The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim narrowly missed out on the draft lottery for the coveted top pick and first dibs on prospect wunderkind Sidney Crosby.
They went to the NHL Entry Draft with the second overall pick for the second time in their 13-year history. Heading to Ottawa,
the talk wasn’t focused on who the Ducks were going to pick, but rather whether or not
new General Manager Brian Burke was going to trade Anaheim’s first rounder. Burke openly discussed the possibility of sending the pick elsewhere for immediate help, or even just to move down in the draft. The Ducks ended up keeping the selection, but the speculation on trading the second overall pick placed the team in the news, which is one of the reasons why Burke was hired.
The Ducks originally had seven draft picks, including the 31st overall acquired in the Prospal trade with Tampa Bay. They had previously traded their fourth rounder to Colorado in the deal that acquired Martin Skoula. As the draft drew nearer, the Ducks traded their 59th overall second rounder to Philadelphia for bruiser Todd Fedoruk. They followed this move with a draft day trade with San Jose in which they acquired the Sharks’ 141st overall fifth rounder for their 193rd overall sixth rounder and the Ducks seventh round selection in the 2006 Entry Draft.
Anaheim’s needs going into the draft were split evenly between gritty forwards and offensive defensemen. They also needed to add depth to a
bare goaltending pipeline. They selected six players in total, including three forwards, two defensemen and a goaltender. All the players selected were
6’0 or taller. For the first time in team history, none of the players selected were from the European leagues, a sign of the reluctance teams have for drafting Europeans with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Four of the players were from the CHL, with two of them from the Ontario Hockey League and the other two from the QMJHL and WHL respectively. Continuing with draft tendencies, Anaheim selected a player from the NCAA. Their final player was chosen from the US National Team Development Program, marking the second year in a row that the Ducks have picked a player from that program.
BOBBY RYAN, RW (Owen Sound Attack, OHL)
2nd overall, 1st round
Height: 6’1 Weight: 213 lbs
When the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim announced their first round selection, it was a little more obvious why they were willing to move the pick and drop a few slots in the draft order. Bobby Ryan was a consensus top five pick in the minds of most hockey analysts, but most had him behind defenseman Jack Johnson and forward Benoit Pouliot. Unable to find a deal, Anaheim went ahead and picked their man.
Ryan is a big power forward who had an outstanding season with the Owen Sound Attack. At times over the 2004-05 season, he was challenging for the OHL scoring title, however in the 2005 CHL Top Prospects Game, he suffered a separated should thanks to Alex Bourret
(ATL) and missed several weeks. Ryan finished the year with 37 goals and 89 points in 62 games and was named an OHL Second Team All-Star. He also led his team with a +30 rating.
Some were surprised when Ryan wasn’t chosen by Team USA for the 2004-05 World Juniors, but he should make a very strong case for inclusion this winter.
Ryan plays strong along the boards and is willing to take punishment in front of the net. He has a combination of size and soft hands that
will be more then welcome in the Ducks system. Although he needs to work on his skating and rounding out his game, given the progress the Ducks have made with Joffrey Lupul, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry since they’ve been drafted, this shouldn’t be too much of a concern. Ryan is slated to become a first line power forward and could develop into a player similar to John Leclair.
Ryan played some of his minor hockey in the Los Angeles area as a member of the Junior Kings program and when asked was excited about returning to California. “I think knowing people in the area, kind of knowing the
lifestyle, so to speak, it’s a little different from most of the other places that the league has. You know, I fell in love with California when I was out there. I’m looking forward to going back.” After being selected, Brian Burke indicated he was impressed with Ryan’s interview and that went a long way towards solidifying the selection.
