Mighty Ducks Top 20 prospects

By Kevin Forbes

The Top 20 ranking is based on long-term impact on the hockey club and is not a reflection of who is closest to making the NHL. Players are assigned a grade per HF Criteria. Other factors that
help determine ranking order to varying degrees include: player age, draft
position, current league and team quality, location (North America or
Europe) and foreseeable opportunity.

Key: Rank (former rank), name, position – age – current team (league).

1. (1), Ryan Getzlaf, C – 19 – Calgary Hitmen
(WHL)
Grade: 8.0B, Projection: First line forward.
Ryan Getzlaf has had an eventful 2004-05 season already.
He was considered a lock to make the Mighty Ducks roster before the
lockout waylaid those plans. Upon his return to Calgary for his fourth year
with the Hitmen, he was named team captain, but both Getzlaf and the team
underperformed. His own frustration was apparent with a number of
misconduct penalties and led to him being stripped of the “C” in mid-November.
He regained the captaincy in December, however, reports continue to
circulate about Getzlaf’s negative energy. Rumors abound about the possibility of
his presence being a cancer in the dressing room and that he lacks effort
and dedication. Getzlaf has not been as dominant offensively as was
expected in Calgary, but even after missing a number of games due to the World
Juniors, he still has an 11-point lead as the Hitmen’s top scorer. His defensive
play is similarly tops on the team, with Getzlaf leading the club in
plus/minus and tied for the lead in short-handed goals. The final verdict on
Getzlaf is that he has NHL-ready skill, as long as his head and his heart are up
to the task.

WJC review: Getzlaf improved each game he played with Team Canada, culminating
with being awarded player of the game in the gold medal game. He was again
paired with Jeff Carter (PHI), only this year the other wing was occupied by
Hitmen teammate Andrew Ladd (CAR). Second in tournament scoring with 12
points, it was his defensive game that drew him the most praise. Getzlaf led the
tournament with a +14. He displayed effort and determination that
wasn’t normally seen with Calgary and hopefully that’s an indication of things
to come.

2. (3), Ladislav Smid, D – 18 – HC Bili Tygri Liberec
(CZE)
Grade: 8.0B, Projection: Top pairing
blueliner.
Before leaving to join the Czech Republic’s Under-20 junior team, Smid
was part of one of the key blueline units with Liberec. Paired with
Vlademar Jirus for a second season, Smid is seeing time on the power play and
killing penalties. In 25 games with the Czech senior Extraleague team, Smid
tallied a goal and two assists. Due to his strong play, he was considered to
join the Czech senior national team to take part in the Karjala Cup in
Finland. Instead, he was named to the Under-20 team and participated in the
Under-20 tournament in Sweden, prior to the World Juniors in North Dakota.
Playing in a senior league dotted with locked out NHL players has helped Smid
improve considerably. He has been a standout as the top defenseman with the
Under-20 team, strong at both ends of the ice and seeing time in all
situations.

WJC review: The only returning blueliner from last year’s squad
for the Czechs, Smid was one of only four Czech players who played during
the previous year. Tied for second among the blueliners in scoring, Smid
was called upon to be a leader and a defensive presence. He also saw
significant time on the team’s power play and penalty kill units. Despite being
third on the team in shots, Smid ended the tournament with just two assists.

3. (4), Corey Perry, RW – 19 – London Knights
(OHL)
Grade: 7.5B, Projection: 2nd line scoring
forward.
With Corey Perry in the lineup, the London Knights are 28-0-2. Even
after missing six games and counting with the World Juniors, he is still the
OHL leading scorer and second in scoring in the CHL. Those two facts
indicate how strong the Peterborough native has been playing was playing before
he left to join Team Canada. Currently at the World Juniors in North
Dakota,
Perry’s down-low play and nose for the net has served him well. The
unbeaten streak may be over back home in London, but Perry just keeps on
scoring. There are some concerns about how his skills will transfer over to the
NHL, when the time comes. The room he is afforded with London won’t be as
easily gained in the big leagues, and at present, his skating has not improved
enough to allow him to evade defenders easily.

WJC review: An injury to Islander prospect Jeremy Colliton
allowed Corey Perry to play alongside of the only player in the CHL with more
points than him (Sidney Crosby) and an established NHLer (Patrice
Bergeron). While the performances of his linemates outshone his own play, Perry
put up a respectable seven points (two goals and five assists) and played well distributing the puck and making things happen down low. However, this time in the spotlight only highlighted his need to improve his skating.

