Ducks top 20 prospects

By Kevin Forbes

With no players graduating from the Anaheim Ducks’ prospect pipeline, this edition of the Hockey’s Future Anaheim Top 20 list is relatively unchanged from the previous iteration.
Ladislav Smid departs, having been traded to Edmonton. Among the three new faces are Mark Mitera, Anaheim’s top pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft and David McKee, a former record setting college netminder who may see time in the NHL sooner rather
than later, depending on how negotiations with goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov proceed. Barring any unfortunate incident, this is also the last appearance of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry after both players played the majority of the 2005-06 season in the NHL and should graduate soon into the upcoming season.

Top 20 at a Glance

1. Bobby Ryan, RW
2. Ryan Getzlaf, C
3. Corey Perry, RW
4. Dustin Penner, LW
5. Mark Mitera, D
6. Brendan Mikkelson, D
7. Bryce Swan, RW
8. J.P. Levasseur, G
9. Maxim Kondratiev, D
10. Brett Skinner, D
11. David McKee, G
12. Ryan Shannon, C
13. Shane O’Brien, D
14. Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau, RW
15. Drew Miller, LW
16. Brian Salcido, D
17. Tim Brent, C
18. Aaron Rome, D
19. Curtis Glencross, LW
20. Kyle Klubertanz, D

The Top 20 ranking is based on long-term impact on the hockey club and is not a reflection of who is closest to making the NHL. Players are assigned a grade per HF Criteria. Other factors that help determine ranking order to varying degrees include: player age, draft position, current league and team quality, location (North America or Europe) and foreseeable opportunity.

Key: Rank (former rank), name, position – age

1. (1), Bobby Ryan, RW – 19
Grade: 8.5C, Projection: First line power forward
After two seasons as one of the top offensive stars in the Ontario Hockey League, Bobby Ryan is looking for a new challenge. With 184 points in his last 121 regular season games with the Owen Sound Attack, the Ducks top pick in 2005 has little left to prove at the junior level. Unfortunately, he may find himself back there
this season. Anaheim’s roster remains relatively unchanged from the end of their playoff run, with the only major departure (Joffrey Lupul) being theoretically replaced by the return of Stanislav Chistov. Ryan finds himself as a “tweener”, probably too good for the OHL, but maybe not good enough for the NHL. He would best be served spending this season in the AHL, like when he joined the
Portland Pirates for their playoff run last season (one goal and eight points in 19 games). Unfortunately, due to the NHL/CHL agreement, Portland is not an
option for him this year.

However, if the past is any indication, the Ducks have shown that they will not hold a player back if he is deserving of a shot at the NHL. Ryan is already signed to an entry-level contract, and the rest is up to him. If he performs well in training camp, he could start the season with the Ducks. Even if he is unable to stick in the NHL, Ryan would be returning to an Owen Sound team that is an early favorite to compete for the OHL championship. He also is eligible to represent the USA at the World Juniors for a second season.

2. (2), Ryan Getzlaf, C – 21
Grade: 8.0B, Projection: Top six forward
For all intents and purposes, Ryan Getzlaf is an NHL player. Coming in 14th in the NHL in the rookie scoring race with 14 goals and 39 points in 57 games, Getzlaf also had seven points, including three goals in 16 playoff games. Most impressive was his play with the man advantage, accounting for more
than 60 percent of his points scored during the regular season. Add in his 33 points in his 17 games in the AHL and it becomes even more obvious that this former WHL star belongs in Anaheim.

In his sophomore year, Getzlaf will be counted on to take on an even larger role with the Ducks. He is expected to provide secondary scoring behind the top line pairing of Andy McDonald and Teemu Selanne as well as contribute on the
power play. The acquisition of Chris Pronger could mean that his usual position last season on the point alongside Scott Niedermayer is no longer for certain, however his totals should still improve given his additional year of seasoning and the likelihood of playing the full year with the Ducks. After improving in leaps and bounds throughout last season, Getzlaf could still benefit from using his size consistently and making strides in the faceoff circle.

