Photo: After a slow start to his rookie season, Emerson Etem came on strong in the second half, earning a steady role in the Ducks lineup (courtesy of Ric Tapia/Icon SMI)
In a low-scoring season that you might consider a struggle, the Norfolk Admirals and the Anaheim Ducks still have a lot to look forward to with several young and promising players suiting up for the team. Between a few solid goaltenders, some talented forwards, and at least one AHL All-rookie team defenseman, the Ducks can look at their AHL system with a promising eye. Many of the prospects are on the cusp of becoming NHL players, and as the AHL season has come to an end many of them have made noteworthy cases for being considered for a spot with the big club next season.
Photo: With 54 NHL games already under his belt, Devante Smith-Pelly is the leading left wing prospect in the Anaheim prospect pool. (courtesy of Ray Carlin/Icon SMI)
The Anaheim Ducks prospect system has a solid core and the future appears to be very bright. The club features great depth with young rising stars at each position. The Ducks have a few skaters whom many believe have the ability to make an immediate impact at the NHL level.
Photo: After playing the past three seasons in Finland, defenseman Sami Vatanen made his way to North America and currently plays for the AHL affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks. (Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Below is the middle section Hockey’s Future’s NHL Team Rankings. The teams are ranked in terms of the quality of their overall prospect pool as voted on by the staff of Hockey's Future. For reference, just the top five prospects are listed. To be eligible, a prospect must meet HF's prospect criteria. The rankings are done twice a year, with the second scheduled to be published in the Spring.
Photo: Goal-scoring winger Kyle Palmieri may not be far away from establishing himself with the Ducks after short NHL stints in his first two pro seasons. (courtesy of Patrick Green/ Icon SMI)
Even though in 2012 the Anaheim Ducks suffered their worst regular season finish in eight years, there is a ton to be excited about moving forward for Ducks hockey. Over the years the organization has compiled a solid group of hard working, blue-collar prospects, several which are on the cusp of NHL careers. The list may be void of a true stand out "superstar" but the Ducks have compiled a plethora of solid puck-moving defenseman and gritty and talented forwards. Names like Emerson Etem, Sami Vatanen, and Nicolas Kerdiles are just a few on a long list that is filled with potential.
Photo: Anahiem Ducks prospect Kyle Palmieri moved closer to becoming a full-time NHL player in the 2011-12 season, a season that included being chosen to participate at the 2012 AHL All-Star Game (courtesy of Bill Streicher/Icon SMI)
The Anaheim Ducks once again bolstered their organizational depth and addressed team needs with eight selections at the 2012 NHL Draft. Five of the picks from that draft will be featured in this ranking, with Hampus Lindholm leading the newest recruits to the Ducks' organization.