4. (7), Chris Kunitz, LW – 25 – Cincinnati Mighty Ducks
(AHL)
Grade: 7.0B,
Projection: Two-way winger.
It’s been a tough year for Chris Kunitz so far. The season had barely
begun when he broke his jaw, forcing him to miss 19 games. He had only
returned for a handful of games when a dangerous high-stick from Cleveland’s
Garrett Stafford (SJ), took him out of the lineup for another
three games. Stafford was suspended for two games as a result of the
incident. Kunitz’s offensive prowess that had him gunning for the AHL rookie scoring lead last season is still there and despite all the time missed, he is currently tied for
team lead in power play goals. Proving to be a clutch player, he has also
tallied two game-winning goals and a shorthanded marker. He’s a key part of
Cincinnati’s attack when he’s in the lineup.

5. (5), Mark Popovic, D – 22 – Cincinnati Mighty
Ducks
(AHL)
Grade: 7.0A,
Projection: Top four blueliner.
Strong at both ends of the ice, Popovic is polishing his game and biding his time as the NHL lockout draws on. Drafted as a purely offensive blueliner, Popovic plays a more
complete game now and has served as a leader on the backend for Cincy for three
seasons. He sees time in all situations, often matching up against the
opposition’s top line and is still one of the only players in
Cincinnati with a positive plus/minus. Popovic has plenty of confidence and isn’t
afraid to play a physical game.

6. (NR), Michael Holmqvist, LW – 25 – Cincinnati Mighty
Ducks (AHL)
Grade: 7.0B,
Projection: Two-way winger.
Due to changes in the Hockey Future’s prospect criteria, Michael
Holmqvist has re-emerged on the top 20 list. Excelling at both ends of the ice,
he is using this opportunity to make an impression for an NHL spot when play
resumes. He’s been an important part of the offensive attack for
Cincinnati. He has been driving to the net to score goals while also using his
large frame a bit more. Both of these factors are huge improvements that bode
well for his future. With his injury concerns a thing of the past, his next
challenge is to stick at the NHL level, and time is running out.

7. (6), Tim Brent, C – 20 – Cincinnati Mighty Ducks
(AHL)
Grade: 6.5B,
Projection: 2nd-3rd line center.
Tim Brent probably just wants to play hockey at this point. Four games
into his rookie year in the AHL, Brent suffered a high ankle sprain that put
him out of action for 20 games. Sadly, in his first game back, he
suffered a nerve injury in his ankle that again had him missing time. The good
news with Brent is that he is once again healthy and has returned to the
lineup, scoring his first AHL goal in his first game back in action. Brent has
played well in the short amount of time that he has been on the ice so
far. He’ll be called upon to be a second or third line pivot with Cincinnati
as well as see some time on special teams. His offensive prowess is coming
along, however, missing so much time as his pro career begins could set
his development back.

8. (NR), Alexei Smirnov, LW – 22 – Cincinnati Mighty
Ducks
(AHL)
Grade: 6.5B,
Projection: 2nd-3rd line forward.
Like Holmqvist, Alexei Smirnov has rejoined the top 20 due to prospect
criteria change at Hockey’s Future. His year has been full of promise,
although he’s battled the injury bug as well. Used mainly as a two-way
center in Cincinnati, Smirnov’s NHL future will no doubt be on the
wing. He’s seen time in all situations and boasts a power play goal, a
shorthanded goal and a game winning goal to show for it. He’s also one of the few
members of the team with a positive plus/minus. Although Smirnov may
never be the player he was hoped to become when drafted, he has shown a
willingness to use his size and play with some grit. He’ll continue to
be an interesting project for Anaheim.

9. (14), Joel Perrault, C – 21 – Cincinnati Mighty Ducks
(AHL)
Grade: 6.0B,
Projection: 3rd line forward.
Joel Perrault has been working hard to make himself stand out among the
players in Cincinnati. He’s been fairly impressive in doing so as well,
tied for second in team scoring and appearing in all of the games. He’s also
tied for second in power play goals and is fourth in shots. He’s added
significant muscle to his frame over the years and is not as vulnerable during
physical play. He’s also done plenty of work to improve his defensive play as
well. He’s been able to find ways to get on the score sheet despite the
arrival of players who would under other circumstances be in the NHL.