3. (3), Corey Perry, RW – 21
Grade: 8.0B, Projection: Top six forward
Like Getzlaf, Corey Perry has already proven his mettle at the NHL level. He scored 13 goals and 25 points in 56 regular season games and added another three assists in 11 playoff games. In addition to those totals, he tallied 34 points in a 19-game stint in the AHL with the Portland Pirates. He also showed a propensity to agitate the opposition and draw penalties. While not as much as an all-around player as Getzlaf, his frequent linemate and fellow 2003 first rounder, Perry could end up as a more prolific scorer.

As mentioned with Getzlaf, Perry will be counted on to take a larger role with the Ducks, especially now that
Lupul and his 28 goals will be lacing up in Edmonton. Perry may not be able to immediately replace that missing offense, as he is still adjusting to the speed and the physical play at the NHL level, but the Ducks have high hopes for the former OHL star.

4. (6), Dustin Penner, LW – 23
Grade: 8.0C, Projection: Top six forward
While fellow Anaheim rookie forwards Getzlaf and Perry spent most of the season in California proving their worth, Dustin Penner waited until the playoffs to show he
belonged in the NHL. After a regular season that saw him play 19 games in the NHL, tallying seven points and 57 games in the AHL, finishing with 84 points, Penner was second amongst all NHL rookies with three goals and nine points in 13 playoff games.

With his size and ability to rule both the boards and in front of the net, Penner brings a lot to the lineup even when he’s not scoring. Add in his soft touch around the net, and it’s clear why the organization has big plans for the Manitoba native. Penner is still eligible to compete for the Calder
Trophy in the 2006-07 season and if he gets time on a scoring line as expected, he could mount a valiant challenge
as the league’s top rookie.

5. (NR), Mark Mitera, D – 18
Grade: 7.5C, Projection: Top four defenseman
When Mark Mitera was drafted, he stated that he likes to mold his game after Chris Pronger. As a sign of commitment for their new first round pick, the Ducks took that comment to heart and soon traded for the all-star blue liner. All jokes aside, with the departure of
Smid, Mitera instantly becomes the Ducks top prospect on the blueline. After scoring just 10 assists in his 39 games as a college freshman, Mitera’s forte is playing at his team’s end of the ice.

Mitera is a lock to return to the
Michigan Wolverines this fall and the Ducks can afford to take it slow with the Michigan native. He’ll spend at least another two seasons in the NCAA before turning pro. He will also play for Team USA at the World Juniors this winter, after finishing last year’s tournament as one of the team’s top blueliners. If everything goes well, in a few years Mitera could be learning from Pronger from a much closer proximity, as his new defensive partner.

6. (5), Brendan Mikkelson, D – 19
Grade: 7.5C, Projection: Top four defenseman
After a disastrous 2005-06 season, Brendan Mikkelson is looking to rebound. A myriad of injuries caused him to miss all but 22 regular season games and the entire Vancouver Giant playoff run which culminated with an appearance at the Memorial Cup. Still recovering from knee surgery, Mikkelson is skating, but did not participate in the Canadian World Juniors summer camp, although he is expected to be ready for Anaheim’s training camp in the fall.

Provided he can rebound effectively, Mikkelson will be a counted on to play a huge role with the Vancouver Giants in 2006-07. The Giants have lost a number of key contributors on the blue line and will be looking for players like Mikkelson to step up to fill the void. Vancouver will also be hosting the Memorial Cup, providing
him an excellent chance at redemption after watching his teammates compete from the sidelines this past spring. Mikkelson could also find himself playing for Team Canada at the World Juniors if he can show that he is capable of playing at a high level once again.

7. (NR), Bryce Swan, RW – 18
Grade: 7.5C, Projection: Second line forward
On a list full of players who missed long periods of time during the 2005-06 season, newly-drafted forward Bryce Swan fits right in. Swan played in just 34 games with the Halifax Mooseheads in the QMJHL, scoring 14 goals and finishing with 25 points. In 11 playoff games, he had two goals and seven points, good enough for second on the team.
Swan was touted as a potential first round pick early last season, however, by the time the draft rolled around, teams appeared to shy away from the gritty winger after he missed so much time. Now Anaheim hopes that they were able to grab first round talent with their 38th overall pick.

