Mighty Ducks 2001 draft evaluation

By Kevin Forbes

Although it has been five years since the 2001 NHL Entry
Draft, there still remains more questions than answers for the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. The Ducks drafted a total of
11 players in 2001, the most by the team since the 11 they chose in their first year in 1993.

The 2001 draft was the last draft overseen by longtime GM Pierre Gauthier, who had been with the club since 1998. This draft was also the last time that Anaheim chose more then one player from the European leagues, selecting a total of six players from the other side of the ocean. Interestingly enough, of the six Europeans selected, four of them were over the age of 20 when they were drafted.

Of those 11 players drafted, six have seen at least one game of NHL action, although at present only two are still within the organization. In total the players have played a total of 285 NHL games, for an average of 25 games per pick. In addition to these picks, the Ducks currently own the rights to Igor Pohanka, originally selected by New Jersey in the second round, 44th overall and Maxim Kondratiev, originally selected by Toronto in the sixth round, 168th overall.

Stanislav Chistov, LW
1st Round, 5th overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games: 135

It’s difficult to label Stanislav Chistov as an NHL player, as it has been almost two years since he has played at the NHL level. Chistov exploded onto the scene with an escape from Russia straight out of a spy novel and a strong rookie campaign as part of magical 2002-03 season that saw Anaheim compete in the Stanley Cup finals. However, the following year had Chistov split time between the NHL and the AHL, due to inconsistent play and a lack of focus. That season of troubles was followed by the lockout, which saw the Russian again play in the AHL. Prior to the 2005-06 season, Chistov had decided enough was enough and signed with a team back in Russia. As a member of Metallurg Magnitogorsk, Chistov played alongside Pittsburgh top prospect, Evgeni Malkin.

The future remains a question mark for the diminutive forward. Although both the Mighty Ducks and Chistov have told the media that they would like for him to play once again in the NHL, it’s unclear when such an event would happen. An unidentified source with the Ducks confirmed that they would be inviting Chistov to training camp, but refused to speculate on whether he would return. The RSL is bringing in a salary cap for the 2006-07 season and according to some sources, Chistov’s name wasn’t on the contract that Metallurg drew up. Chistov has NHL skills, but it is unknown whether his desire is at the same level.

Mark Popovic, D
2nd Round, 35th overall
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL Games: 8

After a bit of a risky pick with Chistov, Anaheim used their second rounder on a ‘safe’ defenseman from the Ontario Hockey League, who was projected to be picked in the middle of the first round. Mark Popovic was noted as an well-rounded two-way blue liner from the Toronto St. Mike’s Majors. He later went on to be their team captain at St. Mike’s and he also played for the Canadian World Juniors squad in 2002. Once graduated to pro hockey, Popovic found himself forced to be a leader among a young defensive unit with Anaheim’s farm team in Cincinnati. An alternate captain in just his second year, he was rewarded with a single game with Anaheim near the end of the season. Following another solid season in the AHL during the lockout, Popovic was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers.

Although he spent most of the season in AHL once again, he was able to play more of an offensive role with the Chicago Wolves and had a career season. He also played in seven games with the Thrashers and will be challenging for a full-time spot in the fall.

Joel Stepp, LW
3rd Round, 69th overall
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL Games: 0

Joel Stepp’s story is a case of how injuries can almost end a career before it even gets off the ground. Originally hoped to have potential as a third or even second line forward, Stepp will be lucky if he makes it to the NHL now. The year after he was drafted, Stepp fractured his wrist while playing for the Red Deer Rebels. Although he continued to play on it, Stepp injured the wrist again the following fall at the Ducks training camp in 2002, causing him to play only 24 games with the Rebels that year. Healthy enough to see time in all of the playoff games, Stepp was rewarded with an NHL contract.

Once he made it to pro hockey, he was a victim of the numbers game and saw himself stuck with checking line minutes. Bounced between the ECHL and the AHL in each of the last two seasons, Stepp was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers in March. Joining the Gwinnett Gladiators in the ECHL, Stepp was a key contributor for the club until he suffered a ruptured spleen at the beginning of May, ending his season.

Timo Parssinen, LW
4th Round, 102nd overall
Status: NHL Bust
NHL Games: 17

When Timo Parssinen was drafted, he was touted as being the replacement for recently traded Teemu Selanne. Drafted at the age of 24, Parssinen was able to step directly into the Ducks lineup. After a strong preseason, he was able to tally only three assists in 17 NHL games. He
fared a bit better in the AHL, with 38 points in 49 games, but hardly numbers capable of replacing Selanne.

After a single season of North American hockey, Parssinen returned to SM-Liiga, the Finnish Elite League. He played three seasons with HIFK Helsinki, each with varying degrees of success and spent the 2005-06 season with Zug in the Swiss leagues. His teammates on the Zug team include other former NHL players such as Oleg Petrov, Barry Richter and Paul Dipeitro.

Vladimir Korsunov, D
4th Round, 105th overall
Status: NHL Bust
NHL Games: 0

Vladimir Korsunov is an example of a player who played strongly, but in the end a deal simply could not be made to bring him to the NHL. A solid defensive defenseman for Moscow Spartak, Korsunov played regularly in the RSL since the age of 18. Also a member of the Russian World Junior squad as an 18-year-old, Korsunov was expected to use the 2003 WJC to showcase his abilities and win a contract. However, a back injury prevented this from occurring and Anaheim never seemed to show much interest in bringing him over.

