Photo courtesy of Adidas Hockey and the NHL
Welcome to the December (sounds so weird to say) 2020 edition of the DobberProspects 31-in-31 Series! This month, we will be diving into the depth of each organization, looking at their recent graduates, risers, fallers and top 20 prospects.
We are ending the year on a happy note that will hopefully translate into some NHL hockey to start the new year. In a year unlike any other, I hope everyone survived, thrived and came out stronger because if we can get through this year, we can get through anything.
Now onto some hockey.
The Anaheim Ducks are looking at another middling season. They still have a number of veterans on their team and the youth is slowly being infused. Their top prospect, Trevor Zegras, left Boston University and signed his entry-level contract and the team had a fantastic haul at the 2020 Draft.
With a number of players on loan out to European teams, let’s take a look at some of those prospects.
Jacob Larsson – Even though he just graduated from prospect status as he signed a two-year, one-way contract extension this summer, Larsson is still only 23 years old. In five games for Sweden’s Kristianstads IK, he has two assists. The former first-rounder has not looked the same after suffering a terrible knee injury during the 2016-17 season. He needs all the reps he can get to turn into a viable NHL defenseman, but one who will be more valuable in real life than on your fantasy team.
Isac Lundestrom – Lundestrom has been loaned to Times IK and has produced 11 points in 12 games. Ducks management love their Swedes so they will continue to let him develop, but they are already very high on his game as he has played 15 NHL games in each of his first two professional seasons. If he can continue to have success in Europe before the season, he will have a lot of steam coming into NHL camp and force the brass to make some tough decisions.
Hunter Drew – Not considered an offensive defenseman, Drew recently scored four goals and added an assists in one game for HC Banska Bustrica. He is up to 12 points in 12 games with 57 penalty minutes. If your league counts the dirty stats (PIMS, hits, blocks), the Kingston native is known for his rough, in your face style of play and will be good for those peripheral categories, but also has the ability to find his name in the score box occasionally as well.
Axel Andersson – After playing his first season in North America, Andersson found himself back in Sweden because of the pandemic. He is on loan to Sodertalje SK and has been nothing short of consistent. He is a solid skater and plays a smart game. Coming over at the trade deadline from the Boston Bruins, Andersson is a player coaches can rely on in defensive spots, but not someone fantasy managers should depend on.
Lukas Dostal – After winning the award for Best Goaltender in the Liiga last season, Dostal looks like he could repeat this season. Thus far, he is 10-1 with a 1.64 GAA, a sparkling .941 save percentage and one shutout.
He is coming over to Anaheim for the team’s training camp (whenever that is) and will bid for the backup role this season. With Ryan Miller undecided on his return, the Ducks will need a capable backup with John Gibson’s injury history and a condensed NHL schedule on the horizon. Gibson is currently in his second year of a massive eight-year contract so the number one job is his, but it would be nice to see Dostal on North American ice as there is nothing left to prove over in Europe.
The Ducks had a number of players graduate from the AHL to the NHL in 2019-20 and with management bringing in Sonny Milano and Danton Heinen at the trade deadline, the main roster is locked up. However, guys like Zegras and Maxime Comtois have the talent to battle for a roster spot during training camp and have the potential to be in the big league this season.
Graduating from College/Junior to Pro
Trevor Zegras – Zegras spent one year in college and that’s all she wrote. Bob Murray and co. liked what they saw at BU and during the World Juniors and what is there not to like. He plays fast, hard and has elite vision. The center registered nine assists (all primary) during the holiday tournament and 36 points in 33 games for the Terriers. He has the talent to become an NHLer as early as this season and could be a dark horse in the race for the Calder Trophy.
Bryce Kindopp, RW
The undrafted forward signed with the Ducks after finishing his final two junior seasons with *almost* back-to-back 40 goal seasons and over 70 points in both years. Where the team really sees potential is on the other side of the puck. His coaches in Everett have praised his development in all three zones, which earned him a three-year contract. He will spend the season in the AHL learning the pro game but could have a future as an energy player.