With the majority of Halifax’s top scorers now gone, Swan will be called upon to be one of their top offensive weapons as well as leader both on and off the ice in the upcoming season. Provided he can remain healthy, these expectations should be well within reach of the big Nova Scotian.

8. (7), Jean-Phillipe Levasseur, G – 19
Grade: 7.5C, Projection: Starting goaltender
After dropping in the 2005 draft due to a lack of playing time in the second half of the season, Jean-Phillipe Levasseur made sure that wondering when his next start would come was no longer an issue in 2005-06. The Victoriaville native played in 58 games for Rouyn-Noranda, accumulating a 35-19-3 record. Facing just over 31 shots a game, he posted a save percentage of
.891 and a goals against average of 3.42. In the QMJHL playoffs, he wasn’t as fortunate despite improved statistics, posting a record of 1-4 with a 3.23 goals against average and a save percentage of
.913 as the Huskies were eliminated by the Shawinigan Cataractes.

One of the few goaltending prospects in the Anaheim pipeline, Levasseur is the closest the Ducks have to a goaltender of the future. A classic Quebec butterfly netminder, he’s a lock to return to Rouyn-Noranda for another season as their starter. In addition to his play in the QMJHL, Levasseur could be playing for Team Canada at the World Juniors, after a strong showing at the summer camp.

9. (11), Maxim Kondratiev, D – 23
Grade: 7.0C, Projection: Second pairing defenseman
Already making his way through two organizations, Maxim Kondratiev may be leaving the third, albeit temporarily. The Russian blue liner, originally a Maple Leafs draft pick, was acquired from the New York Rangers during the 2005-06 season and seems to be planning to return to his home country for the upcoming season. He played in a total of 41 AHL games last season between Hartford and Portland, scoring four goals and finishing with 17 points. He also saw 29 games of NHL action with the Rangers, scoring a goal and totaling
three points. However, the AHL playoffs was when Kondratiev truly proved his worth, scoring 5 goals and 14 points in 13 playoff games.

With a total of 36 NHL games experience, Kondratiev would have been a strong contender to fill out the bottom pairing of the Ducks in 2006-07. Instead, he’ll be playing for Lada Togliatti in Russia. This isn’t the first time the smooth-skating defenseman has returned to his homeland from North America, having twice exercised a contract clause to play in Russia after being sent to the AHL. The situation is a little different this time around, however, with a disagreement over a new contract being pointed to as the cause. Anaheim will no doubt re-evaluate Kondratiev’s position in the organization again during the next offseason.

10. (10), Brett Skinner, D – 22
Grade: 7.0C, Projection: Second pairing defenseman
After less than a year of pro hockey, Brett Skinner rejoined the GM who drafted him in 2002, this time in Anaheim. Brian Burke traded Keith Carney at the NHL trade deadline to the Vancouver Canucks, the team he formerly managed, for Skinner, a smooth-skating offensive defenseman. The former Denver University blueliner remained with the Canucks farm team in Manitoba for the remainder of the season, where he enjoyed a solid freshman year. In 65 games with the Moose, Skinner scored four goals (two on the
power play) and finished the season with 25 points. This placed him second on the team in defensive scoring. In the 13 playoff games that followed, he had another four assists.

Skinner is expected to join the Portland Pirates this fall where he will be called upon to help replace the offense lost by the trading of Smid and the departure of
Kondratiev to Russia. A skilled playmaker, Skinner struggled at times last season adapting to the speed and the physical play in the AHL. Although he improved as the year went on, Skinner will have to continue to make strides in these areas as time goes by. He’ll get one of the first cracks at quarterbacking the Pirates
power play.

11. (9), Ryan Shannon, C – 23
Grade: 6.5C, Projection: Scoring line forward
Ryan Shannon’s rookie season could not have gone much better for the Connecticut native. Shannon was one of Portland’s top performers all season long with 27 goals and 86 points in 71 games as well as another 22 points in 19 playoff games. He finished the year second in AHL rookie scoring and ninth overall in the league, while his postseason play was tops amongst all rookies.

