Ducks 2006 draft preview

By Kevin Forbes

Ducks Top 10 prospects

1. Bobby Ryan, RW
2. Ryan Getzlaf, C
3. Corey Perry, RW
4. Ladislav Smid, D
5. Brendan Mikkelson, D
6. Dustin Penner, LW
7. Jean-Phillipe Levasseur, G
8. Aaron Rome, D
9. Ryan Shannon, C
10. Brett Skinner, D

Team Needs

The Anaheim Ducks were not expected to be a competitive team until at least the
second year under GM Brian Burke. Instead they took many teams by surprise with a red hot second half and an appearance in the Western Conference finals.

With such a young team, including five rookies playing key roles during the postseason, many of Anaheim’s needs and holes will be filled as their core continues to grow and develop. The main challenge for Ducks management could be trying to keep that group together. Players like Andy McDonald, Joffrey Lupul, and Chris Kunitz all enjoyed breakthrough seasons and are now looking for new contracts. While Anaheim does have budget room to
maneuver, alleviated further by the salary cap increase, these contracts could be influential in keeping the team together.

With newly re-signed Teemu Selanne, Lupul, Corey Perry and Dustin Penner all listed as right wingers, Anaheim is weak on the left side. Kunitz did an admirable job keeping up with Selanne and McDonald on the top line, but upgrading the left wing would help balance out the offense. This becomes more apparent with trade deadline acquisition Jeff Friesen likely not to return.

Career Duck blue liner Ruslan Salei expected to test the free agent market in search of a long-term contract, so Anaheim will need to either commit to his needs or find an adequate replacement. The Ducks could look inside their organization first if they believe
Maxim Kondratiev, who is also in need of a new deal or Ladislav Smid are close to making the jump.

Meanwhile, Ilya Bryzgalov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere give the Ducks an enviable position with two goaltenders who could potentially play as a starter. Bryzgalov’s career has been plagued with inconsistency, but he appeared to turn the corner during the playoffs. His contract is up for renewal and he’s been a tough signing in years past. However, Bryzgalov’s new deal will most likely be less
than Giguere’s current contract. Adding to the quandary is the fact that Giguere will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of next season, which no doubt will lower his trade value.

Organizational Strengths

Anaheim’s system is top heavy and also weighted towards the forward ranks. Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf
and Corey Perry are their top prospects and Dustin Penner enjoyed a splendid coming out party in the playoffs. Getzlaf, Perry and Penner are expected to spend all of next year in the NHL and Ryan will no doubt join them soon afterwards. Meanwhile, the Ducks have a number of interesting prospects up front behind the big four, such as
Pierre Alexandre Parenteau and Ryan Shannon.

The Ducks also benefit from an overpopulated blue line. Smid and Kondratiev could both see some time in the NHL next season, with Kondratiev already having 36 career games under his belt. Meanwhile players like
Brett Skinner, Shane O’Brien and Aaron Rome provide depth. Brendan Mikkelson
will be rebounding from an injury-filled season with the Vancouver Giants, this year’s host of the Memorial Cup. The Ducks also have a pair of intriguing prospects in the college ranks in
Brian Salcido and Kyle Klubertanz.

Organizational Weaknesses

Anaheim’s cupboard is bare when it comes to goaltending, forcing them to sign free agents to fill holes with their farm team. They have begun to address this need with the signing of college
standout David McKee this spring, but more is needed. Jean-Phillipe Levasseur has continued to show why he was considered a steal as a seventh round pick, but he is at least three years away from seriously competing for an NHL spot. With Anaheim looking at dealing one of their NHL goaltenders, there is no one in the system who can be an NHL backup anytime soon.

While the Ducks have a large number of defensemen in the system, they could benefit from a few more solid additions. The majority of the prospects on the blue line are question marks or have limited potential. A player or two
who can eventually play top four minutes would help out tremendously. The acquisition and emergence of
Francois Beauchemin has done wonders in this regard, and trading for Kondratiev and
Skinner are also moves to address this need.

Draft Tendencies

Brian Burke is a firm believer in drafting the best player available and not addressing specific needs. In addition to Burke, the Ducks draft is run by Assistant General Manager David McNab and Vice President of Amateur Scouting and Player Development Chuck Fletcher who are the architects behind the Ducks current pipeline. Anaheim’s scouting and drafting tendencies changed dramatically prior to the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, moving the team towards grittier character players.

As the top team in Hockey’s Future organizational rankings, Anaheim will be able to sit back and fill their needs and tweak their system, rather then looking for quick answers and a large overhaul. That being said, it’s unlikely the Ducks will pick a goaltender in the first round, however they should select one sometime in their first four picks.

Anaheim’s former infatuation with Europeans, especially veteran players has gone cold as of late with only
12 percent of their picks in the last four drafts coming from across the ocean, compared to
47 percent of their picks in the previous nine years. The majority of those recent European picks have come from Finland, with three out of the four Europeans selected in the past four years drafted out of Sm-Liiga.

Meanwhile, over that same four-year period, the Ducks split their North American picks between CHL at
58 percent of the picks and the NCAA at 32 percent of the picks. The Ducks have favored the Ontario Hockey League in the CHL and the CCHA in the NCAA the most out of the North American leagues.

Hockey’s Future staff mock draft result: Mark Mitera, D, University of Michigan, NCAA

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