The Ducks won't have to wait long for many of their prospects to get a full time roster spot. Anaheim has quickly re-stocked the cupboard over the past four drafts and has done a good job scouting talent. Aside from Bobby Ryan, this group does not have the flash and dash. But these Ducklings all have a chance to play in the NHL. This group is largely comprised of second-to-fourth round picks that could produce role players needed to remain a consistent contender. Most of the names on this list are unknown by many pundits, but the Ducks have not be given the credit they deserve.
The last crop of prospects (Dustin Penner, Joffrey Lupul, Ladislav Smid and Shane O'Brien) were all were developed by the Ducks, but now play for other teams. Both Petteri Wirtanen and Brian Salcido have graduated off this list because of games played as professionals and have been given a small taste in the NHL.
The defence has good depth and talent, with Brendan Mikkelson, Mark Mitera, Jake Gardiner, Justin Schultz, Brett Festerling, John DeGray and Steve Kampfer. But none of them stand out as a potential top defenceman in the NHL. The club does like mobility in its blueliners - and Gardiner, Schultz, Mitera, Festerling and Mikkelson certainly have that in spades.
On the offensive side, they have blossoming power forward Bobby Ryan - who took the NHL by storm once he was given the opportunity to play. Logan MacMillan, Matt Beleskey, Nicolas Deschamps, Nick Bonino, Brandon McMillan, Maxim Macenauer and Josh Brittain all had good seasons this year. Among them, only Beleskey played in the AHL this season.
They may have one top end netminder to groom in Timo Pielmeier - who they received in a trade from San Jose. The other three goaltenders in the system (Marco Cousineau, Mattias Modig and Sebastian Stefaniszin) are long-term projects. That's not to say one of these netminders won't develop into an NHL netminder (like Jonas Hiller), but it is unlikely.
So expect the Ducks to take a skilled centre early - if available - and perhaps another netminder to groom in the upcoming NHL draft.
1. Bobby Ryan – Right Wing, 22 (1st round 2nd overall 2005)
Currently with Anaheim (NHL)
Ryan stays on this list, but only for this edition because of the number of total pro games played. There are no doubts about him coming off this list next year. When you get the chance to draft a bull with the hands of a painter, you don't blink an eye. At 6-1 and 213 pounds, he's the power forward Anaheim has been waiting for - in the mold of Todd Bertuzzi. His hockey sense is at an elite level and he possesses the ability to stickhandle in heavy traffic. His skating has improved and Ryan has the quickness to get separation down low. His heavy, accurate shot fools most goalies and he can score goals in bunches. Away from the puck, Ryan has shown improvement in recognizing when to fill in a lanes and taking better angles to the puck carrier. His goal-scoring prowess and point productions has been proven throughout his junior and brief AHL career. Over his last two seasons in the OHL, he posted 197 points in 122 games while only taking 107 penalty minutes. That offensive talent translated quickly to the AHL, as the rookie had 49 points in 48 games and earned 23-game stint in the NHL. It took him a little while to adjust to the NHL, with 10 points in those 23 games. This season, Ryan got the opportunity to suit up in the NHL full-time and has proven he's there to stay.
2. Jake Gardiner – Defence, 18 (1st round 17th overall 2008)
Currently with Wisconsin (NCAA)
The converted forward has all the makings of a highly talented offensive defenceman, but he will need time and patience to complete the transformation. The advantage of being a forward in the past is that his puck skills are more finely defined than most of his peers. He makes great passes out of his zone and has the vision to decipher the intersecting traffic. His stickhandling allows him to create time and space for himself and act like a fourth forward on the rush. He rarely panics with the puck and can be a menace for the opposition in the transition game. Another strong suit of his game is the fact he can skate exceptionally well and has the quickness and agility to separate and avoid forecheckers. He has the potential size at 6-2 and 181 pounds, but Gardiner will need to gain strength and weight to battle one-on-one. If Anaheim is patient with him and lets him develop in college, they may have a solid and potentially exceptional offensive defenceman.
3. Mark Mitera – Defence, 21 (1st round 19th overall 2006)
Currently with Iowa (AHL)
He has all the tools to be a good defenceman in the NHL with his mobility and hockey sense and a big frame at 6-4 and 213 pounds. He made good strides in his development, does not get rattled under pressure and shows poise and makes a solid outlet pass. He can contribute offensively, with 51 points in 123 games and 171 penalty minutes from the blue line. It will be interesting to see how he adjusts to full-time duty at the pro game next season with the higher tempo and speed. He keeps solid body position and gap control and could become a valuable No. 3 defenceman one day in the NHL.