Shannon’s offensive talent is undeniable. A wizard with the puck, he uses his diminutive size to his advantage, allowing him to elusively enter the opposing zone and set up plays. The new rules are supposed to benefit players like Shannon and while he once might have been dismissed for lacking size, he may find it that much easier to take the next step now. Although he has yet to see any action at the NHL level, his production to date speaks for itself. Shannon is likely one of the first injury call-ups to Anaheim if a forward goes down. Unfortunately for him, this does mean he’s likely to spend his sophomore year back in Maine. If he can continue to rack up points like he has so far, however, his shot at the NHL may not be too far off.

12. (13), Shane O’Brien, D – 23
Grade: 6.5B, Projection: Third pairing defenseman
There is little left for Shane O’Brien to do at the AHL level. In his third season in the minors, he led Portland defensemen with eight goals and 41 points in 77 games. This placed him 15th overall among all AHL defensemen, while his 287 penalty minutes led the Pirates and placed him sixth in the league. Amazingly, O’Brien stepped up his game even further when the games turned meaningful during the
playoffs, leading all AHL defensemen and coming in tied for second on his team with 22 points in 19 games.

The next step awaits for Shane O’Brien; his strong play, coupled with Kondratiev’s return to Russia places him the favorite to fill out the Ducks defensive pairings. Although he may not ever dominate the NHL like he has in the AHL, he could round out to be a decent
No. 4 or 5 defender who plays with some grit in his game and can also contribute offensively. Still a fair distance away from being able to be trusted with any significant minutes at the NHL level, the first step to establishing himself as an NHL-caliber player will be reducing the number of penalties he takes.

13. (15), Pierre Parenteau, RW – 23
Grade: 6.5C, Projection: Third line forward
For the second season in a row, Pierre Parenteau was able to rebound from a hardship and finish the year with career totals. After spending last season stuck on the third line before a few key injuries gave him the chance he needed to grab a spot on a scoring line, Parenteau suffered a broken wrist during the Ducks rookie camp. He returned to the Portland lineup in December and never looked back. Parenteau finished the season with 22 goals and 49 points in 56 games, placing him third on the team in scoring. Meanwhile, in the playoffs, he potted five goals and had 22 points in 19 games as well as a team high +13.

A ninth round pick in 2001, Parenteau is slowly but surely proving himself to be a steal. He’s worked hard to address his shortcomings and his development has advanced in leaps and bounds. Parenteau will be called upon to be one of Portland’s go-to offensive players and is all but guaranteed a spot on a scoring. If he can play like he did after coming back from injury and in the playoffs, as well as stay healthy, he could find himself in Anaheim sooner or later. Signed to a one-year contract this offseason, Parenteau will be out to show he’s ready to take the next step.

14. (NR), David McKee, G – 22
Grade: 6.5C, Projection: Journeyman goaltender
Signed by Anaheim after a stellar college career that saw him backstop Cornell University to having the
fourth-best defense in the NCAA last season, David McKee turned pro a year early to look for a new challenge. During his time at Cornell University, he set a number of school records for his 65-24-13 career record and a career GAA of 1.71 as well as a career save percentage of .926. Last season alone, his record was 22-9-4, posting a save percentage of .910 and a goals against average of 2.08.

Although Anaheim’s luck with record-breaking college goaltenders isn’t pretty (remember Eddie Ferhi?), McKee will be given every chance to win the starting job in Portland for the upcoming season. It was only after negotiations turned sour with Ilya Bryzgalov that the team signed veteran Michael Leighton. This move ensured the Ducks won’t be forced to rush McKee to the NHL, if a contract with Bryzgalov cannot be reached. Possessing intriguing potential, the Texas native is a valuable addition to a team woefully thin on goaltending depth.