10. (15), Vladimir Korsunov, D – 21 – Spartek Moscow
(RSL)
Grade: 6.5B,
Projection: Top four blueliner.
The real question with Vladimir Korsunov is when will Anaheim bring him
over to North America for a look? After helping Spartek Moscow return to the
Super League last season, Korsunov is showing his offensive game this
season. A change in the team’s style of play has allowed him to join
the rush more often and he’s even seen time as a winger when a large number
of his team’s forwards were out with injury. A versatile, two-way defender, the only thing holding him back is his skating, which shouldn’t be as apparent on smaller North American ice. He has plenty of size and skill and plays a strong physical style in his own end. However, with the number of blueline prospects that Anaheim now has in their system, will he ever bring his
game across the ocean?

11. (20), Jordan Smith, D – 19 – Sault-Ste. Marie
Greyhounds (OHL)
Grade: 7.0B,
Projection: Top four blueliner.
Jordan Smith and the Greyhounds were close to dreadful to start the
season. Winning only two of their first nine games, they fired their head coach
and hired on former Mighty Ducks coach Craig Hartsburg. Their fortunes
have improved since then and so have the fortunes of Smith. The gritty
blueliner leads ‘Hounds defensemen in scoring as well as being one of the only
players with a positive plus/minus. So far this year he has two goals on the
power play and is third on the team in penalty minutes. The future is
bright for this 2004 entry draft selection.

12. (17), Shane O’Brien, D – 21 – Cincinnati Mighty
Ducks
(AHL)
Grade: 6.5B,
Projection: 2nd pairing defenseman.
A physical force for Cincinnati, Shane O’Brien has been extremely
impressive in his short time in the organization. He plays a hard-nosed game on
the blueline and leads the team in penalty minutes. But that is not to say
that he is purely a goon. O’Brien moves the puck well and as a result has
been seeing some time on the power play. His game requires some more
polishing, but he may arrive sooner then originally expected.

13. (16), Brandon Rogers, D – 22 – University of
Michigan
Wolverines (CCHA)
Grade: 7.0C,
Projection: 2nd pairing defenseman.
Brandon Rogers has worked hard over the years to fill out his game and
as a result, he is a very complete product. This year, he has been focusing
on improving his defensive game and physical play and as a result, he
leads the Wolverines in penalty minutes and is second on the team in plus minus.
He’s an important part of Michigan’s power play unit (tied for 1st in the
CCHA) and penalty kill squad (5th in the CCHA). A leader and solid at both
ends of the ice, Rogers will graduate after this season in hopes of turning
pro.

14. (9), Curtis Glencross, LW – 22 – Cincinnati Mighty
Ducks
(AHL)
Grade: 6.5C,
Projection: Third line forward.
Another member of the wounded Baby Ducks, Glencross has missed 13 games
and counting with a high ankle sprain. When he’s on the ice, he has so far
been unable to replicate the magic that occurred at the Pacific Division
rookie tournament where he led Anaheim’s prospects to victory. His offensive
heroics may have been muted but there’s still plenty of time for him to
develop. Glencross skates well and is making his name known around the
league for his hard checks. Both attributes are something Anaheim would
love to have in their lineup.

15. (8), Aaron Rome, D – 21 – Cincinnati Mighty Ducks
(AHL)
Grade: 6.0B,
Projection: 3rd pairing defenseman.
A strong player with plenty of promise, Rome may need to settle down at
times. He sometimes tries to do too much in his own end and that gets
him into trouble. A two-way defender, he’s not afraid to get involved
physically or drop the gloves. He’s being brought along slowly in Cincinnati and
he’s behind a number of other standout defensemen in the organization, but
he should have a solid future.

16. (19), Nathan Saunders, D – 19 – Moncton Wildcats
(QMJHL)
Grade: 6.0B,
Projection: 3rd pairing defenseman.
This rugged defenseman has been called on to do it all for Moncton. A
quick look at the QMJHL standings will show that he has done his job well.
Saunders, who has yet to miss a game, leads all Wildcat defensemen in
points, leads the team in plus/minus and penalty minutes. He’s a leader
on the blueline for the top team in the QMJHL and plays in all situations.
Never one to back down, Saunders needs to work on his skating and puck
control.

17. (13), Kurtis Foster, D – 23 – Cincinnati Mighty
Ducks
(AHL)
Grade: 6.5C,
Projection: 3rd pairing defenseman.
Kurtis Foster has been a key power play contributor in Cincinnati. He
has a big, powerful shot and he unloads it often (ranking third on the team in
shots). He leads Duck blueliners in scoring and the rest of his game is coming
along. His physical play has improved, although he could use his size more and
he continues to work on his defensive coverage. He could be in competition
for an NHL spot when play resumes, but he would be better served if he
progressed a bit more.