4. Brendan Mikkelson – Defence, 21 (2nd round 31st overall 2005)
Currently with Iowa/Anaheim (AHL/NHL)
This lanky blueliner will require time to grow into his frame and work on his defensive responsibilities. His skating is excellent and it allows him cover ground quickly. He could be one of the best skaters not in the NHL. He shows some vision, is a decent passer and can handle some power play time. He put up 70 points in 224 games with a minus-1 rating and 204 penalty minutes for his career in the WHL. In his rookie season in the AHL, he had a decent year with 16 points in 66 games and a minus-5 rating. He still needs work on his overall game, but he will be able to draw on his experience from winning the Memorial Cup. He has not shown the hockey sense to be a top three defenceman, but could be a solid No. 4 or No. 5 at his peak.
5. Brett Festerling – Defence, 23 (Free Agent Signing 2006)
Currently with Iowa/Anaheim (AHL/NHL)
A five-year veteran of the WHL has proven to be a wise signing by the Ducks has he displays a host of intangibles. He had 69 points in 314 games and a career +46 rating and 205 penalty minutes. Although not big at 6 foot 1 and 200 pounds Festerling gets by on smarts, poise and good skating ability. His hockey sense is sound and is in the right place to block a pass, lift a stick or tie up a player when needed. Now Festerling is not expected to produce much offense at the NHL level, but he can make up for that with being reliable. He shows good leadership being the captain of a Memorial Cup team and most importantly he is accountable on and off the ice. Had a decent rookie season in AHL and had 14 points in 74 games and just needs some time to develop. His second season as a pro was split between the NHL and AHL and he showed promise and poise playing alongside Chris Pronger.
6. Timo Pielmeier – Goalie, 19 (3rd round 83rd overall 2007 – Trade from San Jose)
Currently with Shawinigan (QMJHL)
The German netminder is in his second season in the QMJHL and has surprised many with his solid performance. He has made a quick adjustment to the North American game, which shows his determination and work ethic. Now the game in Germany is not entirely different, but the change of speed and the angles usually make things difficult for goalies coming over. He is a lanky goalie that will need to add strength to his frame to reduce injury and fatigue. But despite his lack of girth, he does remain in a compact frame and uses his angles well. He shows he can be aggressive at the appropriate times and take away scoring opportunities. He shows good quickness and lateral movement, with surprising rebound control for a young netminder. He flashes a quick glove hand and has been improving his work on the blocker side. His statistics were solid last year with the St. John's Fog Devils, sporting a 23-22-4 record with a 3.00 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage. After changing teams this season, he played well with 29-11-0 record and a .914 save percentage. He will be watched closely to see if he can maintain it consistently throughout the playoffs. If the Ducks are patient with him he could be a future pro goalie for them one day - but at what level is still uncertain.
7. Logan MacMillan - Centre, 19 (1st round 19th overall 2007)
Currently with Rimouski (QMJHL)
He's an honest type of player - a hard working, two-way player that gets his nose dirty and does the little things to help his team win games. He plays an in-your-face style and tries to out-hustle you for every puck. He has underrated passing skills and vision and can find his linemates in close quarters with speed. His skating ability in all areas is good and he finds seams and spots in the defence. He works hard without the puck and plays a smart, safe game without it. He does need to add some strength to his frame and extra power in his stride. Over the past four seasons, he has posted 145 points in 219 games with 254 penalty minutes. He has missed some time because of injury the past couple of seasons, which has impeded his offensive numbers. He is not projected to produce on the top two lines in the NHL, but should be a valuable role player that can contribute offence. He will need a few years in the AHL to round out his overall game.
8. Nicolas Deschamps – Left Wing, 19 (2nd round 35th overall 2008)
Currently with Chicoutimi (QMJHL)
He's an underrated forward that shows good hockey sense, determination and moxie when battling for loose pucks or body position. At 6-2 and 186 pounds, he has not filled out his frame. But once he does, Deschamps should be more effective down low. His puck skills are very good, which have been proven by his 132 points in the last 135 games. In the postseason, his numbers were good with nine points in 10 games - and that shows his willingness to pay a price to produce. He's a solid overall skater who should get better once he adds some additional strength to his core and lower body. He shows some responsible defensive play and could be a reliable player for the Ducks one day.
9. Justin Schultz – Defense, 18 (2nd round 43rd overall 2008)
Currently with Westside (BCHL)
He's a lanky puck possession-style defenceman that has dominated the BCHL at times over the past two seasons. His 90 points in 106 games proves he is able to produce offence from the blueline off the rush and on the power play. His hockey sense and puck skills are good and Schultz makes a nice first pass out of his zone and can hit forwards at full speed. He walks the blue line well on the power play and finds seams to get a pass or shot through. He also skates very well and has the two-step quickness and agility to thwart the speediest of forwards coming down on a rush. He does lose one-one-one pucks battles with larger opponents on occasion, but that should improve once he gets stronger. He will be attending Wisconsin next season, so the Ducks will give him time to round out the rest of his overall game.
