Welcome to our annual 31-in-31 Summer Series here at DobberProspects! Every day in July we will be bringing you a complete breakdown of a team’s draft, notes from their development camp, and insights into their off-season moves so far. Following this up, the August 31-in-31 Series will dive into every team’s prospect depth charts with fantasy insights and implications for the upcoming seasons. Check in often, because we plan on filling your hockey withdrawal needs all summer long!
The Anaheim Ducks did not make the playoffs in 2019 and wound up with the 9th-overall selection in this year’s draft. This marks the first time the Ducks have selected in the single digits since the organization took Hampus Lindholm 6th-overall in 2012. The team also had a second first-round pick, 29th overall, acquired from the Buffalo Sabres in the Brandon Montour trade. With his selections, Bob Murray and his staff refilled the cupboard on defense, drafting four defenders while adding two centers and one left winger.
Murray was as shocked as everyone else when he saw Trevor Zegras sitting there at nine. Considered one of the best playmakers in the draft, Zegras fills a big need for the Ducks. The team does not have a player with his skill set, so having a center who can drive offense and create chances was at a premium for Anaheim.
Anaheim’s top centers are getting a little long in the tooth, with Ryan Getzlaf and Adam Henrique in their 30s and Ryan Kesler possibly not able to play hockey again. With this draft being a center heavy one, this was the perfect opportunity for them to build up the middle and take a future number one. Zegras’ vision is elite and his skating is very good, he just needs to add some muscle. A player that oozes talent, he will head to Boston University this fall and is very likely to be a one and done player for them. If he were playing junior, he would get a look at the start of the season; that is how much skill he has. Don’t let him fall in your fantasy drafts.
As has been the case for the last few seasons, around pick 20 is when you see players going off the board that you didn’t think would go there. And with their second first rounder, the Ducks selected Brayden Tracey. Projected to go in the second round, Anaheim’s group thought he was the best player available because of his skill and patience. He burst onto the WHL scene this season, scoring 36 goals and 81 points in 66 games for Moose Jaw. He was also the winner of the Jim Piggott Trophy, the WHL’s Rookie of the Year award.
Tracey is a player you want to get the puck to. He possesses tremendous hockey sense and isn’t afraid to try something new. His goals came in a variety of fashion last season, something you love to see in a young player. Anaheim has some depth on the left side so they can let Tracey marinate in the dub for two more seasons and let him mature physically while playing in all situations.
Round 2, 39th Overall – Jackson LaCombe, D
After picking up two forwards in the first round, Anaheim focuses on their back end with their second round selection and picks up Jackson LaCombe out of Shattuck St. Mary’s. He is your prototypical NHL defenseman for today’s game. He can move the puck, either by rifling a tape-to-tape pass or skating it out of trouble. His high hockey IQ helps him make smart decisions when he is under pressure. A forward turned defenseman, his skating is his best attribute and loves to jump into the play. He does get caught out of position occasionally, something he’ll need to work on as he gains more experience on the back end. LaCombe has committed to the University of Minnesota for this season and will likely play there for two seasons, but he has big upside as Anaheim does not have a standout offensive defenseman in their system.
Round 4, 101st Overall – Henry Thrun, D
With their fourth selection in 2019, the Ducks picked another defenseman and selected Henry Thrun. He is a big body (six-foot-two) and already 190 pounds. He has good skating for a player with his size, but it is an area he needs to keep improving if he wants to play in the pro ranks. He is a great one-on-one defender because he tightens gaps quick and envisions where the opposing player is going. Thrun has a strong first pass, but besides that he isn’t going to provide a lot offensively. However, he will contribute to those dirty stats if you play in bangers and mash leagues (Keeping Karlsson).
Round 5, 132nd Overall – Trevor Janicke, C
Bob Murray and co went back to the offensive side of the puck with their fifth selection and drafted Trevor Janicke. Captain of his USHL team, Central Illinois Flying Aces, Janicke leads by example. He has a strong work ethic, competing hard in practice and every game. He shows a ton of confidence in his game, always reading the play and making a smart decision with the puck. He will join a group of other Ducks prospects this summer at the USA World Junior Summer Showcase and go the NCAA route to suit up for Notre Dame this fall, a path that will give him lots of practice time to work on his puck skills.
