With the college hockey season just about coming to a close and playoffs for juniors beginning soon, some of the Anaheim Ducks’ prospects have been on full display over the past month. That’s likely to continue once playoffs for juniors and the minor leagues begin.
Golod Quietly Having Solid Season in ECHL
One of the Ducks’ lesser-known prospects, Max Golod has settled in comfortably with the Tulsa Oilers in the ECHL. After playing time initially became hard to find while with the San Diego Gulls in the American Hockey League (AHL) this season, Golod was reassigned to the Oilers.
He’s looked more like the player who put up 78 points in 63 games as an Erie Otter during the 2019-20 season since being reassigned to the Oilers and currently has 21 points in 29 games. Golod signed an entry-level contract (ELC) with the Ducks following the conclusion of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft and split time between the Gulls and Oilers during the 2020-21 season.
Golod needs another couple of seasons in the minors before proving he can eventually compete for a spot on the Ducks’ roster. It’s worth noting that he spent most of training camp in the bottom six, though he still possesses enough skill to move up and down the lineup.
Zellweger Continues to Put Up Points
Olen Zellweger just can’t stop scoring. The defenseman added another five points to his total this past week and continues to lead all Western Hockey League (WHL) defensemen in points by a wide margin, and with more than a few games in hand compared to the other top-scoring defensemen in the league.
It’s been a breakout season for the 18-year-old, who put up just 12 points in 58 games during the 2019-20 season. The 2020-21 season was shortened to 24 games due to the COVID-19 pandemic and deemed a “developmental season,” but even then, Zellweger was only able to play in 11 games, putting up 13 points. That small sample size was a sign of things to come, as he’s put up 78 points in 54 games thus far and is projected to hit the 80-point mark by the end of the WHL season.
Zellweger is also already under contract with the Ducks, having signed his ELC just mere weeks after being drafted last summer in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. Given his age, it will be some time before Zellweger becomes a fixture on the Ducks’ blue line, but the signs are already promising.
Limoges Sets Gulls Rookie Goalscoring Record
It’s been quite a season for Alex Limoges. The Penn State University alum has been on a scoring tear these past several weeks and set a new Gulls rookie goalscoring record with his tally on Friday night.
After joining up with the Gulls late last season on a professional tryout (PTO) following the end of his collegiate career with Penn State, Limoges signed a one-year deal with the Gulls this past offseason. Though he did start out the season a bit slow, he and the team have turned it up at the right time, right before the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Limoges is technically not under contract with the Ducks, which means that they’ll need to sign him to an ELC if they want to get a look at him at the NHL level. Given the dearth of scoring options on the Ducks, a good training camp performance in September could see him crack the opening night roster.
All Eyes on Eliminated College Prospects
The Ducks have a series of collegiate prospects whose seasons have concluded and a few of them could be on their way to San Diego. A pair of prospects have already gone down this path in the past couple of weeks with Drew Helleson and Josh Lopina both signing their ELCs and being immediately inserted into the Gulls’ lineup.
Blake McLaughlin, a senior at the University of Minnesota, could be the most intriguing of the bunch for the Ducks as he has the opportunity to decline to sign a deal with the Ducks and become an unrestricted free agent if he so chooses. McLaughlin was one of Minnesota’s top scorers this season and he should be in high demand if he decides not to sign with the Ducks. The deadline for him to sign a contract with the organization is Aug. 15.
McLaughlin’s teammate, Jackson LaCombe, is a mobile, offensive presence on the blue line and while LaCombe is just a junior, he too could follow in the footsteps of Helleson and Lopina. The Ducks’ defensive depth has been quite barren since they shipped out Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson at the trade deadline and they’ll need to restock the cupboard at some point.
Like LaCombe, Henry Thrun of Harvard University is also another candidate to potentially sign an ELC in the coming weeks. Thrun was Harvard’s top provider on the blue line and was recently named a CCM Hockey/AHCA All-American. Adding both LaCombe and Thrun would give the Ducks two more smooth-skating puck movers on the left side of their defensive depth chart.
- Sasha Pastujov scored two goals and assisted on two others this week for the Guelph Storm.
- Kyle Kukkonen scored two goals (including the game-winner) in the Madison Capitols’ 6-5 overtime win on April 2.
- For the Gulls, Jacob Perreault is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Meanwhile, Bryce Kindopp and Lucas Elvenes added a goal apiece for the Gulls this week while the trio of Brayden Tracey, Benoit-Olivier Groulx and Greg Printz all had an assist apiece. Hunter Drew also had two assists. Goaltender Lukáš Dostál stopped 41 of 47 shots in two starts (1-1-0 record) while Olle Eriksson Ek stopped 18 of 21 shots in relief on Friday night.
- Mason McTavish scored two goals and assisted on two others for the Hamilton Bulldogs this week.
- Ethan Bowen scored two goals for the Chilliwack Chiefs this week.
While the product on the ice in Anaheim may be lacking and difficult to watch at times recently, the future looks bright given the quality of prospects waiting in the wings. As the Ducks continue to rebuild, fans should have plenty to look forward to in the coming seasons.
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.