Ducks 2005 draft evaluation

By Kyle Kujawa

The 2005 NHL Entry Draft was not an especially strong one for the Anaheim Ducks. On one hand, a stroke of luck landed them a promising young player who is currently right in the middle of the group of youngsters that will lead Anaheim going forward. On the other hand, their other five selections haven’t netted them much in the way of an impact, with the exception of one young defenseman who is still on the verge.

Anaheim benefited greatly from the NHL draft lottery. Under the system, each team was assigned three lottery balls, with one taken away for each year the team had made the playoffs, with the minimum of one required. Anaheim missed the playoffs the season before and after their unpredicted run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2003, landing them with two lottery balls and the second overall pick — just one selection away from landing the top pick and Sidney Crosby.

This was also the team’s first draft under general manager Brian Burke. The result of the draft reflected Burke’s philosophy — especially with the big, physical forwards who were selected, all North American-born. In total, they took a balanced approach, drafted three forwards, two defensemen, and one goaltender.

Bobby Ryan, RW — Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
1st round, 2nd overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 168

It goes without saying that the stories of this draft were heavily focused on Crosby, who emerged into the public eye at the age of 13 as a hockey prodigy. However, Burke succeeded in getting quite a few people to talk about the second overall pick. There were many rumors that Burke wanted to trade down, so trade ideas flew while many speculated that Jack Johnson would be Anaheim’s man if they kept the pick. Burke held onto the pick and selected Bobby Ryan, ranked below both Johnson and Benoit Pouliot, so the pick was a slight surprise, though not a reach. Presently, it looks like Ryan was the best pick at this position.

Anaheim even took their time with his development, with no desperate need for a scorer as Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry both established themselves as premier NHL point producers. Ryan continued to make headlines, following up his 89-point draft season with 95 and 102 in his final two seasons with Owen Sound. He also represented his country at the World Junior Championships, posting seven points in seven games in the 2006 tournament. He was also a much publicized omission from the 2007 team roster.

He needed only a little time to adjust to professional hockey. He posted 49 points in 48 games with the AHL’s Portland Pirates in 2007-08 in addition to 20 points in 16 playoff games for them. He also got a taste for the NHL, appearing in 23 games with Anaheim. Burke made the tough decision to start him off in the AHL in 2008-09 for salary cap purposes, but his departure to Toronto in addition to Ryan’s quick 19-point in 14-game start led to a permanent home in the NHL. Despite missing almost two months of the season, Ryan managed to become a Calder Trophy finalist after racking up 31 goals and 26 assists in 57 games.

His first full season saw him score 35 goals in 81 games. He also had the chance to represent the United States again at the Olympics, where he was one of the youngest five players on the team — one which was assembled by Burke. Ryan’s big body and strong touch around the net will likely lead to many more 30-goal seasons for the Ducks, as Ryan looks to be one of the most promising young goal scorers in the league.

Brendan Mikkelson, D — Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
2nd round, 31st overall
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL Games Played: 62

Anaheim traded their own second-round pick to Philadelphia (later traded to Phoenix) for Todd Fedoruk, but they were able to pick up the first selection in the second round in exchange for Vaclav Prospal. With that selection, they picked up a smooth-skating lanky defenseman out of western Canada in Brendan Mikkelson.

Mikkelson was never an offensive force, but he was known as a gifted two-way defenseman despite a 15-point draft season. His development was quickly delayed as his 2005-06 season was limited to just 22 games because of injury. He got back on track with the Vancouver Giants the following season, when he scored six goals alongside 29 assists in 69 games. He also had 10 points in 21 games as the Giants won the WHL and the Memorial Cup, and Mikkelson was a big part of that team’s blueline.

His first three professional seasons all saw different AHL cities, as Anaheim’s AHL affiliate moved and then disappeared for this season, first to Portland, then Iowa, and Toronto this season. In 146 AHL games, he scored 19 goals and added 33 assists. He’s also played 62 games with Anaheim over the past two seasons, but has been unable to stick for long periods of time.

Anaheim has only two NHL defensemen under contract for next season, so it’s unclear what kind of role Mikkelson is in line for. He has to clear waivers to play in the AHL, so there’s a good chance that he’ll end up in the NHL full-time. He’s added 25 pounds since he was drafted without sacrificing much of the skating ability and good hockey sense that got him drafted. He has the tools to be a top-four defenseman, however, he probably won’t be able to put up big offensive totals.

Jason Bailey, RW —  USNTDP U-18
3rd round, 63rd overall
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

Bailey is a very straightforward player on the ice — what you see is what you get. He was drafted as a hard-working winger. He had good speed and worked hard in his own end, but doesn’t have the ability to put much offense on the board. Today, he still boasts about the same package. He attended the University of Michigan, but left halfway through his sophomore season. He produced just seven points as a freshman, and didn’t register a single point in the 19 games he played as a sophomore. Some said his physical style of play, which included the occasional fight, was better suited away from the NCAA to begin with.