10. Matt Beleskey – Left Wing, 20 (4th round, 112th overall 2006)
Currently with Iowa (AHL)
He had four good seasons in the OHL, where he amassed 221 points 257 games along with 467 penalty minutes. He has decent puck skills and is good when parked in the slot and down low. He has the hockey sense to make good decisions and play at the pro level. His skating still needs work and his quickness is sometimes is a factor. He has soft hands and a powerful shot that is heavy and accurate. Beleskey hustles hard in the defensive zone and is dependable on the penalty kill. He plays with grit, passion and is a good leader who steps his game up in the playoffs. His rookie season in Iowa was solid, as Beleskey posted 35 points in 58 games and 58 penalty minutes. He could develop into a fine role player in the NHL if he continues to develop.
11. John de Gray, Defence, 21 (3rd round 83rd overall 2006)
Currently with Iowa (AHL)
He's a typical stay-at-home, no-nonsense defenceman that likes to take care of his own zone and let others have the glory. He has great size and wingspan at 6-4 and 210 pounds, which works well for him when he is battling along the boards or blocking shots. With a few seasons in the AHL, the Ducks could develop DeGray into a role player.
Anaheim Ducks - NHL Entry Draft Record (1997 - 2003)
When looking at the drafting and developing record of a NHL organization it becomes an interesting blend of statistics and circumstances with perhaps some luck thrown in for good measure. Most of the time the General Manager receives kudos for a teams fortunes at the draft table when in reality it is usually never the case in today's NHL. For the most part there are three aspects that make the whole process work; first is the amateur scouting department's ability to evaluate and project talent which may be the most challenging of all. Next the organizations player development department must attempt to mold the prospects by giving the players tools to enhance his talents. Perhaps most importantly is the prospects responsibility to pay the price and sacrifice which generally requires a tremendous work ethic. If one of these aspects fails then the likelihood of a prospect turning into an asset to his organization and having a NHL career becomes remote.
The reason for the analyzing the years from 1997 to 2003 is to first give each NHL organization five years to develop their prospects as players from different leagues evolve differently. Secondly the years from 1997-2003 are the players that should be the building blocks of the core of your team as they will be in the 23-29 year old age range. What makes each organization unique is what they do with the picks they have as management will often trade draft choices for immediate help on their NHL and AHL teams. Now some players may be real late bloomers and eventually make the criteria set in this analysis down the road but at this stage it is fascinating to see the results.
Criteria of NHL games played that deem a player has been drafted and developed successfully.
||Forwards - Defenceman
||125-200 NHL Games required
||51-100 NHL Games Played
||100 NHL Games required
||25-50 NHL Games Played
|Pending Player - Represents a player who has a legitimate chance to make criteria
Anaheim Ducks 1997-2003
Total: 7 yrs – 71 draft picks – 16 NHL Players = 22.5% success rate
Success in the first three rounds (1997-2003)
1st rnd Draft Choices: 7 total picks
Michael Holmqvist (1/18), Alexei Smirnov (1/12)
7 yrs – 7 draft picks – 5 NHL Players = 71.4.7% success rate
2nd rnd Draft Choices: 6 total picks
Maxim Balmochnyhk Mark Popovic, Tim Brent
7 yrs - 6 draft picks – 3 NHL Players = 50.0% success rate
3rd rnd Choices: 6 total picks
Jay Legault, Joel Stepp, Brian Lee, Shane Hynes, Juha Alen
7 yrs – 6 draft picks – 1 NHL Players = 16.6% success rate
7yrs – 19 draft picks – 9 NHL Players = 47.3% success rate in first 3 rounds
First Three Rounds - Developed vs. Prospects/NA vs. Euro
Developed players: (5) North American, (4) European
Undeveloped Prospects: (6) North American, (4) European
Success in the last six round (1997-2003)
4th rnd to 9th rnd Choices: 37 total picks
7 yrs – 37 draft picks – 4 NHL Players = 10.8% success rate
Shane Malloy provides hockey prospect insight and analysis on his Prospect Insider feature on TSN.ca, Canada's leading sports website. Many sports networks, hockey magazines and major newspapers have drawn upon his expertise and knowledge. His passion for the game and involvement in grass roots hockey from the junior hockey to the National Hockey League is evident. He is currently a host and hockey event reporter on XM Sirius Satellite Radio (Home Ice 204) where he co-hosts a hockey radio show on Hockey Prospects and the Business of Hockey.
Prior to joining TSN, Malloy was the columnist-covering prospects for NHL.com for two years and a NHL and prospect columnist Fox Sports.com for six years.
This document is the intellectual property of Shane Malloy and cannot be used or duplicated in anyway without expressed written consent. Any use of this document without the expressed written consent of Shane Malloy will result in public exposure and legal prosecution.