In part two of this two-part look at the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim prospects, we will look at the prospects in the AHL and in the NHL.
Chistov started the season with a blast, registering 4 points in his first NHL game. He has cooled down considerably since then, struggling with his consistency and was even a healthy scratch for one game in December. Chistov is currently tied for 3rd in rookie scoring. The team is taking it slow with Chistov, which will no doubt be better for his development. He has been playing with limited ice time but still has shown flashes of greatness that led scouts to claim he was the most talented player in the 2001 draft. Chistov probably won’t win the Calder but his long term effect on the team is immense.
Note: Chistov is no longer a prospect after playing in 41 games
Kurt Sauer’s addition to the team can’t be seen on the scoreboard (only 1 assist so far). But he is playing solid defensive hockey and displaying poise beyond his years. He is a workhorse on the blueline, playing mostly with Keith Carney. Although Sauer’s plus/minus isn’t impressive, it is amazing that a rookie can step into the lineup and play as strong as Sauer has.
Note: Sauer is no longer a prospect after playing in 41 games
Smirnov had a hot start, snaring 2 points in his first game. He went stone cold for a while, before being sent down to Cincy. Smirnov has struggled with his consistency and questions about his dedication are still being raised. His time in the AHL seems to have done him well and after being called up at the beginning of January, he has been much improved, using his physical skills more to his advantage.
Gerber has provided solid, unspectacular play as a backup for J-S Giguere. Although the team seems to lack confidence in him, and are unable to score when Gerber is between the pipes. Gerber missed 4 games due to personal reasons.
Note: Gerber is no longer a prospect because of his age and position with the big club.
Hedstrom almost won a position with the big team right out of training camp. Coming up just short, he started the season in Cincy and suffered a career threatening eye injury after be struck by a stick blade. After coming back from the injury, he was scoreless 2 games with Anaheim before being returned to Cincy. It remains to be seen how much this eye injury will affect him in the long run, but it appears like he will develop into a light-scoring power forward as projected.
Bryzgalov was just edged out of the backup position by Martin Gerber. He was sent to Cincy where he was supposed to be the #1 netminder. Bryzgalov has struggled this season, and has apparently lost his #1 position in Cincy to J-F Damphousse. However, Bryzgalov’s determination will keep him from falling to far.
Popovic has been impressive in his first pro season. He started the season a little slow but has since improved his offensive play. He appears to be right on track to soon take a place on Anaheim’s point.
Commodore has provided the physical play for Cincy, leading them in penalty minutes. He was called up for a look with the big club, but was sent back down without playing a game. Reportedly, the coaching staff was unimpressed because he was out of shape. He has since improved his
conditioning and recently drove from Cincy to Anaheim to show off this new dedication.
Damphousse was the first goaltender sent down to Cincy in training camp, but has since turned his year around. By playing well, coupled with the poor play of Bryzgalov, Damphousse is now the #1 goaltender for the Baby Ducks. He was named the Cincy Ducks player of the month for the month of November. He projects to be an elite backup goaltender.
Podhradsky has been solid again on the blueline for the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks. He hasn’t exactly been setting the league on fire points-wise (4g and 2a in 37 games), but that’s not his style. He should begin to start compete for time with the big club soon.
In his rookie year in the AHL (and North American hockey), he has proved to be an offensive catalyst for the Baby Ducks. His 28 points (10g and 18a) in 38 games, lead the Ducks in scoring. He was the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks player of the month for the month of December.
Gornick is balancing Air Force commitments as well as playing in the AHL. He will probably hold off advancing to the big team until after his Air Force commitments are over. In 29 games, Gornick has 1 goal and 1 assist. When he is brought up, he should be an excellent 4th liner.
Guite, a former New York Islander prospect, has helped the offense with 5g and 14 points in 39 games.
Pecker, a free agent signing over the off-season has shown why he was among the scoring leaders in the OHL last year. He started slow but has slowly become more accustomed to the big league play. He has 9g and 6a in 38 games.
Smith has had troubles with injuries so far this season. He was held pointless in the 6 games he appeared in and is currently on the injured reserve.
Tabacek has also been bitten by the injury bug this season. After a shoulder injury 3 games into the season, he missed 36 games. He was assigned to Dayton of the ECHL for conditioning on Jan. 24, 2002, and returned to Cincinnati after playing one game there (recorded 1 assist). He is pointless in the 3 games he has played for Cincy.