Round 6, 163rd Overall – Will Francis, D
Anaheim dipped back into the defensive pool in round six and selected Will Francis. A big, lanky defender (six-foot-five, 212 pounds), Francis uses his body to force guys off the puck and isn’t afraid to get physical. He finished ninth in the USHL last season in penalty minutes, racking up 131 in 59 games. He will be attending the University of Minnesota-Duluth where he will need to work on his hockey sense, but he could be a future contributor to all categories in your fantasy leagues.
Round 6, 186th Overall – Mathew Hill, D
The Ducks used their last selection to pick another defenseman, Mathew Hill. Playing for Barrie in the OHL, Hill is a physical specimen in his own zone. He overpowers the opposition down low and works hard to get the play going the other way. He doesn’t have much offensive upside so he should only be owned in leagues that count peripheral stats, but not for another four seasons at least.
Anaheim hosted their Prospect Development Camp at the brand new Great Park Ice & FivePoint Arena on June 26-29. The newest seven members of the Ducks family participated, along with some guys who played for the team last season (Sam Steel, Max Comtois, Max Jones, Kiefer Sherwood). Troy Terry and Brendan Guhle were also on the ice partaking in drills. Both players ended the season with injuries and it looks like they will be 100% in September.
Here are a few notes from the camp:
Trevor Zegras scored a hat trick in the final scrimmage and was making play after play.
Lukas Dostal and Olle Eriksson Ek both had good camps. Dostal made some big breakaway saves and was very poised in the crease while OEE stood tall and played with a lot of confidence. Neither of them need to be rushed so they are still a couple of seasons away.
Jackson LaCombe is your modern day NHL defenseman. The puck finds him and he can skate for days. Future powerplay QB in Anaheim.
Blake McLaughlin showed a lot of confidence with the puck and looks bigger and faster than last summer.
Jack Kopacka had a good amount of scoring chances and a tremendous shot. He suffered a scary wrist injury at the start of last season and it looks like he has finally regained his strength in that wrist.
The complete camp roster is below:
Ryan Kesler underwent successful hip resurfacing surgery in May and the team expects him to miss the entire 2019-20 season. This opens a big hole in the middle of the ice, one that was filled by committee last season. Sam Steel saw a lot of time at the end of the season when Kesler shut it down, but another intriguing option is Sam Carrick. The Ducks re-signed him to a one-way deal and Dallas Eakins was a big fan of his in San Diego. Carrick plays that same gritty style as Kesler and is a potential dark horse to win the 4th line center role.
The team also re-signed Ryan Miller to a one year contract. This is unfortunate news for Kevin Boyle, who played really well for the Ducks while John Gibson and Miller were out last season. He will be the starter in San Diego next season and the first goalie to get called up should one of the netminders on the big club goes down.
Derek Grant and Korbinian Holzer were re-signed to one year deals. Grant can play up and down the line up when injuries occur but will most likely be a staple on the 4th line. This could potentially take a spot away from a guy like Kiefer Sherwood, but Grant will be primarily a depth option. Holzer is also a depth guy and new head coach Dallas Eakins liked him in San Diego so he should be a 6/7 option on the team depending on the rest of the off-season. If he does make the lineup, look for him to fill up your hits and blocks categories.
Check back throughout July as the Ducks make moves because we will be updating the outlook of the team with each transaction made.
Lucas Main, @LAM1926
Check back in tomorrow for the Arizona Coyotes entry into the July 31-in-31 Series!
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On this episode: Pat is joined by Ben to discuss prospects in the Central Division who have a chance to make the roster to start, have cups of coffee, or may be up after the trade deadline. This talk is to help fantasy hockey GMs decide on prospects to add, watch or invest in for […]