From there, he became a member of the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s under Brian Kilrea. His numbers were still modest, with just 16 points in his first half-season after leaving Michigan, and 17 in his next season, shortened to 34 games by injury. He turned pro with Anaheim regardless of his offensive struggles, but didn’t score in 35 games with Bakersfield (ECHL) or two with Iowa (AHL).

In the summer of 2009, Anaheim traded him to Ottawa for minor-league prospect Shawn Weller. He noticed six goals and one assist in 62 games with Binghamton, alongside 62 penalty minutes. Bailey has still yet to show much offensive ability at any level, but he’s useful for his shutdown ability. He’s still a long shot, but has serviceably filled the checking-line role at every level he’s seen.

Bobby Bolt, LW — Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
5th round, 127th overall
Status: NHL Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

Bolt was a typical Brian Burke-style selection: a big, physical winger who excels around the net. Unlike Ryan, who flourished in the Anaheim system, Bolt struggled greatly. After a 25-point season showed enough for him to warrant a selection from Anaheim in the draft, Bolt immediately took a step back with just 15 points in his second complete OHL season. He showed enough promise in this third season — 50 points in 62 games — to earn a contract, but that’s about where his development stopped.

Bolt was considered to be a big project pick. He had scored some goals, but didn’t possess very many elite-level skills. He was physical and could drop the gloves when called upon, but needed work on his skating, his play in his own zone, as well as his finishing skills. All but four games of his first professional season were spent in the ECHL with the Augusta Lynx, scoring 15 goals, but only 26 points in 62 games — not usually acceptable numbers for a legitimate NHL prospect. His second professional season was almost completely derailed by injury. He played in just 11 games with Anaheim’s ECHL affiliate in Bakersfield, recording just one assist.

The injury set Bolt’s play back, and it took just two ECHL games until he was loaned out to Muskegon of the IHL, a league that doesn’t see too much NHL talent. He struggled there as well, posting just 18 points in 66 games. His contract expires, and Bolt will certainly not be brought back after three disappointing years of professional hockey.

Brian Salcido, D — Colorado College (NCAA)
5th round, 141st overall
Status: NHL Bust
NHL Games Played: 2

Anaheim traded a sixth and seventh-round pick to add a California native in Salcido, who had previously played with the Junior Ducks youth hockey program. Salcido was already twice passed over in the NHL entry draft, having completed his sophomore season in the NCAA before Anaheim selected him. He was productive, however, having put up 29 points in 37 games as a sophomore on a pretty deep Colorado College team.

It took just one more season of college hockey for Salcido to earn a professional contract. His 40 points in 42 games as a junior earned him a contract from Anaheim, leading to a 27-point professional debut with Portland as an AHL rookie. His game took off from there, as he scored 11 goals and 42 assists in his second full professional season.

His production never again reached those levels. Though he was named to the AHL Second All-Star Team the following season, his 43 points in 76 games were slightly off the mark from what he had recorded before. He did make his NHL debut, recording an assist in two games with Anaheim, becoming the first native of Southern California to suit up for the Ducks. The lack of an AHL affiliate this season forced Salcido onto a cramped Manitoba lineup, where he produced just 18 points, partially due to less ice time.

While not technically still a prospect, there is a good chance that Anaheim will re-sign Salcido, an unrestricted free agent this summer. Despite the fact that they have several other promising defensemen who are in line for NHL jobs, his experience at the AHL level may give him value as an AHL veteran who could potential earn an NHL recall.

Jean-Philippe Levasseur, G — Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL)
7th round, 197th overall
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

Going into the 2004-05 season, Levasseur was an early favorite to be one of the top goaltenders selected in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. However, a mediocre season led to his slide all the way to the seventh round, where Anaheim made him their final selection of the draft. His final two seasons in the QMJHL didn’t do much to justify his former hype. He won 30 or more games both seasons, but his .891 and .889 save percentages and GAA that hovered around 3.50 were not earth-shattering.

They did earn him a professional contract, however. He played just 10 games in the AHL as a first-year pro, in addition to 29 with Augusta of the ECHL. He became experienced enough to earn a split with Anaheim’s affiliate in Iowa the following season, where he appeared in 41 games and posted a 13-18-4 record with a 3.11 GAA and a .890 save percentage.

Entering his final season of his first professional contract, Levasseur looked like he was not in the long-term plans of Anaheim. He started the year in Laredo of the CHL, before injuries to Nikolai Khabibulin in Edmonton opened up a spot with their AHL affiliate in Springfield for him. The team struggled mightily to keep pucks out of the net, evidenced by his 3.59 GAA, but a .896 save percentage — better than what he posted in Iowa — is not the worst thing in the world.

With both Timo Pielmeier and Marco Cousineau under contract for next season, it’s unlikely Levasseur will be brought back.