Mighty Ducks 2004 draft review

By Kevin Forbes

The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim went into the 2004 Entry Draft with plenty
of questions and organizational holes to address. Their future blueline
lacked top end talent, there was a lack of prospects with a combination of size and
skill up front and there was virtually no depth between the pipes.
However,
recent moves had strengthened their defense, there was plenty of depth
up front and the quality of the prospects in net had already forced one
trade.
Therefore, it was hard to pinpoint going in just what organizational needs would be addressed first.

In the first day of the draft, Anaheim focused solely on bolstering their blueline of the
future. Even before the draft began, the Ducks were busy acquiring
defensive
prospects. They traded NHL veteran defenseman Niclas Havelid to the
Atlanta
Thrashers for prospect blueliner Kurtis Foster. Foster, 22, is a
6’5″
giant, who possesses a cannon of a point shot. He is expected to
compete for
a spot with the NHL club at training camp. The defensive focus
continued
during the draft as three of the four players picked on the first day
were
rearguards, while the fourth was a name already familiar to the Ducks
organization.

On the second day of drafting, Anaheim’s attention shifted elsewhere as
three of the four players chosen were forwards and the fourth was the
first
goaltender drafted by Anaheim in three years. Anaheim ended up drafting
eight players, four forwards, three defensemen and a goaltender. Only
two
picks were European (Czech Republic and Finland, respectively), to go
along
with four Canadian-born players and two Americans.

Here’s a look at the eight players that Anaheim drafted in
Raleigh at
the 2004 NHL Entry Draft:

Ladislav Smid, Defense, 9th overall (1st round)
Ladislav Smid was ranked fourth among European Skaters by Central
Scouting
and was the top ranked international defenseman. A Czech native, he is
the
first European drafted by Anaheim with their first rounder since the
departure of former GM Pierre Gauthier two year ago. Given the team’s
lack
of quality depth on the blueline, Smid is a safe pick. He may not be a
high-risk, high-reward prospect, but he should still develop into a top
pairing defender. One NHL scout told Hockey’s Future before the draft that Smid was the
best
defenseman he had seen from Europe. He was highly sought at the draft;
if
rumors are true, he was New York Islanders’ GM Mike Milbury’s much
heralded
sleeper pick.

An NHL scout described Smid to Hockey’s Future as “a little bit of
everything.” Smid’s style of play, with his sound positioning and
smooth
skating has been compared to Niklas Lidstrom, although Smid probably
won’t
be as successful as the Detroit Red Wings rearguard. Meanwhile, his
offensive upside is similar to that of Toronto Maple Leafs blueliner,
Tomas
Kaberle. Smid had 1 goal and 1 assist in 45 games with HC Bili Tygri
Liberec
last season. His statistics don’t necessarily reflect his scoring
capabilities because Smid is playing in the top Czech League. At 6’3″,
220
pounds, Smid has good size but he doesn’t play the body much. Instead,
he
uses his positioning and vision to play a solid game in his own end.

“He
sees the ice unbelievably, can head man the puck beautifully, has the
passing touch and has patience and a good stick,” an NHL scout told
Hockey’s Future. Another scout summed it up by saying “He’s just very
efficient. He’s an excellent defenseman.”

Smid will return to the Czech Republic for the 2004-05 season and is
expected to move to North America for the following season. He should
begin to contribute on an NHL level in two years time.

Jordan Smith, Defense, 39th overall (2nd round)
Jordan Smith was ranked 51st in North American Skaters by Central
Scouting.
A native of Sault Ste. Marie, he plays for the hometown Greyhounds of
the
Ontario Hockey League. In 68 games this season, Smith had 26
points and
127 penalty minutes and was named best defenseman for the
Greyhounds.
A defensive defenseman, Smith loves to use his 6’1″, 207-pound body to
play
a strong, physical game. He’s been compared to current NHL players
Bryan
Marchment and Adam Foote. Aside from his sound play in his own end,
Smith
also has some developing offensive skills. Thanks to his skating
ability and
hard shot, he saw time on both the power play and the penalty kill for
the Greyhounds. He logs plenty of minutes on the blueline and is a leader on and off the ice.