BRENDAN MIKKELSON, D (Portland Winter Hawks, WHL)
31st overall, 2nd round
Height: 6’2 Weight: 180 lbs
A lot of weight is given in the NHL towards bloodlines. The Ducks just recently signed the Niedermayer brothers, the 2005 draft was dotted with a Stastny, a Sutter, a Staal and a Fritsche, even top pick Sidney Crosby’s father was a Canadiens draft pick. For the Ducks second pick of the draft, Anaheim chose Brendan Mikkelson from the WHL. Mikkelson comes from his own NHL bloodline. His father, Bill, played parts of four seasons in the NHL during the 1970s and holds the unenviable distinction of posting the NHL’s worst single-season
plus/minus with a -81 in 1974-75 with the Washington Capitals in their inaugural season. Meanwhile, his uncle, Jim McFadden played in more then 400 NHL games over the course of
seven seasons in the late 1940s and early 1950s, including winning the Stanley Cup as a member of the 1950 Detroit Red Wings. Mikkelson hopes to follow his family’s NHL footsteps.
A smooth-skating defenseman, Mikkelson was one of the Winter Hawks top defenders last season as a sophomore. He also won gold as a member of Team Canada at the 2004 U-18 World Juniors and followed that up with a silver medal at the 2005 Under-18s. Most of his first two seasons in the WHL were played in the shadow of Atlanta
prospect Braydon Coburn. Now with Coburn going pro, Mikkelson is ready to take over most of his minutes and responsibility. He possesses good offensive instincts, but while his skating is already close to being NHL ready, there is plenty of other parts of his game that still need to develop further. Most importantly, Mikkelson will need to add weight to his frame, in order to stand up to physical play. In 70 games last season, Mikkelson lit the lamp five times and added another 10 assists for 15 points, along with 60 penalty minutes.
JASON BAILEY, RW (US National Team Development Program, Under-18)
63rd overall, 3rd round
Height: 6’0 Weight: 205 lbs
A native of Ottawa, Jason Bailey was chosen by his hometown 67s to play in the OHL but instead opted to get involved with the USNTDP, thanks to his dual citizenship. In 39 games last season, Bailey scored five goals and tallied 11 points in total. He played for Team USA at the Under-18 World Championships, putting up one assist, as the Americans won the gold. Bailey is joining the University of Michigan Wolverines for the 2005-06 season, where he’ll play alongside a familiar face from his time with the USNTDP, defenseman Jack Johnson (Carolina’s first round selection). In 2004, he won gold with Team Ontario in the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. His
former teammate, Andrew Cogliano (Edmonton’s first round selection) will also be playing for Michigan in the fall.
Bailey is a lunch pail and hard hat kind of player. He’s loaded with character and strength and possesses great speed and skating skill. Although his offensive skills aren’t outstanding, he can take care of himself at both ends of the ice and isn’t afraid to grind it out. Bailey never stops working and is well respected in the dressing room as well as being a leader on and off the ice. Bailey projects to be a third liner who plays a shutdown role if he makes it to the NHL.
BOBBY BOLT, LW (Kingston Frontenacs, OHL)
127th overall, 5th round
Height: 6’3 Weight: 219 lbs
The Ducks second “Bobby” of the draft also hails from the Ontario Hockey League. It is possible Anaheim caught their first glimpse of Bolt when he was played eight games with the London Knights in 2003-04 alongside
Ducks prospect, Corey Perry. However, a trade to Kingston benefited him greatly and he played a regular shift with the Frontenacs for his rookie season. In 67 games, Bolt scored 11 goals and had 25 points, as well as serving 92 penalty minutes.
Bolt is still very much a project. He possesses good size and is willing to throw it around, but a lot of his game needs work. He progressed significantly during the 2004-05 season, starting the year on the fourth line and ending it on the second line with some second unit power play duty. This advancement makes some think he could be on the top line duty in Kingston to start the 2005-06 campaign, especially since players like Florida prospect, Anthony Stewart and over-ager Evan Kotsopoulos will have moved on.
BRIAN SALCIDO, D (Colorado College, WCHA)
141st overall, 5th round
Height: 6’2 Weight: 188 lbs
When Anaheim saw Hermosa Beach native Brian Salcido still available midway through the fifth round, they jumped at the chance to acquire the local boy. Trading their sixth round pick and next year’s seventh round pick, Anaheim selected the Colorado College blueliner 141st overall. Salcido had previously played in both the Junior Ducks and Junior Kings youth hockey programs and was a teammate of first round selection Bobby Ryan when they were both playing for the Junior Kings. Salcido also played with the
No. 1 selection, Sidney Crosby and the No. 3 selection, Jack Johnson while he was with Shattuck St. Mary’s in 2002-03.
