If the Anaheim Ducks management and scouts have done one thing right in their recent history, it is that they have made the top end picks count. While every team has its missed opportunities, flops, and top picks that do not live up to expectations, the Ducks have had an enviable success rate. The mid-season Top 20 features 13 players from rounds one through three, while the top ten features eight players from the first and second rounds. They are getting wonderful seasons from their best prospects, and that is one of the many reasons why the Ducks pipeline is considered one of the more promising in the NHL. It is a group whose promise goes even deeper than the twenty names here.
20. (NR) Andrew O’Brien, D, 6.0C
Drafted 4th round, 2012 overall, in 2012
The big hulking defender has carved out a nice spot on the San Diego Gulls blueline this year. He is proving to be a pretty capable defense-first defender with a developing offensive game. He has good size, a willingness to battle, and is one of the more surprising players on the Gulls back end this year. He is logging all-situations time with the Gulls to boot. He has bounced all over the lineup, from top pair with Shea Theodore to bottom pair with Stu Bickel, but he has stuck.
19. (NR) Joseph Cramarossa, C, 6.0C
Drafted 3rd round, 65th overall, in 2011
His 10 goals on the season rank in at a three-way tie for third on the team. Nevertheless there is an overall question of what Cramarossa can offer altogether. The offense has potential, but defensively, and in terms of skating and skill there is a lot to be desired. Still he shows enough variety and capability in his game to be an outlier in the Top 20.
18. (NR) Brent Gates, C, 6.0C
Drafted 3rd round, 80th overall, in 2015
Minnesota is having a decent season and overall it is never easy for a freshman to jump into a competitive NCAA squad. Nevertheless, Gates has been a regular mainstay on coach Don Lucia’s bottom lines. He has not produced quite so well at the NCAA level, but as a freshman in limited time that is to be expected. He has size, skill, and plenty of time to grow. He is also recovering from a broken leg that sidelined him last year, so a slow season is understandable.
17. (16) Troy Terry, C, 7.0D
Drafted 5th round, 148th overall, in 2015
Terry is a very young collegiate prospect at 18 years old, and he is going to have four years at Denver to build. He is small but skilled and, once he improves his skating, could be a solid late round grab. His freshman season has been up and down, but all signs point to him trending in the right direction with production in a tough conference, and despite his size and experience limitations.
16. (19) Keaton Thompson, D, 6.0C
Drafted 3rd round, 87th overall, in 2013
The offensive game might be limited with Thompson, but he is a pretty smooth-skating two-way option at this point. He is still playing third-pair minutes on a stacked University of North Dakota blueline in his junior year though. Next season should be very interesting if he decides to stay due to both Paul LaDue (LAK) and Gage Ausmus (SJS) conceivably moving on to the pros.
15. (NR) Grant Besse, RW, 7.0D
Drafted 5th round, 147th overall, in 2013
The energetic and skilled forward is having another pretty good season with Wisconsin. He has been relied on heavily, and is getting top line minutes for coach Mike Eaves. Altogether the Badgers are a very young squad that has struggled, Besse has been one of few bright spots, aided in part by top 2016 Draft prospect Luke Kunin. Besse leads the team in scoring thus far.
14. (NR) Michael Sgarbossa, C, 6.5C
Acquired via trade with Colorado, March 2015
Sgarbossa has been quite a nice depth add and AHL player for Anaheim. He currently ranks third in scoring among the Gulls and has been getting plenty of looks as the teams top line center and power play guy. However, from a long term standpoint, he is 23 and still has yet to show much staying power as an NHL center. He has been very good in the A this year which will definitely help his chances moving forward.
13. (11) Kevin Roy, LW, 7.0D
Drafted 4th round, 97th overall, in 2012
An upper body injury has taken a toll on the senior season of Kevin Roy. However, he has been right back at his scoring ways when healthy. He has pushed another point per game season, despite seeing fewer goals than average. He has been one of the best and most consistent collegiate scorers in his career, and this continues to be true in his senior year when he has suited up. Size, at 5’9” remains the biggest and most looming question mark to his game.
12. (18) Deven Sideroff, RW, 7.0D
Drafted 3rd round, 84th overall, in 2015
The 18-year old has pushed forward with Kamloops this year, surpassing point and goal totals from 2014-15. Sideroff has been getting top line looks for the Blazers alongside Matt Needham and Collin Shirley. The trio lead the Blazers in scoring and provided the lion’s share of offense this season.
11. (14) Nick Sorensen, RW, 7.0D
Drafted 2nd round, 45th overall, 2013
Some were concerned that Sorensen returned to Sweden in 2014-15. While last year was not incredibly fruitful for the 21-year old, this year has been a much different and productive season. Playing for Linköping at the top level of Swedish hockey, Sorensen has potted 10 goals and 22 points in 36 games. He has been playing top-nine minutes, getting power play time, and also has a high number of blocked shots for a forward. Altogether, Sorensen’s development in Europe has been more promising than concerning this year.