Recently, the Anaheim Ducks have started to have fewer and fewer draft picks due to trades for established talents. However, at the 2015 NHL Draft, they were able to bring aboard seven new prospects chosen from all over the globe.
As usual, Bob Murray and crew went to their favorite spots to scoop up talent. Four of the seven selected players are coming out of the United States amateur circuit, while the top two selections for the team were European products.
It is more than just a trend for the Ducks now, it is a culture. Since the 2012 NHL Draft, Anaheim has taken 13 of their 25 picks from U.S. amateur sources, and seven out of Europe. That is a staggering 20 of 25 picks from those two areas. They have all but bypassed the popular pipeline of the CHL in recent years.
The team also continued to load up on an already impressive amount of defensive depth by using their top selection on a defenseman. They also reached out in an attempt to fix their weak center depth by picking up three centers.
All in all, the Ducks put together a fairly cognizant draft that seemed to address some areas of need.
You could consider this a bit of a strange pick since the Ducks boast one of the youngest and most formidable pipelines of defensemen currently in the NHL. With youngsters in the NHL lineup already like Sami Vatanen, Cam Fowler, Simon Despres and Hampus Lindholm, they have still yet to see the likes of Shea Theodore, Marcus Pettersson, and Brandon Montour. Nevertheless, the Ducks added another defenseman with Jacob Larsson.
Larsson figures to be a solid offensive contributor in the future, and has all the tools to his game to be a dynamite top four blueliner who could also impact special teams. His defensive game could come along, as could his strength, but overall he has a lot of tools to like if you are looking at a solid all-around defenseman.
The inherent problem for Larsson is that he is a left-shooting puck mover in a system that is already quite heavy on said qualities. Theodore, Pettersson, Fowler, Lindholm, and Despres are all left-shooting, puck-moving oriented players. To boot, none of them are yet over the age of 23, making it hard to see where Larsson will slot in a few years from now. That being said, he definitely has the skill set and dynamic ability to be able to force his way into the lineup. Too much depth is never a bad thing – especially when it comes to defense.
Larsson participated in the 2015 NHL Scouting Combine in early June. He met with the media following his testing session, with him comments being captured in this Hockey’s Future video.
For the Ducks, this might have been the pick of the draft. While on the surface Nattinen does not seem to be more than a solid two-way center, he is the panacea to a thin group of centers. He plays a game that the Ducks have coveted in recent years from their centers. Bullish, difficult to play against, and capable of some good offensive contributions.
There are not too many holes in the big Finn’s game currently, aside from his skating. He has been playing almost exclusively with JYP’s U-20 (Akatemia) team in the Finnish Mestis, but will more than likely get a shot to play with the men’s squad full-time this coming season. It will be the first of many tests for Nattinen’s game, as he will be just 18 years old in a league of men. JYP finished third overall in Liiga last season and were fourth in the regular season table. There will be no shortage of competition for him in the coming season. This was a strong second round move for the Ducks, as he could easily turn into a future top six or top nine center. The Ducks have already moved to sign Nattinen to an entry-level contract.
The Ducks went to the USHL and the NCAA in the third round to go after Brent Gates of the Green Bay Gamblers. Born in Seattle, but from the Grand Rapids, Michigan area, the forward has committed to the University of Minnesota for 2015-16. Fittingly enough, it is the same school where his father, former MLB first-round pick (Oakland A’s 1991) and current scout of the Tampa Bay Rays, played baseball.
Gates turns 18 this coming August, which made him one of the youngest players in the draft. Be that as it may, he is a big kid already with lots of room to get bigger and stronger. A fairly serious leg injury seemed to make Gates fall a bit in the pre-draft rankings, but overall he has an intriguing blend of size, intelligence, and skill. While all of that will be tested as he steps into the realm of NCAA as an 18-year old, there is a good combination of all-around play and a sports pedigree that makes Gates an interesting mid-round selection. The Owen Sound Attack currently have his rights, so it remains to be seen whether he will take the two-year CHL route or the four-year college route a this point.
Sideroff was the only CHL player taken by the Ducks in the 2015 draft. While the first thing you will likely notice about the winger is his diminutive size, that should not detract from the fact that he has a lot of strong pieces to his game. He has a fairly explosive offensive game, with quickness in his puck movement, his feet and his thinking. He is no slouch on the defensive side of the puck either. All things considered, Sideroff is a solid third-round pick that has the make-up of a top-nine complementary player at his ceiling. The lack of size is concerning, but he is an exceptionally intelligent player who plays the game in an exciting and cognitive way.
Troy Terry, C, U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
5th round, 148th overall
Height: 5-10 Weight: 160
The Ducks went smaller than Sideroff and younger than Gates with this pick if you could imagine that. At 5’10, 160 pounds, and not turning 18 until September, Terry might have been one of the youngest and smallest players in the draft. However, there is a ton to like with Terry, and his slide to the 5th round could end up being an excellent steal for the Ducks.
His pure skill and intelligent all-around play are something that you do not normally scoop up in late rounds, however many scouts were likely turned off or easily overlooked him for his size and his development path. Terry broke into the U.S. National U18 Team from the USNTDP Juniors halfway through the year. He also joined the two year program for just one year. Neither of these things are very common. Nevertheless he was a productive and effective forward almost all year with the USDP. He is committed to the University of Denver for a four year development track. All signs point to Terry being one of those undersized, yet incredibly productive NCAA forwards. For a fifth-round grab, the Ducks have to be pleased.
Steven Ruggiero, D, U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
6th round, 178th overall
Height: 6-3 Weight: 200
Ruggiero is not going to be a boom-bust pick. There is not a dynamic element to his game. What Ruggiero is though, is a steady defensively-oriented defenseman with good size and athleticism. With the Ducks coveting a wealth of talented offensive defensemen and two-way defensemen, the 18-year old from Kings Park, New York, is a good addition to the pipeline purely for the variety. Anaheim does not have many players like him on the younger side of their pipeline, and a four year development path through Providence College of the NCAA will likely spit him out to the pros right when the opportunity is ripe for a player of his style.
Garrett Metcalf, G, Madison Capitols (USHL)
6th round, 179th overall
Height 6-2 Weight: 181
The Ducks needed a goalie prospect badly. Only John Gibson remains as a prospect eligible goalie with the team. With their last pick they decided to put something else in the cupboard. Metcalf is a somewhat lanky goaltender who still has a lot of work to do in terms of his angles and positioning,. He does, however, have good size, a lot of raw potential, and an excellent program ahead of him. The 19-year-old is committed to UMass-Lowell, the same program that worked Connor Hellebuyck (WPG) into one of the best goaltenders in the country. UMass-Lowell coach, Norm Bazin, will have his work cut out for him. His team will be running on two rookie goalies this coming season with Metcalf and undrafted 19-year-old Sean Cleary. Metcalf should see plenty of opportunity to win the starting job and earn himself playing time over the next several years. The Ducks needed a goaltender, and they took one.