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement changed the way teams can handle European prospects and would have resulted in Anaheim losing Korsunov’s rights as of June
1, 2006. However, due to the Russia Hockey Federation refusal to sign the transfer agreement, Korsunov will remain a part of the Ducks organization until June of 2007. Korsunov still plays in the Spartak Moscow system, scoring seven points, all assists, in 42 games this season.

Brandon Rogers, D
4th Round, 118th overall
Status: NHL Bust
NHL Games: 0

Like Korsunov, Brandon Rogers is another player who played well, but at the end of the day, could not get an NHL contract. A two-way blueliner with the University of Michigan, Rogers seemed to fill an organizational need for
a defenseman who could move the puck and contribute on the power play. However, after four years with Wolverines, Rogers remained unsigned. Signing as a free agent with Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights, the farm team for the Calgary Flames, Rogers played in 42 games and had eight assists before being dealt to the Norfolk Admirals, the farm team of the Chicago Blackhawks. He finished the season with three goals and 18 points in 69 games as an AHL rookie.

Joel Perrault, C
5th Round, 137th overall
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL Games: 5

Joel Perrault was a player who was able to turn a trade into a shot at the NHL. After a high-scoring career in the QMJHL, Perrault joined Anaheim’s farm team in Cincinnati. He had a successful rookie
season, however, his sophomore year was cut short by concussion problems. It was a tough blow for Perrault, who was one of the top offensive stars on the team in just his second year. Unfortunately, recovering from the concussions resulted in Perrault missing the beginning of the 2005-06 season as well. Finally returning to the ice in January, Perrault was traded at the trade deadline to the Phoenix Coyotes. As a member of the Coyotes organization, Perrault made his NHL debut on April
8, 2006. He played a total of five games with Phoenix, tallying two points and will look to try to solidify a more permanent position in the Coyotes lineup at training camp this fall.

Jan Tabacek, D
6th Round, 170th overall
Status: NHL Bust
NHL Games: 0

Another overage European, Tabacek was 21 when he was drafted by Anaheim. After spending the 2001-02 season playing in Slovakia, he was signed to a contract and assigned to Cincinnati. Unfortunately, a shoulder injury limited him to just 12 games with the Baby Ducks and another two in the ECHL. At the end of the season, he returned to Slovakia, where he played the following two seasons. For 2005-06, Tabacek moved to the Czech Republic, where he played for Sparta Praha, scoring a goal and four points in 18 games.

Tony Martensson, C
7th Round, 224th overall
Status: NHL Bust
NHL Games: 6

Yet another overage European, Martensson was 21 when he was drafted out of the Swedish Elite League. After another successful season with Brynas in 2001-02, Martensson was signed by the Ducks and assigned to Cincinnati. A talented playmaker, Martensson led the AHL team in scoring in each of his two seasons there. He also played in six NHL games in 2003-04, tallying a goal and an assist. Supposedly frustrated by not getting a fair chance at a permanent NHL spot, Martensson returned to the Swedish Elite League for the 2004-05 season, where he remains today, as one of Linkoping’s top players.

Earlier this season, there were rumors that Martensson might return to Anaheim in the near future, however Martensson himself refuted those claims, stating he wasn’t interested in going back to the NHL and that he was comfortable and satisfied in Linkoping. Those statements, coupled with Anaheim’s subsequent signing of Bjorn Melin have no doubt closed the door on Martensson’s NHL career for the foreseeable future, if not for good.

Martin Gerber, G
8th Round, 232nd overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games: 114

Gerber was drafted as a 26-year-old out of the Swiss
league. He played the following season for Farjestads in the Swedish Elite League to go against further competition and after a banner year there, he signed an NHL deal and came to North America. Gerber stepped in as the backup for Jean-Sebastien Giguere during the magical 2002-03 season and was stellar playing in relief duty for the goaltender. The following season, he played even better, briefly
becoming the Ducks starting goaltender as Giguere struggled. This prompted Anaheim to make a decision as they appeared to have two goaltenders quite capable of filling a starting role.

Prior to the lockout, Anaheim dealt Gerber to the Carolina Hurricanes. He then split the lockout year between the Swiss leagues and the Swedish Elite League, reminiscent of his earlier career in Europe. Returning to the Hurricanes this season, Gerber played in tandem with rookie net minder Cam Ward. In 60 games this season, he had a record of 38-14-6 and a 2.78 GAA as well as a .906 save percentage. In the playoffs, however, it has mostly been Ward’s show, with Gerber seeing action in six games and a record of 1-1. Now 31, Gerber will be a free agent at season’s end, but could also have his name on the Stanley Cup before Carolina’s playoff run is over.

Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau, RW
9th Round, 264th overall
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL Games: 0

Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau only has to look 127 picks above him to find inspiration. Like fellow 2001 draft pick, Joel Perrault, Parenteau is a high-scoring QMJHL star who has struggled with playing time and injuries in his professional hockey career. Showing steady improvement during his three seasons in the AHL, a wrist injury at the beginning of the 2005-06 season caused him to miss the first half of the year. He rebounded nicely and finished third on the Pirates in scoring, as well as being a key contributor in their playoff run.

A restricted free agent this offseason, Parenteau will likely be re-signed. He has much more potential
than his draft position indicates and his development over the years has been steady. Like Perrault, Parenteau could find himself challenging for an NHL spot sometime in the near future.

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