BO Groulx, C
Groulx didn’t finish his junior career on a tremendous pace, but rather a consistent one. He scored at least 28 goals in three of his four seasons and was relied upon in all three zones. His transition to pro hockey should not be a bumpy one as he has size and plays a big game already. The French native possesses tremendous leadership ability as well and could be a player you can rely on to provide help in almost every fantasy category.
Jack Badini, C/LW
Badini has left Harvard after his junior season and if you look at his stats, nothing will pop out at you. His career bests are 10 (goals) and 20 (points), but it is his play away from the puck that earned him his NHL contract. The Ducks love his hockey IQ and he will have a chance to show them off in the AHL this season, but he shouldn’t be on anyone fantasy radars for a while.
As is the case with every team every season, players take the next step and others fall behind. Here are a few risers and fallers in the Ducks organization
Lukas Dostal – Dostal is coming over from Europe to participate in the Ducks training camp. With no backup set in stone as of right now, he could see some NHL action this season. After winning the Goaltender of the Year Award last year and not missing a beat at the start of this season, his confidence is sky high to steal the job. In most seasons, you would think he would start in the AHL to get those reps for his development, but this has been no ordinary year. With the NHL having a majorly condensed schedule this season, teams will need two competent goalies to compete and this would be the perfect time to see if he is ready for the big leagues or needs more development time.
Hunter Drew – Playing in Europe on loan has given Drew new confidence. He has found his confidence with the puck again and if he can translate that back to North American ice, he could make his NHL debut this season. He won’t be getting any power play time in the show, but he will contribute to peripheral categories for your fantasy league and could chip in with some points every so often.
Henry Thrun – In his first collegiate season, Thrun registered 21 points in 31 games and made the ECAC All-Rookie Team. The former 4th round pick has also made Team USA’s preliminary roster for the 2021 World Junior Championship. Many thought he was benefitting from playing on a stacked USNTDP, but in fact he may have been one of the reason’s that team experienced so much success. Keep him on your radar as he continues to rise.
Brendan Guhle – When the Ducks drafted Jamie Drysdale and signed Kodie Curran and Kevin Shattenkirk, that put a number of hurdles in front Guhle. He hasn’t been able to stay healthy in the Ducks organization, which has hindered his ability to fully develop and get both feet wet. If he can play a full year and showcase his puck moving abilities, he has the potential to quarterback a second power-play unit.
Brayden Tracey – Tracey was hindered by a couple of different injuries in 2019-20 and was not able to repeat his draft year success. Couple that with the fact his line mates from that season aged out and many started to think he was the beneficiary of playing with stronger, more mature talent. However, he still displayed his goal scoring ability for the Warriors and the Royals, putting it in the net from a number of different spots on the ice. Now could be a time to buy low.
Josh Mahura – Much like Guhle, Mahura’s chances of making the big squad have been squandered by the addition of multiple defensemen this offseason. He is an offensive defenseman with a big shot so he brings a different skill set than Guhle, but nonetheless. With more competition, it will hopefully bring out a better Mahura and potentially see his name on the ‘Risers’ list next offseason.
Organization Depth Chart
*This depth chart is a mixture of upside/who could get called up first
Chase De Leo
Olle Eriksson Ek
Top 20 Prospects
- Trevor Zegras
- Jamie Drysdale
- Maxime Comtois
- Jacob Perreault
- Lukas Dostal
- Isac Lundestrom
- BO Groulx
- Sam Colangelo
- Brayden Tracey
- Josh Mahura
- Jackson LaCombe
- Bryce Kindopp
- Blake McLaughlin
- Brendan Guhle
- Hunter Drew
- Maxim Golod
- Henry Thrun
- Jack Badini
- Kodie Curran
- Antoine Morand
I hope everyone has a great end to their year and we can start fresh in 2021. Follow me on Twitter @LAM1926.