Kyle Klubertanz, Defense, 74th overall (3rd round)
Using a draft pick acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes along with
Tomas
Malec for goaltender Martin Gerber, Anaheim selected feisty rearguard,
Kyle
Klubertanz. Ranked 98th in North American Skaters by Central Scouting,
he
doesn’t back down from anything, despite his average size (6’0″, 178
pounds). His best attribute, however, is his puckmoving skills. He
scored 27
points in 57 games for Green Bay of the USHL, which was good enough for
third
on the team in scoring and sixth in the league in scoring among
defensemen.
Klubertanz is committed to the University of Wisconsin for next season,
where he will strive to improve his defensive play as well as get
stronger.

Tim Brent, Center, 75th overall (3rd round)
With the pick immediately following the selection of Klubertanz, the
Ducks
selected Tim Brent. After another strong year with the Toronto St.
Michael’s
Majors in the OHL, Brent was unable to come to terms with a contract in
May,
so he re-entered the draft. The Ducks, however, were not about to give
up on
the 20-year-old that quickly, and they selected him a second time, 39
spots
after his first draft position (35th overall in 2002). Brent possesses
great
skills at both ends of the ice, along with leadership and grit. His
6’0″,
175-pound frame holds him back a bit, but his talent and determination
should eventually make him a solid second or third line pivot. In 53
games
last season with St. Mike’s, Brent had 67 points, including 26 goals.
He may
be able to reach an agreement on a contract for next season, and could
start
in Cincinnati with the Ducks AHL farm team, possibly even seeing an NHL
call
up. If not, he can still return to captain the Majors for his final
year of
junior.

Matt Auffrey, Right Wing, 172nd overall (6th round)
The Ducks dealt both this year’s fourth and fifth round selections to
Nashville
during last year’s draft to select blueliner Nathan Saunders,
119th
overall in 2003. So the team waited almost 100 selections before going
to
the podium again to select Matt Auffrey. Rated 152nd in North American
Skaters by Central Scouting, Auffrey will join third round selection,
Kyle
Klubertanz at the University of Wisconsin in the fall. At 6’2″ and 203
pounds, Auffrey has power forward potential. He has a great shot and
good
puckhandling skills, but his skating still needs work and his drive
and
determination don’t always seem to be there. Auffrey had 14 goals and
16
assists for 30 points in 53 games last season with the USA Hockey
National
Team Development Program U-18 team.

Gabriel Bouthillette, Goaltender, 203rd overall (7th round)
Gabriel Bouthillette was ranked 15th in North American Goaltenders by
Central Scouting. He is the first goaltender that Anaheim has drafted
since
2001 (Martin Gerber, 232nd overall). A product of the Quebec butterfly
goaltending factory, Bouthillette was the top rookie goaltender in the
QMJHL
in 2003-04. A large goalie (6’4″, 200 pounds), he covers a lot of the
net
but despite his size he still possesses good mobility. He played back
up for
the Gatineau Olympiques, a team that ended up competing for the
Memorial
Cup. His record was an impressive 17-2-4 and his 2.20 GAA was tops in
the
league for goalies appearing in 20 games or more. Meanwhile, his .907
save percentage was 10th in the league for netminders appearing in 20 games or more and
his
three shutouts tied him for second in the league. Bouthillette was also tied
for
league lead with 3 assists. He was traded to the Acadie-Bathurst Titan
after
the season ended where he will have a shot at taking over the starting
reigns in place of the departed Adam Russo.

Matt Christie, Center, 236th overall (8th round)
Matt Christie was ranked 109th in North American Skaters by Central
Scouting. Although he lacks size (5’10”, 192 pounds), Christie is very
talented offensively. He led the University of Miami in goals as a
freshman
with 21 and was named to the CCHA All-Rookie Team. He also led the CCHA
in
power play goals (six in conference play and eight overall). His size
holds
him back a bit, but he is fearless and has an acute ability to find
open
ice. Next season he will be called upon to provide more offense for the
Redhawks as well as provide leadership and improve his defensive
play.

Janne Pesonen, Right Wing, 269th overall (9th round)
A 22-year-old forward with the 2003-04 Finnish Elite League champions,
Karpat Oulu, Pesonen was named rookie of the year. Although slight in
stature (5’11” and 180 pounds), Pesonen is a sniper (in 56 games he had
17
goals and 13 assists), who plays an all-weather game. He will play in
traffic but isn’t much of a force; his real skill are his ability to be
in the right place at the right time and wrist a puck into the back of the net. He skates well and is willing to back check, although his defensive play
does need work. He also needs to improve his decision making. He isn’t
ready to compete for a spot on the Ducks just yet, but showed promise in his first year in the Finnish Elite League.


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