Anaheim Ducks 2012 draft preview

By Andrew Knoll

Photo: Selected 39th overall in 2011, John Gibson quickly established himself as a top goaltender in the OHL. (Aaron Bell/OHL Images).

 

The Anaheim Ducks dug a deep hole in the first three months of their 2011-12 campaign. They were one of the league's most dangerous teams in the second half, displaying the form that allowed them to host a playoff series just a season earlier. Now, a roster highlighted by stars and a franchise with tremendous prospect depth, Anaheim finds itself picking No. 6 and No. 36 overall. The Ducks dealt away their middle-round picks but were fortunate enough to keep their first two selections, which are much higher than the talent level in their organization might suggest.

Top 10 Prospects:

1. Kyle Palmieri, RW
2. Emerson Etem, RW
3. Justin Schultz, D
4. Peter Holland, C
5. Devante Smith-Pelly, W
6. Sami Vatanen, D
7. John Gibson, G
8. Rikard Rakell, F
9. William Karlsson, C
10. Max Friberg, W

Team Needs

The Ducks have not yet pieced together defensive depth at any level of their organization. With "bridge" players-veterans like Lubo Visnovsky and Toni Lydman-playing big roles with the big club, a lack of blue chips at the minor pro levels and the potential loss of Justin Schultz to free agency, it seems as though the Ducks will focus their draft and free-agent efforts on the blue lines.

Organizational Strengths

The Ducks have loads of skill in their system, including Finnish pro defenseman Sami Vatanen and a wealth of promising forwards. They could easily round out their group up front with prospects like Kyle Palmieri, Emerson Etem, and Peter Holland, in addition to second-year standout Devante Smith-Pelly. They stocked under those players with a trio of Swedish scorers last season. They also appear to have a solid future in goal once Kitchener's John Gibson wraps up his junior career.

Organizational Weaknesses

Overall defensive depth and team grit remain thin in the Ducks organization. Defensive-minded forwards, rugged rearguards and any player who can add a little sandpaper to the Ducks' lineup would be of value. Once a team full of tough guys and shutdown players, the Ducks have shifted to a high-tempo, light-checking team. A bit of balance could go a long way, especially as some of their top players retire or move on.

Draft Tendencies

The Ducks are a bit hard to pin down but last season they drafted heavily from Europe. They have further diversified their holdings by picking an increasing number of collegians in recent years. Their top pick will likely be a defenseman out of the CHL, perhaps like out of the WHL, but overall Anaheim has drafted with a mind toward where a player could wind up as opposed to where they come from.

The Ducks own the 6th, 36th, 87th, 97th, 108th, 127th, and 187th picks in the draft.

Hockey's Future Staff Mock Draft Results:

Matthew Dumba, D, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)

Dumba suits the Ducks from a need standpoint as well as a style perspective. Mobile and productive, he could mesh effectively with the skilled, up-tempo roster in Anaheim. While there are likely a handful of defenseman of which those things could be said in a deep class of rearguards, Dumba also makes the Ducks tougher. He not only uses his speed to create offense, he also finds the puck on defense and has a knack for the big hit. In a breakout season, Dumba has also shown the ability to elevate his game at critical moments. Much like Brian Campbell or P.K. Subban, Dumba projects as a very strong two-way defender who can make timely, dynamic contributions to his club.

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