The Anaheim Ducks entered the 2012 NHL Draft in the enviable position of having an excellent second-half record, offensive talent at each level of their organization and an outstanding draft position, selecting sixth in each of the first two rounds.
They drafted heavily on defense, particularly defensive defensemen in the later rounds. While some of their selections were on the older side, they took mostly players with relatively distant ETA's and pooled heavily from the NCAA and Swedish pro ranks yet again. The dominant themes of their draft seemed to be size and character.
Hampus Lindholm, D – Rogle Jr. (SWE Jr.)
First round, sixth overall
6-2, 194 lbs.
Lindholm competed for Rogle’s junior and senior Allsvenskan clubs, coming on strong in the second half of the season. He projects as a puck-moving defenseman with NHL size, solid mobility and respectable defensive ability. Lindholm was projected in the 20's in many mock drafts, but some scouts identified him as an appreciating commodity as the draft neared.
Yet even Lindholm was surprised that he was selected a No. 6 overall. In a top 10 that featured eight defenseman, one could not identify Lindholm as the most excellent in any particular area. That said, his well-rounded ability, physical maturity and growing professional experience may have been attractive to the Ducks.
Losing out on Justin Schultz and trading Lubomir Visnovsky did not seem to put pressure on the Ducks to draft a player who would be ready immediately. Lindholm said he would likely return to Rogle for the final year of his contract. He also said that it was not set in stone, rather that it was subject to change if he could begin the season in Anaheim. He will most likely be in training camp vying for a roster spot.
Lindholm was easily the biggest surprise of a top 10 that also featured late risers at Nos. 8 and 10 overall. He addresses a positional need to be sure,but so did literally a dozen other players selected in the first round. As with any high, off-the-board pick, this one is sure to draw plenty of scrutiny over the course of Lindholm’s professional development.
Nicolas Kerdiles, LW – USNTDP U-18
Second round, 36th overall
6-2, 201 lbs.
A two-way power forward in the making, Kerdiles is a local product that fell in love with hockey in the known hotbed of Irvine. An unlikely passion has taken him near the top level, where the Ducks selected him as he headed into his freshman year at Wisconsin.
The Ducks were high on Kerdiles’ character and indeed he carried himself confidently. A well-spoken, mature 18-year old with a commitment to improving his conditioning and skills, Kerdiles seems to possess plenty of intangibles.
On the ice, he could become a solid two-way player with plenty of bulk. He said he most admired Mike Modano growing up, although Kerdiles’ game is quite different. Just the same, coaches and teammates have praised his leadership and ability to elevate his game in important situations.
Kerdiles, like a number of 2012 Ducks picks, may have a fairly steep learning curve or at least longer development period. In time, he could develop into an effective player along the boards and in front of the net, where he scores most of his goals. He also seems to be a solid teammate who sets a strong example.
Frederik Andersen, G – Frolunda (SEL)
Third round, 87th overall
6-4, 247 lbs.
Andersen is a 1989 birth year, making him perhaps the most mature, advanced player in the draft. The Dane made the jump to Sweden’s top pro league and had a dominant season with a .941 save percentage and seven shutouts in 39 appearances.
He led the SEL in save percentage, goals-against average (1.67) and his seven shutouts broke Henrik Lundqvist’s club record. He is a big battler with a strong mental makeup and a long reach, Anderson also handles the puck effectively.
This all sounds promising except that Andersen was already drafted in 2010 by the Carolina Hurricanes, though he did not sign as a seventh-rounder. It seems unlikely that Andersen would leave the prominence and paycheck of being an elite goalie in the SEL for an entry-level deal and a minor-league gig in North America unless he were guaranteed a spot with the big club.
He has been called the best top-level pro goalie not playing in North America, but there is nothing suggesting that he will come to the continent to stay. If the Ducks think he can become a backup in short order, it could happen. He will attend development camp this month. Still, he is even more likely to remain in Europe this year than Lindholm and may never arrive given his success in Sweden.
Roy is a small player with big numbers, leading the entire USHL in scoring last year by a wide margin. The Quebec native’s 104 points were16 more than any other player in the league.
Next season, he will depart the Lincoln Stars to go to Brown University. In need of physical development and consistent match-ups against top competition, the Ducks hope he will find both competing in the ECAC.
