Welcome to the September 2022 edition of the DobberProspects 32-in-32 Series. This month, we are diving into the depth of each organization, looking at their recent graduates, risers, fallers and top-20 prospects.
Anaheim had a number of young players become staples in their lineup last season. The likes of Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale cemented their NHL readiness, Troy Terry found his confidence, and a number of other Ducks gained some valuable experience. The team should be even younger and more electric this season as the likes of Ryan Getzlaf, Rickard Rakell, and Hampus Lindholm have moved on.
The additions of Ryan Strome and Frank Vatrano will add speed to this lineup and complement the young talent moving up the ranks. It could be another long season for the fans as they patiently wait for the rebuild to finish, but they will be watching some exciting hockey as the team has a number of prospects chomping at the bit. With a number of spots still open, Ducks training camp should be a competitive battle and the young men who win those battles will be quality NHLers.
Mason McTavish – After playing in the NHL, AHL, OHL, Memorial Cup, Winter Olympics, World Championships and the World Juniors, McTavish has nothing left to prove than beginning his NHL career. With the Ducks going the youth route in their lineup, McTavish seems like a lock to be on the opening night roster and become a graduate.
Drew Helleson – Acquired from the Avalanche at the trade deadline, Helleson signed his entry-level contract when his college season ended. He has a major opportunity to make the NHL this season as the Ducks only have four set defensemen for the team’s lineup, but with the amount of competition for the final two spots he could probably use this season to adjust playing against men at the pro level and be one of the first call-ups during the season.
Blake McLaughlin – McLaughlin signed a two-year deal at the end of his college season and finished the 2021-22 season in the AHL on a tryout. He scored one goal in seven regular season games and posted one assist in two playoff games for the Gulls. As a senior at Minnesota, he set career highs in goals and assists and played big minutes in all situations. He’ll settle into the pro game and could see a cup of coffee if the Ducks incur a few injuries.
Pavol Regenda – After playing the last two seasons in the top Czech league and impressing NHL scouts at the Olympics, Regenda signed a two year deal with the Ducks. At 22 years old, he fits the Ducks youth approach and should compete for a spot in the top nine. He is a big body who is tough to move off the puck and should provide some bite to their lineup.
Mason McTavish – It is tough to put a former third overall pick on the rising list, but after good showings at almost every level of hockey this past season, that is where McTavish is heading. He is pretty much a lock to make a young Ducks lineup and start on the wing while he adapts to the pro game. He may have to keep his bags packed as moving from Anaheim to San Diego may happen if management wants to give him time down the middle, but know if a move like that happens, it is for development purposes and not as a punishment.
Olen Zellweger – Voted as Team Canada’s best defenseman at the 2022 World Junior Championship, Zellweger has climbed the prospect charts this season. After leading said tournament in points by a defenseman and adding 78 points in 55 games in the WHL, he will have all the confidence in the world coming into Anaheim’s training camp to make the roster. With a handful of young defenders in the pipeline looking to make the jump, the Alberta native could see time on the top pair in the AHL to get his feet wet in the pro game.
Hunter Drew – Drew makes this list as he moved up to the wing this past season and showed off his strength in tight. Finishing second on the San Diego Gulls in goals (17) and third in points (38), the Kingston native also finished with a whopping 134 penalty minutes. If you are looking for those greasy stats, he could be a late round flyer for your fantasy squad as Nic Deslauries was traded last season. He played in the final two games for the Ducks and registered five PIMs and five hits.
Jackson LaCombe – The only reason LaCombe makes this list is because he has stuck around for his final college season. He has shown vast improvement in his own zone this past season and if he makes strides this year he will continue to climb. However, the Ducks could potentially lose his rights after this season and that is why he lands on the “Fallers” list.
Lucas Elvenes – After getting put on waivers from VGK with the thought of going home to play, Anaheim claimed the Swedish forward. Nothing really changed in the new organization as he was stuck in the AHL where he recorded 33 points in 43 games. The pending RFA signed a two-year deal with HV71 in the SHL. If he decides to return, the Ducks hold his rights.
Josh Mahura – Mahura has fumbled the ball a few times when given the opportunity in the NHL. With the Ducks in rebuild mode and a number of new, young defensemen in the organization, Mahura is potentially on his final NHL straw.
Benoit-Olivier Groulx – Groulx should be an NHL talent, but in terms of being two-way offensive center, most of the offense is probably gone. While it has only been one NHL season, his floor is a good 4th line center and penalty killer while being relied upon for face-offs, but will probably fall around the 30 point range for a full season. With the number of other centers management has drafted the past couple of years, Groulx seems earmarked for that shutdown role.
*organized by NHL-readiness, organizational standing, and fantasy upside*
Olle Eriksson Ek