15. (19), Drew Miller, LW – 22
Grade: 6.0B, Projection: Checking line forward
A captain with Michigan State, Drew Miller advanced his jump to the pro ranks by a year, signing a two-year NHL contract after his college season came to a close. Primarily known as a defensive forward, Miller showed just as much skill at either end of the ice for the Spartans in the 2005-06 season. In 44 games, he scored 18 goals and had a total of 43 points. After signing with the Ducks, he played in a single AHL playoff game with the Pirates.

Miller should no doubt return to Portland after training camp this fall. His skill at both ends of the ice along with his willingness to play with some grit in his game will no doubt endear himself to fans of the Pirates. He’ll need to continue to round out his game and add further strength to be successful at the minor pro level. Like all players making the transition from college to pro, another hurdle for Miller will be dealing with the longer schedule, which may wear on him as the season goes on.

16. (16), Brian Salcido, D – 21
Grade: 6.5C, Projection: Powerplay quarterback
After three seasons with Colorado College, Brian Salcido opted to forgo his senior year and turn pro. The California native signed a three-year entry-level deal with the Ducks at the beginning of August after scoring 40 points in 42 WCHA games. He was especially potent quarterbacking the top
power play in the NCAA, scoring six of his eight goals on the man advantage.

If Salcido can bring even a fraction of his offensive skill to Portland this fall, he should be a lock to see some
power-play time for the AHL affiliate. The Pirates have already lost Smid and Kondratiev and could also be without O’Brien and Bruno St. Jacques, so the opportunity is there to excel. Salcido may have
quite some time before he competes for a spot in Anaheim, but if he is capable of stepping into a similar role with the Pirates that he filled in the NCAA, it would go a long way towards proving his long-term value in the organization.

17. (8), Aaron Rome, D – 22
Grade: 6.0B, Projection: Third pairing defenseman
After a coming out party during the 2004-05 AHL playoffs with six points in 12 games (good enough to tie for third on the team), some thought Aaron Rome would break out during his second pro season. Unfortunately, injuries and numerous changes on the Portland blue line changed that. Although Rome improved on his rookie campaign totals with five goals and 24 points in 64 games, he clearly had difficulty rebounding from a broken jaw suffered during an off-ice incident. In the playoffs, he saw action in 18 games, scoring once and finishing with five points.

Perhaps this season is the one in which Rome breaks out and advances that much closer to a spot in the NHL. Assuming Shane O’Brien makes the Ducks, Rome could have the prime opportunity to take over those duties in the lineup. His mixture of grit, offensive ability and defensive prowess would be exactly what the Pirates would be looking for. However, the extra time and responsibilities won’t be handed to him, with a number of players like Brett Skinner, Brian Salcido and Clay Wilson all joining the Pirates and challenging for ice time as well. Rome needs to establish himself as a top defender with the Pirates to ensure that he isn’t passed over by prospects with higher potential.

18. (12), Tim Brent, C – 22
Grade: 6.0B, Projection: Two way forward
A large number of questions remain as Tim Brent enters the third and final season of his entry-level contract. To date, he has been unable to stay healthy at the professional level, playing in just 83 of a possible 160 games over the past two seasons. When he is healthy, he brings a mix of offensive flair, defensive prowess and grit to the Pirates lineup. In the 37 games he did play in 2005-06, he was productive with 15 goals and 24 points, but the trick is staying off the injured reserve.

When he was first drafted, it was thought that Brent would have an outside chance of becoming a second-line
center in the NHL some day. For now, his short-term focus should be on winning that position at the AHL level. After the expected top unit to be led by Ryan Shannon, there are a bevy of forwards who could play the pivot position on another scoring line. Brent definitely has the ability to be right in the thick of things; the only question is whether or not he can stay healthy enough to take advantage of this opportunity.

19. (17), Curtis Glencross, LW – 23
Grade: 6.5C, Projection: Third line forward
As time goes by, memories of Curtis Glencross dominating Anaheim’s rookie camp and their NHL training camp two years ago continue to fade. He’s faced plenty of hardship since then and has seen players such as
Penner pass by him on the depth chart. A gritty winger, Glencross’s misfortunes can be traced to his rambunctious style that often leaves him sitting on the sidelines with a variety of injuries. In 2005-06, he played in 41 regular season games with Portland, posting 15 goals and 25 points, with 85 penalty minutes. He was healthy enough to play in all 19 of the Pirates playoff games, scoring four goals and finishing with 10 points and 37 penalty minutes.