Salcido is a slick-skating blueliner who plays well with the puck. He plays a very mature and intelligent game already and plays a solid positional game. He was forced to play a larger role with the Tigers due to injuries on the blue line and as a result led all Tiger defensemen in points as well as coming in fourth among WCHA blueliners. Already 20, Salcido is going into his junior year with Colorado. He still needs to develop his game further and would be more effective if he added muscle to his lanky frame.
JEAN-PHILIPPE LEVASSEUR, RW (Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, QMJHL)
197th overall, 7th round
Height: 6’0 Weight: 184 lbs
For the second year in a row, Anaheim selected a Quebec league goaltender in the seventh round. This year, it was highly touted J-P Levasseur, from Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. He was
projected to be a second or third round selection, and has the potential to be a starting goaltender in the NHL.
Levasseur’s strong play in his first full season with the Huskies led to the mid-year trade of Philippe Roberge. It was then expected that Levasseur would be the starting goaltender, however Islanders
prospect Sylvain Michaud had other plans. Michaud was acquired in the Roberge trade from Drummondville and his strong play kept Levasseur on the bench for much of the second half of the season. The Huskies ended up making it all the way to the QMJHL semi-finals, but Levasseur’s decreased playing time dropped his stock significantly by the time draft day rolled around.
A traditional Quebec butterfly goaltender, Levasseur gets into position well and moves very quickly on the ice. He has a quick glove hand and covers the net well, despite his average size. It’s unclear at this time whether Michaud will return to the Huskies as an over-ager or not, but Levasseur is ready to assume to starting position.
While it’s important to consider what role these drafted players will assume if they make it to the NHL, it’s also just as telling to look at whom the Ducks did not pick and what that means for the team. Going into the draft, the Ducks looked as though they could use a player like Jack Johnson to solidify the future of the blue line. However, by selecting a player like Ryan instead, it not only goes towards filling a hole up front, but also shows how much faith Anaheim has in their top pick in 2004, Ladislav Smid. Smid has been quietly gaining experience in the Czech senior league and he opened many eyes when he was in Anaheim for the prospect conditioning camp. When he was drafted, Smid was expected to challenge for a spot on Anaheim’s roster in 2005-06 and that plan still appears to be on track. The only thing standing in the way is the Czech ice hockey federation’s rejection of the NHL and the IIHF’s player transfer agreement.
Meanwhile, significance can be drawn from the fact that Ryan is a right wing and that no natural centers were drafted. This could point towards Anaheim’s desire to develop Getzlaf as a center, instead of as a right wing, something that has been discussed since his success on the wing at the World Juniors. Anaheim lacks depth at the pivot position and moving Getzlaf to the wing would only make them weaker down the middle.
Anaheim did choose a number of forwards who aren’t afraid to play rough, and also picked up two strong skating blueliners who have offensive potential and a goaltender with a lot of potential. In those regards, all the organizational needs that were identified for the team were filled. The signs of a classic “Brian Burke” team that skates well, plays hard and forechecks up front with a puck moving blue line are all over this draft and it could be a sign of things to come in Anaheim.
On the day of the draft, Anaheim traded Michael Holmqvist to Chicago in exchange for Travis Moen. Holmqvist played for Cincinnati last season, scoring 14 goals and putting up 46 points in 79 games. In 21 games of NHL competition, Holmqvist has scored two goals. He is expected to challenge for a third or fourth line spot with the Blackhawks.
Alexei Smirnov, Kurtis Foster, Tomas Malec, Sheldon Brookbank, Cory Pecker and Eddie Ferhi did not receive qualifying offers from the Mighty Ducks and became free agents on August 1st. Foster has
since signed with the Minnesota Wild and Brookbank has joined the Nashville Predators, while Smirnov is expected to return to Russia.
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