Photo: Wisconsin freshman Nicolas Kerdiles (#17) had a productive freshman season for the Badgers and is a player to watch in the NCAA scoring race heading into the 2013-14 season (courtesy of Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The Anaheim Ducks had several prospects transition into depth roles at the NHL level in 2012-13, with Emerson Etem standing out in particular in the playoffs. The organization’s prospects also found success at lower levels of play, from John Gibson’s international success to Nicolas Kerdiles making an impact in the NCAA as a freshman. The following prospect awards highlight many of the notable performances among the Anaheim Ducks’ prospect pool in 2012-13.
Photo: Finnish defenseman Sami Vatanen made his North American debut in 2012-13 and ranked in the top five in points among AHL blueliners (courtesy of Bob Frid/Icon SMI)
Normally when you look at a team's top prospect list, the top end of it is a mixture of sleepers and blue chip prospects. There are players who live up to the hype, others who create it out of nowhere. Sometimes organizations struggle with top picks panning out, but that is not the case with the Anaheim Ducks.
Photo: Bruising winger Josh Brittain is one of only four Anaheim draft picks from 2008 that is still part of the Ducks system (courtesy of Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Drafting is not always an exact science, and scouting is indeed one of the toughest jobs in the world. In 2008, the Anaheim Ducks had a draft you could describe as disappointing. While the franchise hit big with talented blueliners in Jake Gardiner and Justin Schultz, neither would ever don an Anaheim uniform, instead breaking into the NHL with Toronto and Edmonton respectively. The rest of the draft was a mixed bag of busts, project players, and depth acquisitions. While every draft is going to have the aforementioned group, the Ducks had very little to take away from a 2008 NHL Draft class that has produced many NHL players across all rounds.
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: Detroit’s signing of Western Michigan defenseman Dan DeKeyser has improved the team’s breakout and transition game (courtesy of Steven King/Icon SMI)
Below is the middle section of the Hockey's Future Spring NHL Team Rankings, the staff's ranking of each NHL team's system based on the strength of the entire prospect pool. For reference, just the top five prospects are listed. To be eligible, a prospect must meet HF's prospect criteria. The ranking is done twice a year, with this edition being an update to the Fall ranking.