After an impressive run during both the regular season and the post-season, the Anaheim Ducks will gear up to select late in the 2015 first round. Fortunately for them this is a solid enough year where plenty of great talent will still available.
While the Ducks may not get a huge impact player selecting so late, they really only need something to complement the already impressive youth movement that is happening in Orange County. Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, Sami Vatanen, Rickard Rakell, John Gibson, and Emerson Etem are just a few of the young, home-grown talents that pepper the Ducks lineup. These selections have all come within the last five years, and have helped them become a deeper and more threatening team. Their core is slowly developing around strong drafting, and they are going to be looking to add a piece to that core in 2015. This could be the start of a few years where the Ducks are selecting late in the first round, so Anaheim fans might as well get used to it.
Top 10 Prospects
1. Shea Theodore, D
2. John Gibson, G
3. Nick Ritchie, LW
4. Nicolas Kerdiles, LW
5. Brandon Montour, D
6. Kevin Roy, LW
7. Chris Wagner, C
8. Stefan Noesen, RW
9. Marcus Pettersson, D
10. Nick Sorensen, RW
Easily the most deficient area of the Anaheim Ducks pipeline is center. The Ducks do not have a top six center in the ranks, nor do they have a legit top six right winger. However, given the make up of the NHL roster, a center will be most pressing in the near future. Ryan Kesler and Nate Thompson have been very good in their roles of number two and number three or four center. However both are pressing the age of 30. It may not be immediate, but a good solid top six or top nine center will be needed in a few years. It would not hurt for the Ducks to pick up a decent goaltending prospect either. Igor Bobkov and Ryan Faragher remain the only two behind Gibson, and both have struggled to find form in the ECHL and AHL.
Defense is the bread and butter of the Ducks organization at this point. Shea Theodore looks like a potential top-pairing player in the making, Brandon Montour has been impressive in the early days of his professional career, and surprise layers like Josh Manson also help bolster the depth. There is a good mix of defensive oriented and offensive oriented defensemen in the pipeline as well, which helps provide an essence of balance.
There are also several good wing prospects that Anaheim fans are looking forward to seeing. Last year’s first round selection, Nick Ritchie, is looking like a complete player, while guys like Noesen, Kerdiles, and Roy are also making their presences felt in the system. The left wing group in particular is impressive. Between Ritchie, Kerdiles, Roy, and the improving Max Friberg, there is plenty of variety and potency coming from the wing position to supply them for a few years.
As stated before, the center group and goaltending group could use some work. As it currently stands, the best center that the Ducks have in the system is probably Chris Wagner. Beyond him it is a mix of former Avalanche prospect Michael Sgarbossa and a couple of standout junior and amateur players that are having trouble cutting it at the AHL level in Charles Sarault and Antoine Laganiere. If a hole at center is not already there for the Ducks, it will definitely be in a few years. No question they would love to fill it from within.
Over the past five years the Ducks have had two major tendencies pop up in their draft selections. Last year, four of their five selections came from either Europe or the U.S. amateur circuit. In fact, of the Ducks’ last 25 draft selections dating back to 2011, 18 of them have been from either Europe or the U.S. amateur ranks. Those are some staggering numbers when you consider a team like the crosstown rival Kings, who have only selected a combination of eight collegiate players out of their last 29 picks since 2011. Bob Murray and crew definitely love these sources, and European players especially. The love is for good reason as well. The Ducks have a rich history of strong European players, and have been rewarded quite handsomely in recent history. Hampus Lindholm, Freddie Andersen, William Karlsson, Max Friberg, Sami Vatanen, and Ondrej Kase are just a few names that have progressed very well within the ranks of their recent selections. The 2015 NHL Draft has an excellent group of European skaters, so do not be surprised to see them reach into the honey hole of Finland, Sweden, or the Czech Republic yet again. Their scouts seem to be onto something there.
Hockey’s Future Staff Mock Draft Results
This was a difficult decision overall, as the talented defenseman Thomas Chabot was still on the board during the mock draft. Nevertheless, the need for center far outweighed an already jammed defensive pipeline. Chlapik fits the bill for Anaheim. The 18 year old Czech made his way over from HC Sparta Praha’s junior squad this past season to Charlottetown of the Q, and was instantly a success. His slick and creative offensive skillset coupled with his on-ice intelligence and vision make for a tantalizing package at number 27. Not to mention he has NHL size already at 6’1” and just shy of 200 pounds. While his defensive game could use a little bit of work, he would almost instantly become the most talented center in the system for the Anaheim Ducks.
He was third in overall rookie scoring this season, behind 2015 eligible prospects Evgeny Svechnikov of Cape Breton and Dmytro Timashov of the Quebec Ramparts. Of course, Timashov had the 40 goal scorer Adam Erne (TBL) to dish the puck to on a regular basis. The Czech was second on the Islanders in scoring with 75 points, and 33 goals. He does, however, need to work on his faceoffs. He took the second most draws on the team and won just 48.8 percent. There is plenty of room for growth, and it will be interesting to see where he goes after such an outstanding rookie campaign in the QMJHL. The Ducks would be hard pressed to pass on him if he is available towards the latter stages of the first round.