Although this season there is a diminished CHL contingent in the Ducks organization compared to previous years, some of Anaheim’s most important building blocks for the future are in the league. This includes two of Anaheim’s top five prospects and two of their 2004 NHL Entry Draft selections. Below is a look at how Anaheim’s CHL prospects have been faring so far this season.
Ryan Getzlaf, C – Selected 19th overall in 2003
He was supposed to challenge for an NHL spot this year, however the NHL lockout thwarted those plans. So, instead, Getzlaf is playing his fourth season with the Calgary Hitmen and this year he has the added duty of
being team captain, taking over from the departed Patrick Wellar. He has taken the
responsibility full on, leading his team offensively, as well as being tied for fourth in WHL scoring. The Hitmen lineup features 10 NHL draft
picks this season, however they found themselves struggling as the season began.
They have since rebounded slightly to have the fifth best winning percentage
in the league. Getzlaf’s play mirrors the play of his team; he started slowly before catapulting himself up the scoring leaders over the past
few weeks. Named to play for Team WHL in the 2004 CHL Canada-Russia Series,
Getzlaf is also likely to return to play for Team Canada at the 2005 World
Junior Hockey Championships in Grand Forks, North Dakota this winter.
Corey Perry, RW – Selected 28th overall in 2003
What else can be said about Corey Perry and the London Knights? The team is undefeated after 18 games (17 wins and 1 tie), an OHL record for the
longest undefeated streak from the start of a season. Perry is the OHL’s active
career scoring leader and he continues to pile on the points at an astonishing rate, leading both his team and the league in scoring. The
OHL player of the month for October, he’s second to only super prospect
Sidney Crosby in scoring across the CHL. Perry also signed an
deal before the lockout began, but right now his focus is on closer
continuing the streak, continuing to put up the points and making Team
Canada for the 2005 WJHCs. He was named to Team OHL for the 2004 CHL
Canada-Russia Series and he is serving as an assistant captain for the
Jordan Smith, D – Selected 39th overall in 2004
Smith’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds aren’t having the same fortunes as Perry’s Knights. The Greyhounds started the season with a dismal record of two wins, six losses and one tie before replacing head coach Marty Abrams.
Abrams was replaced by former Anaheim Mighty Ducks coach, Craig Hartsburg, who left his job as an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Flyers to take the position with the Greyhounds. Since the change behind the bench, the ‘Hounds have won four games, lost two and tied two. Smith’s play has mirrored the play of his team, as can be seen with his plus/minus statistics: before the change, he was -8, and he has been +6 since.
Smith leads all blueliners on his team in scoring. He was named to Team OHL for the 2004 CHL Canada-Russia Series and he is serving as an assistant
captain for the Greyhounds.
|Sault Ste. Marie||17||1||5||6||22||-2|
Nathan Saunders, D – Selected 119th overall in 2003
Once again, Moncton is icing a strong competitive team, and once again, Nathan Saunders is a key part of their blueline. The Wildcats find themselves atop the QMJHL standings and ranked third in the CHL.
Saunders is a main part of why Moncton on average only let’s in just over two goals a game in the high-scoring QMJHL. He keeps opponents honest and is one of the leaders in penalty minutes in the league, as well as having one of the top
plus/minus in the Q. He is also second among defensemen on his team in scoring. He was named to Team QMJHL for the 2004 CHL Canada-Russia Series and he is serving as an assistant captain for the Wildcats.
Gabriel Bouthillette, G – Drafted 203rd overall in 2004
Like Perry and Smith in the OHL, Anaheim’s two QMJHL prospects are on teams
that are on polar opposites of the standings. The Acadie-Bathurst Titan finds themselves at the bottom of the Q league, with just five wins in
22 games. However, the old theory with developing goaltenders is to get them to
see lots of action, something that certainly rings true with
Bouthillette. He’s third in the league in minutes played and he sees on average 33
shots per game. His goals against average and save percentage are nothing
extraordinary, especially when comparing them to last year’s play with
the Gatineau Olympiques. The hope is Bouthillette will use this opportunity
to develop his game, instead of losing his confidence and regressing. The
talent is there however, as can be seen in his 39-save shutout of the Halifax Mooseheads in early October.
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