With the departure of Zenon Konopka to Russia and the expectation Penner, Getzlaf and Perry will spend the 2006-07 season in California, Glencross has an excellent opportunity to grab a larger role with the Pirates. Already entering his third AHL season, which also happens to be a contract year for the Red Deer native, he’ll have to remain healthy and show that he can dominate the play on the ice at a consistent basis in order to ensure his NHL dreams stay alive.

20. (16), Kyle Klubertanz, D – 20
Grade: 6.5C, Projection: Powerplay quarterback
Unlike Brian Salcido, his fellow WCHA blue liner, Kyle Klubertanz will be returning to Wisconsin instead of turning pro. Entering his junior season with the Badgers, Klubertanz was a key part of the Wisconsin defense that was ranked first overall in the NCAA. In 43 games played, he scored four goals and had a total of 21 points, improving on his freshman year totals in every category. Wisconsin had the fourth-best
power play in the WCHA, and Klubertanz contributed three power-play goals to that cause.

Primarily known as a puck-moving blue liner, Klubertanz will be looked at to take an even larger role with the Badgers now that their top defenseman, Tom Gilbert, has graduated and signed a contract with the Edmonton Oilers. With these increased responsibilities, Klubertanz has the chance to break out as one of the top offensive defensemen in the NCAA. Although he needs to continue to improve his defensive play, having Hobey Baker finalist Brian Elliott (OTT) between the pipes allows him to rebound from his mistakes. With the number of prospects Anaheim currently has in
its system, Klubertanz will probably be best served to finish his college career before turning pro.

Missing the Cut

John Degray, D – 18
Grade: 6.5C, Projection: Third pairing defenseman
Rising as high as the first round in some rankings prior to the 2005-06 season, John Degray found himself being picked in the third round after the offensive skills he displayed in midget did not make the leap to the OHL. A defensive defenseman,
Degray may never light up a league offensively, but he plays a steady, reliable game in his own end. A virtual guarantee to return to Brampton this fall, Degray could end up being a shrewd pick for the Ducks if he continues to develop.

Matt Auffrey, RW – 20
Grade: 6.0C, Projection: Checking line forward
Matt Auffrey’s gamble to leave the NCAA for the OHL has paid off marvelously. The increased ice time resulted in a strong 50-point effort, placing him sixth in scoring for Kitchener as a 19-year-old. After the Rangers were eliminated from the OHL playoffs, he was able to join the Ducks AHL affiliate for two regular season games, earning an assist. Ironically, Auffrey was later released in favor of Bobby Ryan, who played for the Owen Sound Attack, the team that eliminated Kitchener and sent Auffrey packing to Portland in the first place. Due to his time in the NCAA, Auffrey doesn’t need to be signed by Anaheim until after next season, his over-age year in the OHL.

Ryan Carter, C – 23
Grade: 6.0C, Projection: Checking line forward
A surprise addition to the pipeline, Ryan Carter signed with the Ducks as a free agent after two seasons with Minnesota State. Carter made a name for himself in the WCHA with his gritty play, his hard shot and his faceoff ability, all attributes that should serve him well with the Pirates. He will be asked to help replace the offense and the intangibles lost when
Konopka chose to play in Russia for the 2006-07 season.

Colby Genoway, C – 22
Grade: 6.0C, Projection: Checking line forward
A free agent signing this summer, Colby Genoway joins the organization after a superb rookie campaign with the Hartford Wolfpack in the AHL where he scored 26 goals and 61 points in 77 games, as well as
four goals and 12 points in 13 playoff games. A former offensive star with the Fighting Sioux in the NCAA, Genoway will now bring his all-around game to the Portland Pirates. Questions remain on whether or not the Manitoba native has the ability to take his game to the next level, but the opportunity exists for him to be a big part of the 2006-07 Pirates squad.

Copyright 2006 Hockey’s Future. Do not
reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.