Photo: Defenseman Andy Welinski possesses one of the hardest shots of any Anaheim prospect. Welinski will play for the University of Minnesota-Duluth for 2012-13. (Brace Hemmelgarn/Icon SMI)
The Anaheim Ducks have a prospect mix that is high on talent and beginning to find some balance across the board. This past season was defined largely by the addition of three Swedes, William Karlsson, Rikard Rakell, and Max Friberg, who captured a pair of awards here. The campaign was also marked by steady improvements and fluid adjustments by players who moved advanced stages in their development whether by role, level, or both. It was also defined in part by a significant loss, that of defenseman Justin Schultz who spurned the Ducks for free agency.
Photo: The Anaheim Ducks pulled one of the early surprises at the 2012 NHL Draft with the selection of Swedish defender, Hampus Lindholm (courtesy of Ken McKenna/HF)
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.
Photo: The Ducks added more hometown flavor to their team with the selection of forward Nicolas Kerdiles from the USNTDP program (courtesy of Ken McKenna/HF)
While the Anaheim Ducks scoured Sweden to draft Hampus Lindholm, they only needed to meander fifteen minutes down I-5 to discover second-rounder and Irvine product Nicolas Kerdiles.
Photo: Selected 39th overall in 2011, John Gibson quickly established himself as a top goaltender in the OHL. (Aaron Bell/OHL Images).
The Anaheim Ducks dug a deep hole in the first three months of their 2011-12 campaign. They were one of the league's most dangerous teams in the second half, displaying the form that allowed them to host a playoff series just a season earlier. Now, a roster highlighted by stars and a franchise with tremendous prospect depth, Anaheim finds itself picking No. 6 and No. 36 overall. The Ducks dealt away their middle-round picks but were fortunate enough to keep their first two selections, which are much higher than the talent level in their organization might suggest.
Photo: Goaltender Chris Gibson fields questions with the media shortly after be selected by the Los Angeles Kings 49th overall in the 2011 NHL Draft. Gibson is part of a large group of very talented young goaltenders in the Kings system. (Brace Hemmelgarn/Icon SMI)
Over the past year, the Los Angeles Kings
shifted their philosophy from stockpiling young talent to selling it off for reliable roster players. Heading into the playoffs, the eighth-seeded Kings had bet the farm on what appeared to be a losing proposition. They entered the post-season as a bottom seed whose first pick in the 2012 draft was at 121. That changed, however, as they completed an improbable run to a Stanley Cup championship, which also will likely result in the Columbus Blue Jackets
exercising the option to take their 2013 pick. The Kings will now have the final selection in this year's first round as well as six late picks, which they have invested wisely with in recent years.