Recently a group of Mighty Ducks of Anaheim prospects competed in the
2nd annual rookie tournament against teams from the Los Angeles Kings, the
Phoenix Coyotes, and the San Jose Sharks. The tournament was hosted at Disney ICE, Anaheim’s practice facility and it saw the host team walk away with the championship.
Although the Ducks team lost their first game in overtime to the Kings
(3-2), the young group bounced back quickly to down the Sharks the next
day (7-2). Anaheim could not keep that momentum going into
their game against Phoenix and they fell 4-2. This left Anaheim and San Jose
with an identical number of points; however the goal differential was in
Anaheim’s favor (ten goals to nine). Therefore, Anaheim was headed to
the championship match against a strong Los Angeles team, who were seeing
second consecutive year in the final.
Anaheim made up for the earlier defeat and physically dominated a
tired Kings team. Curtis Glencross tallied 3 goals and added an assist
to lead the Ducks to a 7-2 victory over the Kings, winning the championship.
Ryan Getzlaf, Center – The most poised player for the Ducks, he seemed to always seem to find Glencross on the ice, with a tournament leading 6 assists. Although Getzlaf didn’t dominate the tournament on the same level as his linemate, he showed he is ready for NHL action. Everything else that he needs to work on can be done at the NHL level. He has size and skill and is hard to knock off the puck; Getzlaf even saw time on the point of the power play, showcasing his versatility.
Corey Perry, Right Wing – The third member of the dominant Ducks line, Perry also looks to be NHL ready. He was a wizard stick handling on the ice, and any worries about his skating should be banished. He was skating circles around opposing defenders. He still needs to improve his upper body strength, especially if he wants to keep playing his game. He described himself to Hockey’s Future as a player who likes “to work in the corners and go to the front of the net with authority and bang in those loose pucks for
what they call garbage goals”. Also some concerns were noted about his
consistency and how he’d be invisible before suddenly producing a great
chance. Perry scored two goals and added another two assists for four
points in four games.
Tim Brent, Center – Possibly the best Ducks player in the slot,
Brent chipped in many different ways and saw time on the penalty kill. Brent was
signed just prior to the tournament, after being drafted twice by
Anaheim. He blames the ordeal on a lying agent and recognizes how serious the
Ducks were about him and how much of a chance he has.
Aaron Rome, Defense – A solid pickup from the Kings
organization, Rome’s key skill is positioning in the defensive zone. He was strong
controlling the puck at the point and cleared the zone well. He also
was very quick backwards, an important attribute for
Curtis Glencross, Left Wing – The top player for Anaheim was
easily this recent free agent signee. He was on the top line with top
prospects Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf for the extent of the tournament and
showed promising chemistry with these important pieces of Anaheim’s future. He
was determined and tenacious in his play, the first Duck into the zone and
the first Ducks back-checking. His leadership and assertiveness no doubt
pushed others on his team to do better. Reports from Alaska about his
body-checking prowess were not over-rated, and with 8 points in 4 games (including a
tournament leading 6 goals), Glencross served notice that he’s ready to
make an impact.
Pierre Parenteau, Right Wing – A creative player, he showed a
bit of an encouraging mean streak. He has great hands and plenty of
speed and says that the key things he needs to work on is getting stronger
Joel Perrault, Center – He could be ready to make the next step
as soon as the forthcoming season. An excellent skater, he’ll be counted
on a lot with AHL affiliate Cincinnati. He describes himself as a player who plays at both
ends of the ice. “I have to use my speed every night. I’m tall but not the
biggest guy on the ice. I have to use my speed, my vision.”
Shane O’Brien, Defense – O’Brien could be ready for an NHL call-up soon.
He still needs to develop his offensive game, but is currently an
excellent hard-nosed blueliner, who takes care of things in his own end and
clears the zone effectively. He has plenty of upside and could be a surprise. He
says the best aspect of his game is “I skate well for a big guy, and I can
move the puck, play some power play and play physical. If a fight needs to
be fought then I’ll do it. I’m an all-around defenseman, and when people
think of me. I see the ice well and can make the first pass.”
Dustin Penner, Left Wing – Penner may need some time before
he’ll make an impact, but he has plenty of intriguing talent. He needs to put
all the tools of being a power forward together before he’ll make too much
of an impact. He has great size, a quick shot and excellent playmaking
skills, just needs more seasoning and experience.
Nathan Saunders, Defense – A big defenseman, he displayed some
good positioning as well as willingness to drop the gloves. He was also a
good shot blocker.
Jordan Smith, Defense – Smith kept everyone on the ice honest, dropping the gloves a multitude of times over the course of the tournament in defense of his teammates. Confident in his own abilities, Smith describes the best part of his
game as “competing every night and wanting to win. It’s something you can’t
teach, and it’s something that I have. If you don’t have that burning desire,
maybe you should take up something else.” An agitating pest on the blueline,
he was also solid defensively. The 2004 draftee turns 19 in November.
Juha Alen, Defense – Alen displayed plenty of guts, playing hard
physical hockey and coming to the defense of smaller teammates. He
needed to make an impact make sure he still had a job in Cincinnati and he did
exactly that. He plays the puck well and has plenty of untapped potential.
Gabriel Bouthillette, Goaltender – Bouthillette played solid, if
unspectacular for the Ducks. H showed a quick glove, throughout the tournament. One
notable occasion was a key grab in the first game vs. Los Angeles to keep
Igor Pohanka, Center – Pohanka remains a work in progress. He
has great size and a willingness to use it but still needs to add strength
and improve his skating. He showed great hustle and determination
throughout the tournament and also was good on faceoffs.
Joel Stepp, Left Wing – He also needed to make an impression to
guarantee his future. A slick player, he prowled the slot area
effectively and also showed some skill with wraparounds. He could see NHL time as a
checking-line player and a penalty killer sometime in his future.
Zenon Konopka, Center – Konopka really endeared himself by showing
plenty of hustle and determination. He played a pest role, trying to throw others
off their game and he could see himself on the fourth line eventually if he
keeps it up.
All the players on tryout contracts were released following the
Andrew Canzanello, Defense – Not overly large, he displayed some
shifty moves and a willingness to make them. He still requires development.
Andrew Gibbons, Right Wing – Only 18, he has potential. Determined to make an impact, he played aggressively.
Brent Kelly, Center – He played solid but was unspectacular.
Mathieu Poitras, Goaltender – Could be an AHL/ECHL netminder.
He can’t handle NHL speed at this point, but plays a solid butterfly and has
Brad Staubitz, Defense – Played a game similar to teammate
Jordan Smith, although not as talented.
After the rookie tournament, Anaheim assigned 23 players to Cincinnati,
including 17 returning players. Notable returnees include Joffrey
Lupul, Stanislav Chistov, Mark Popovic and Ilya Bryzgalov.
Cincinnati’s training camp begins on September 29th and their 2004-05
season starts on October 13th in Utah.
Bouthillette, Getzlaf, Perry, Saunders and Smith were returned to their
respective CHL junior teams after the conclusion of the rookie
tournament. Before returning to Canada, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf both signed
three-year entry level contracts.
Anaheim has extended its affiliation agreement with the San Diego
Gulls of the ECHL. The agreement was established for the 2003-04 season,
the Gulls first year in the ECHL. Last season, Ducks prospects
Igor Pohanka, Brian Gornick (no longer with the organization) and Eddie
Ferhi saw time with San Diego.
Kevin Forbes, Josh Brewster, Jeff Dahlia, Dave Rainer and John
Logue contributed to this article.
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