18. (11), Shane Hynes, RW – 21 – Cornell University Big
Red
(ECAC)
Grade: 6.0B,
Projection: Third line power forward.
After two years of similar production, Shane Hynes is putting up a few
more points this season. On pace for career high stats, he’s been lucky
enough to avoid the injury bug that plagued him earlier in his career. He plays a
strong, gritty game and has the potential to be a power forward, but
still requires more time. He’ll probably return to Cornell next year for his
senior year of college and will need some time in the minors after
that.

19. (12), Pierre Parenteau, RW – 21 – Cincinnati Mighty
Ducks (AHL)
Grade: 6.0C,
Projection: Third line forward.
Pierre Parenteau is undergoing a trying season in the AHL. The
additional forwards in Cincy have left him fighting for time and his play has been
inconsistent. Parenteau was supposed to provide secondary scoring, but
for a multitude of reasons he has been unable to deliver on that
promise. Regressing a bit this year, his defensive play has dropped off
as well (third worst in team plus/minus). However, there are signs that
this could be just a sophomore slump. Parenteau is tied for second on the
team in power play goals and has been working hard to overcome his slight
stature.

20. (10), Tony Martensson, C – 24 – Linkoping
(SEL)
Grade: 7.0D,
Projection: Third line forward.
Like Jonas Ronnqvist and Jonathan Hedstrom before him, he was misused
in Anaheim’s system and signed a two-year deal with a team back in Sweden
in the offseason. Just staying on the list under the new HF prospect criteria,
Martensson has been playing strong behind established NHL stars like
Brendan Morrison, Mike Knuble and Kristian Huselius with Linkoping. His goal
continues to be playing in the NHL, but he may not have the skill to solidify
himself on a scoring line. At the same time, his style of play doesn’t lend
itself well to be on a checking line or energy line. Martensson’s future is in
question.

No longer a prospect

Ilya Bryzgalov, G – 25 – Cincinnati Mighty Ducks
(AHL)
Grade: 8.0A,
Projection: Starting Netminder.
Ilya Bryzgalov is no longer considered a prospect under Hockey’s
Future’s rules due to age. However, that does not mean the big Russian has turned out a
failure. If not for the NHL lockout, he would certainly be backing up
Jean-Sebastien Giguere in Anaheim. With little left to prove at the AHL level,
Bryzgalov is taking this time to fine tune his general play and continue to improve
his consistency. He took some time away from Cincinnati to play for his
country at the Rosno Cup tournament. Victorious, he also faced off against the
Primus WorldStars, a team of locked out NHL players and did not
embarrass himself. After playing as Russia’s top netminder at the World Cup, he
is being groomed to again play at the World Championships, although
Cincinnati hopes to be in the playoff hunt at that time.

Missing the Cut

Tomas Malec, D – 22 – Cincinnati Mighty Ducks
(AHL)
Grade: 7.0D, Projection: Top six blueliner.
A once-highly touted prospect in the Carolina system, Malec has been
decidedly unimpressive so far in the Ducks organization. His plus/minus
is at the bottom of Cincinnati’s stat sheet and he hasn’t put up
sufficient points to overlook that. He has begun to lose power play time as other
players show more effort and determination on the ice. For a player who
already has NHL experience, Malec could find that he’s fallen too far
down the depth chart when the training camps open up again.

Dustin Penner, LW – 22 – Cincinnati Mighty Ducks
(AHL)
Grade: 6.0C, Projection: Checking forward.
Dustin Penner is a player who has benefited greatly from the injury
woes in Cincinnati. He’s used to opportunity to move up in the lineup and get
extra ice time. The burly winger has been solid at both ends of the ice and
has received some power play duty. He uses his size effectively and he also
has some offensive skill as well. For a big guy, he skates well, but it
could still use some improvement.

Kyle Klubertanz, D – 19 – University of Wisconsin
Badgers
(WCHA)
Grade: 6.0C, Projection: Top six blueliner.
No one expected Kyle Klubertanz to have such an impact as a freshman in
the WCHA. He’s currently one of the top offensive blueliners on one of the
top collegiate teams in the nation. As impressive as that is, there’s still
plenty of work left to do, although thankfully there’s plenty of time
too. Klubertanz is under-sized and needs to add some strength as well as
needing to improve his play in his own end.

Copyright 2005 Hockey’s Future. Do not duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.