The Anaheim Ducks were in a somewhat precarious position entering the 2010 NHL Draft. They had an extra first round pick thanks to the Chris Pronger trade, but had very little in the meaty middle rounds. With a history of doing poorly outside of the first three rounds of the draft, the organization had five players to pick in rounds 5-7.
Looking back, it is hard to say the Ducks fared any better than usual. Nevertheless, the team did well in cashing in on the higher end picks, thus making it easy to forgive later round deficiencies. Cam Fowler and Emerson Etem have become legit NHL players, while Devante Smith-Pelly has moved on in part of a deal that returned an equally strong-looking Jiri Sekac. With Chris Wagner on the fringes, the Ducks managed to scrape out three to four legitimate players from their eight 2010 picks. That is a percentage you will take every year. Let us look back at who was selected and where they have gone.
By all accounts, Cam Fowler has been an outright success. The smooth-skating defenseman went immediately into the NHL after his 2010 draft date. He subsequently put up a 40-point NHL rookie season and finished eighth in Calder trophy voting. Mind you, that was a year in which standouts like Logan Couture, John Carlson, P.K. Subban, Jeff Skinner, and Taylor Hall were also on the ballot. He could not, however, emulate the offensive success the following year. He was also starting to get knocked for his risky defensive play. After a sophomore slump and a lockout shortened 2012-13, it seemed as though Fowler turned a corner. In 2013-14 he saw improvements in possession numbers and goal differential numbers. While his offense has slipped, the risky play and poor defensive games have become far less common. Since 2010, the 23-year old has slowly become a more complete defenseman. In a 2010 entry draft that saw plenty of misses, the Ducks have to be pleased with how Fowler is panning out for them as a legitimate top-four defenseman.
Etem has been a mixed bag of consistency. He can be a frustrating player to try and get a read on, and his numbers and usage suggest that as well. The Ducks second first-round pick of the 2010 draft has split time between the AHL and NHL in all three of his professional seasons. He either has not played consistently enough to earn a spot, or simply hasn’t had a place. After an outstanding 100-plus point junior season in 2010-11 with Medicine Hat, Etem has not seen his offensive ability come around quite so well. However, in more recent seasons he has looked more threatening. In 2013-14 with Norfolk, Etem was a point per game player, with 54 points in 50 games. He had an equally strong stay in 2014-15 before being called up to the Ducks for a third straight year. While his offensive numbers are still fairly low for the NHL level, he has shown improvements in his defensive game and analytics game. He has slowly started to use his lightning speed and high-end skills more and more. At age 22, the Long Beach, California native still has plenty of time to take yet another step. It looks as though he is figuring it out, slowly but surely.
At 6’0″ it can be hard to play a power forward game. However, that is what Smith-Pelly has been doing since his draft date. It has not been all that easy though. The 22-year old has been frustratingly inconsistent. While he peaked early and surprised a lot of Anaheim fans in 2013-14, his touch and go defensive game has left him in an odd place. “DSP” – as he is referred to by fans – has been a strong scorer at the AHL level since 2012-13. Yet his success has translated in a minimal form to the NHL level. In a move that seemed best for all parties involved, Smith-Pelly was traded to the Montreal Canadiens for Jiri Sekac in 2014-15. Anaheim felt they could get better utility out of the speedy, more experienced Sekac versus the power forward style player that they already had in excess. Smith-Pelly’s NHL future definitely seems up in the air, as his game does not have quite as much pop at the NHL level as it did at the AHL and OHL levels.
Watch this 2010 NHL Draft Look Back video featuring top draft picks Cam Fowler, Emerson Etem, Devante Smith-Pelly, and General Manager Bob Murray.
