is trending upward.
Limoges, Rafferty Score in Big Loss Against Heat
Playing their first game in almost a week, the San Diego Gulls fell to the Stockton Heat 6-2. Alex Limoges and Brogan Rafferty were on the scoresheet for the Gulls, while goaltender Lukas Dostal stopped 28 of 34 shots. Limoges was a surprise star at the end of last season, joining the Gulls on a professional tryout (PTO) before being extended an American Hockey League deal during the summer after a strong showing in his first (abbreviated) pro season.
Rafferty joined the Ducks this offseason after spending the last two seasons in the Vancouver Canucks organization. He spent most of last season on the taxi squad and only got in one game with the big club––in which he tallied his first NHL assist.
The Gulls have an abundance of Ducks prospects on their roster, most notably Dostal, along with former first-round picks Brayden Tracey and Jacob Perreault. The Gulls have an excellent reputation of providing a terrific environment for the Ducks of the future, with Gulls alumni such as Max Comtois, Troy Terry, Isac Lundestrom, Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale now making an impact for the Ducks.
Ducks assistant general manager Martin Madden and his team of scouts have done a good job of finding talent in many different places. This is further emphasized by how big of a piece this becomes once you realize how many updates there have been from this week alone. Continuing to nurture and develop the next wave of talent will help build the Ducks back into the playoff contender they once were, which may be sooner than anticipated.