Anaheim Ducks Counting on Prospects

By Kevin Forbes

For the first time in what seems like ages, this year’s Mighty Ducks
training and rookie camps featured surprising depth at all position.

Top prospect Stanislav Chistov, along with the 2000 NHL Entry Draft 1st
round draft pick for the Ducks, Alexei Smirnov, Ex-Colorado Avalanche
blueliner prospect Kurt Sauer and veteran European netminder Martin Gerber,
all made the team.

Chistov currently leads all rookies in scoring with 2 goals and 5 assists in
7 games with a +2 plus/minus rating, but he has been very inconsistent with
his offense and has disappeared some nights. After a year away from hockey,
Chistov still seems to be shaking off a bit of rust. The team is not rushing
him, even making him a healthy scratch one night.
Smirnov has impressed with his physical two-way play and has scored 1 goal
along with 1 assist in 8 games as well as being 0 in plus/minus. He is also
not being rushed, averaging less ice-time then any other player except for
Kevin Sawyer.

Sauer has drawn rave reviews for his steady play and maturity on the ice. He
is used mainly with Keith Carney, and is also as solid as his partner
defensively as well as being more physical then Carney. He has yet to
register any points and is -4.

Martin Gerber has provided strong netminding behind an inconsistent J.S.
Giguere. He has played in 3 games, registered a win and a tie with a 1.60
GAA and a 93.4% save percentage. Giguere on the other hand has a 1-4-1
record and 3.33 GAA with a 88.8% save percentage.
Josh Dewolf, a former New Jersey Devils defensive prospect, who was signed
as a free agent this off-season is also on the Mighty Ducks roster, but has
yet to play a game.

Jason Krog, a former Hobey Baker winner, started the season on the Ducks
roster, but was sent down to Cincy after the Ducks claimed Mike Brown off
waivers from the Vancouver Canucks.

One of the major developments coming into the season was the treatment of
Jason York, German Titov, Denny Lambert and Sami Pahlsson. All of these
players were with the Ducks last season only to find that they no longer had
a job this season. Jason York, who was especially vocal about his
displeasure, was shipped to the Nashville Predators after leading the
Cincinnati Mighty Ducks in scoring (4 games, 3 goals, 2 assists, 5 points).
Pahlsson is currently playing in Cincy (5 games, 3 assists, 3 points) while
Titov and Lambert are not playing anywhere, awaiting for contract buy-out
talks to reach an agreement.

Players such as Mike Commodore (6 games in Cincy, 2 assists), Jonathan
Hedstrom (5 games in Cincy, 4 goals, 1 assist), Mark Popovic (6 games in
Cincy, 1 assist) and Ilya Bryzgalov (4 games in Cincy, 4.18 GAA and 87.5%
save percentage) all impressed in camp this off-season and should get the
call if injuries strike. J.F. Damphousse (3 games in Cincy, 2.94 GAA and
91.2% save percentage), Robert Valicevic (6 games in Cincy, 2 goals and 4
assists) and Cam Severson (6 games in Cincy, 4 goals and 1 assist) have been
impressive early on in Cincy as well.

Joffrey Lupul missed part of camp with back injuries and was returned to
Medicine Hat Tigers on the Western Hockey League. He is ranked 17th in
league scoring with 10 goals and 9 assists after 12 games. Igor Pohanka,
acquired in the big trade with New Jersey, is ranked 14 in WHL league
scoring with 10 goals and 10 assists after 14 games with the Prince Albert
Raiders. Tim Brent is playing for the St. Mike’s Majors in the Ontario
Hockey League. He is 13th in league scoring with 6 goals along with 15
assists during 16 games. Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau is leading the Quebec
Major Junior Hockey League in scoring with 13 goals and 20 assists after 18
games.

There is a need in the organization for a centre prospect capable of
replacing Adam Oates. Brent, Parenteau and Pohanka all could be
possibilities, but it is unsure on whether or not they will be ready or
could hold a top line position.

Also puck-moving defenseman are needed. Jason York was traded away, as was
Oleg Tverdovsky. The cupboard is bare after Mark Popovic. Currently only
Fredrik Olausson and Niklas Havelid have any offensive ability at all.
Finally, A.J. Niemi, Timo Parssinen and Jonas Ronnqvist left the team this
off season to return to Europe. Something has to be done to prevent
promising prospects like these from leaving the developmental system. All
three have been quoted as being unhappy with their futures in the
organization.