5th round, 122nd overall: Chris Wagner, C, South Shore Kings (EJHL)
NHL Games Played: 9
Wagner is one late round pick for Anaheim that has stuck around. Historically the Ducks have had very limited success drafting outside of the first three rounds. The centerman, however, has developed fairly well and now looks like a potential bottom line fit moving forward. After getting selected in 2010, Wagner had a brief two year NCAA career with Colgate University. In his senior year he absolutely blew the doors off the place, scoring 51 points and 17 goals in 38 games. While his AHL success has been a little more muted in comparison, he has made strides year after year. He has steadily improved his production from from his initial AHL season in 2012, and if not for an injury in 2014-15 he would have far surpassed career highs. The gritty center received a nod of approval from Ducks management and played 9 games with the big club this year, including two playoff games.
5th round, 123rd overall: Tim Heed, D, Sodertalje SK (SEL)
Status: Unsigned/Free Agent
NHL Games Played: 0
The Ducks may have ultimately got a little unlucky when it comes to fifth-rounder Tim Heed. The offensive defenseman never made his way to the NHL after the 2010 draft. He instead bounced around the various levels of the Swedish professional leagues. The now 24-year old signed an entry-level contract with the Ducks in May of 2012, but struggled to find any consistency for about two years at the top level. Anaheim and Heed mutually decided to part ways and terminate his contract before the 2014-15 season began. The young puck mover subsequently had the best year of his career. He played 50 games with Skellefteå, including 15 playoff games, and scored 37 points plus eleven more in the postseason. His efforts earned him a new two-year deal with his SHL squad and looks to be in for the long haul with his home country’s hockey league. It seemed like bad timing for the Ducks, although the loaded blueline they currently have likely played a factor in terminating his contract to begin with.
6th round, 132nd overall: Andreas Dahlstrom, C, AIK (SWE-1)
NHL Games Played: 0
Anaheim certainly loves their Euro based prospects, and Dahlström was an interesting low-risk, high-reward late round grab in 2010. Sometimes those things work out, sometimes they do not. In the case of the 23-year old centerman, he never proved much to the organization and was never tendered an entry-level deal. The center played multiple years in the Allsvenskan and SuperElit with AIK but was never capable of sticking with the big club. His lack of production at the second tier was also troubling. Born in the municipality of Huddinge, just outside of Stockholm, Dahlstrom has made his home in the far south of the country with Division 1 team Kallinge/Ronneby (third tier of Swedish hockey). There he has had decent success, but this is far removed from any form of real competitive hockey. Sometimes you score on late round risk picks, but this one did not amount to much for Anaheim.
Lind is in a state of limbo currently. He has come a long way since his 2010 draft date, but he faces a very difficult task if he wishes to play in the NHL. The big-bodied defenseman went from the USHL in Chicago to playing for a good hockey program at the University of Notre Dame. There, the Illinois native secured himself as a physical stay-at-home defenseman with almost zero offensive upside. After staying the full four years with the Fighting Irish, Lind has bounced back and forth between the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL and the Utah Grizzlies of the ECHL. The latter is where he has spent most of his time. Lind was not offered an entry-level contract by the Ducks and is not currently their property. He has, however, been on an ATO (amateur tryout) with Norfolk. He has had varied success with the ECHL Grizzlies, and with the Ducks’ loaded blueline pipeline it is hard to imagine him having any true staying power in an NHL capacity at this point.
7th round, 192nd overall: Brett Perlini, RW, Michigan State University (CCHA)
NHL Games Played: 0
From Michigan State, to Bakersfield, to Lake Erie, to Greenville, to Toledo, Indianapolis, and Fort Wayne, Brett Perlini has had an interesting career thus far. Having played for seven different teams in three different leagues over the course of just three years, you would have to hope he has some sort of frequent flier mile discount. Thus is the life of a late round draft pick. After being drafted as a 20-year old in 2010, Perlini played two more years with Michigan State in the NCAA. Despite some modest numbers, the Ducks let him walk. The Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native then embarked on a tour of the various ECHL squads that pepper the nation. He has signed two PTOs, one in 2013 and one in 2014. He has also been traded twice in the same years. Despite having a good pedigree (His brother Brendan was a 2014 1st round pick with Arizona) and a near 20 goal season at the NCAA level, the speedy winger was ultimately a flame out for the Ducks.