Undersized for a center, one wonders if a conversion to the wing may be in the slick puckhandler’s future. Blessed with outstanding coordination and nimble hands, he seems to be the kind of player that will either turn into a big scorer or a bust.
Like several of the Ducks’ picks, Roy’s arrival in the NHL seems to project relatively far into the future. Even so, his offensive talent makes him a fine value at the very bottom of the top 100.
Andrew O’Brien, D – Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)
Fourth round, 108th overall
6-3, 200 lbs.
O’Brien is a big, mobile defenseman with a very projectable frame. In the past two seasons, he has made the conversion from a power forward to a stay-at-home defenseman. His puck skills as a forward will serve him on the blue line but they have not yet carried over in Chicoutimi. He barely broke double digits in points over the course of 55 games last year but seemed confident he could improve considerably on his 10-point total.
He does not avoid confrontation, relishing the physical side of the game. Unlike most converted forwards, he has also quickly adjusted his attitude and sharpened up his defensive positioning. His physique also impressed scouts, as he possesses NHL size already with room to fill out further.
O’Brien said he admired Alexander Edler and would consider himself a similar player. Capable of keying rushes at one end and throwing the body at the other, the similarities have already begun to manifest.
For the immediate future, O’Brien plans to finish out his junior career with the Sagueneens. As he continues to gain coordination, strength and comfort in his new role, he could develop into the sort of rugged defenseman that has eluded the Ducks in recent years.
Brian Cooper, D – Fargo Force (USHL)
Fifth round, 127th overall
5-10, 181 lbs.
Cooper does not appear to possess NHL size but he plays a big game, showing solid composition and a willingness to agitate as well as sacrifice his body. He should be able to fill out his frame a bit more to facilitate his style at a higher level as he takes his game to the University of Nebraksa-Omaha next season.
The Mavericks and Ducks alike were attracted to his biggest asset, his skating. He possesses a fluid, efficient stride and strong lateral agility. Cooper could develop into a strong puck carrier who can breakout effectively, although he's not projected as a big point producer.
Also attractive is Cooper’s level of competitiveness. He is as resourceful as he is rugged in negating rushes into his zone, battling consistently.
Cooper is another player who will need some experience and seasoning but the Ducks seemed to make it clear that they wanted to add toughness on defense in this draft, even if they had to wait a while to reap the rewards of their investment.
Helgesen projects as another project but his quick ascension through the junior ranks and adaptive qualities may make him an intriguing longshot. He has a projectable frame and after a stint as a grinding forward, he has played the sort of shutdown role on the back end that the Ducks would like to see him play down the line.
He came from the same junior program as Ryan Getzlaf and while the first half of his season was underwhelming, the second half saw him gain both consistency and confidence. He even showed flashes of puck skills, suggesting that he could provide a bit of offense once he grows into his game and his body.
His skill set still needs refinement but his decision making has been touted as above average, as has his mobility. Despite his being underutilized and overlooked early in the season, Helgesen showed a patient, persistent approach to his role with the Hitmen that paid dividends. His responsibility expanded and the team fared phenomenally in the second half of the season.
Another resilient, competitive player with a low profile but high character, Helgesen fits the mold that the Ducks seemed to use in making their picks this season.
Jaycob Megna, D – University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks (NCAA)
Seventh round, 210th overall
6-6, 202 lbs.
Megna was another of Anaheim’s older selections, as the 1992 birth year nearly went undrafted. He has towering height and a frame that could pack on bulk to boot. He will continue his NCAA career at Nebraska-Omaha next season alongside his older brother Jayson, a forward, and incoming freshman Cooper, another Ducks 2012 draftee.
As one might expect from a player an eyelash away from Mr. Nobody, Megna has a fairly limited shot at reaching the NHL. He does have size and character, two things the Ducks coveted in this draft. Megna has been a superlative student during his time in the USHL and should carry that academic commitment forward.
Rounding out the Ducks draft class, he is yet another long-term project that does not have star potential. However, if he can develop physically in terms of strength and coordination, he could be a fine find at this very latest of draft positions.
Megna is also a second-generation pro athlete; his father was a defensive back for the NFL’s New Orleans Saints, Washington Redkins and Miami Dolphins.