Ducks Organization Developing Through the DraftJun 5, 2019
Anaheim Ducks will look to continue their prowess of unearthing talent across the globe with seven picks in the 2019 NHL Draft
By Steve Brown
With two first-round selections in the upcoming 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver, the Anaheim Ducks will look to continue their prowess of unearthing talent across the globe. With their drafts led by Ducks Executive Vice President/General Manager Bob Murray and Director of Amateur Scouting Martin Madden, Anaheim has created a model of success in using the annual draft to prime its organizational development.
The Ducks are the NHL’s most successful team drafting players into the NHL since 2010, doing so without a top-five overall selection (Anaheim has not selected in the top five since 2005, qualifying for the playoffs in 11 of 14 seasons since then). The organization has selected 58 players since 2010, with a league-leading 51.7% (30 players, tied with Boston) making it to the NHL (the league average is 38.0%). Those 30 players have combined to play 4,810 NHL games, led by Cam Fowler (620) and Hampus Lindholm (447). Additionally, eight of those 30 players (26.7% percent) have played 250-or-more NHL games, which also leads the league.
Among players drafted after the first round since 2010, the Ducks co-lead the league with 41.7% of drafted players reaching the NHL (tied with Boston). That group of players includes both of the top-two goaltenders (ranked by games played) who have been drafted since 2010. John Gibson (236 games) was drafted by the Ducks in the second round in 2011, and Frederik Andersen (317 games) was selected in the third round in 2012. The Ducks acquired two draft picks (Sam Steel and Max Comtois) for Andersen in 2016.
During the 2018-19 NHL season, the Ducks led the NHL in games played by drafted defensemen (418). Anaheim also ranked second in most rookies (16), games played by rookies (325) and games played by defensemen aged 27-or-younger (449).
The draft also truly affects the organization from a developmental aspect, and that first and foremost begins with the Gulls, Anaheim’s primary development affiliate in the American Hockey League.
Successful drafting brought on-ice success in the AHL. Since 2010, the Ducks’ affiliates have posted a combined 330-261-36-29 record (.553%) in 656 regular-season games, while advancing past the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs four times in nine seasons.
Since the aforementioned 2010 draft, 116 players played for Anaheim’s primary affiliate in San Diego (2015-present), Norfolk (2012-15) and Syracuse (2010-12). In four seasons, 32 players dressed for the Gulls in a combined 1,980 AHL games. Those same 32 players also appeared in 1,900 NHL games.
Of those 58 players selected by Anaheim since 2010, 37 have appeared in a game for the club’s primary affiliate, with 13 yet to be eligible for the AHL at this juncture in their career. Eighty-two percent of all available Ducks draftees spent time at one point or another in the AHL over the past nine seasons, with only Cam Fowler making the jump directly from the draft to the NHL with the Ducks in 2010.
Each of Anaheim’s last six first-round selections played in San Diego over the past four seasons, including Isac Lundestrom (23rd overall in 2018), Max Jones (24th overall in 2016), Sam Steel (30th overall in 2016), Jacob Larsson (27th overall in 2015), Nick Ritchie (10th overall in 2014) and Shea Theodore (26th overall in 2013). Each of the first four listed spent time with the Gulls in 2018-19 and contributed to the club advancing to the Western Conference Finals of the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Of the most recent five drafts (2014-18), every single player eligible to play in the AHL has done so to date, including the entire 2016 class (Max Jones, Sam Steel, Josh Mahura, Jack Kopacka, Alex Dostie and Tyler Soy). To expand on that, the entire 2014 and 2015 classes have as well, with Steven Ruggiero, Garrett Metcalf and Matthew Berkovitz spending the 2018-19 with their respective collegiate teams.
The last four draft classes saw monumental steps in their professional careers this season, with seven players making key contributions in their first professional seasons. Six of those seven (Comtois, Jones, Lundestrom, Mahura, Steel and Terry) all completed their rookie seasons while each also made their respective NHL debuts in 2018-19.
No player quite exemplified what’s to come than Max Comtois (second round, 50th overall in 2017), who displayed his scoring prowess at every level of hockey this season. He scored goals in his NHL debut, AHL debut, the first game of the World Junior Championship as Canada’s captain, and also his first game with Drummondville in the QMJHL. Not to mention the game-winning goal in his first AHL postseason game in the fourth overtime – the fifth-longest game in AHL postseason history.
Troy Terry (fifth round, 148th overall in 2014) took a pivotal step forward in his development despite not beparticipating in San Diego’s playoff run. Terry scored 4-9=13 points in 32 NHL games with Anaheim, but showed a level of playmaking that could help him secure a roster spot with the Ducks for years to come. He also collected 41 points (16-25=41) in 41 games with San Diego to co-lead club rookies in scoring, including a club record 11 game-point streak to begin his AHL career from Oct. 19-Nov. 23 (7-9=16). Terry’s time with San Diego, after beginning the season with Anaheim, did a world of good for the rookie.
Steel also co-led Gulls rookies in scoring with 41 points (20-21=41), with his 20 goals in 53 games setting a new franchise rookie record. But it was the way he finished his stint with Anaheim that may define what type of player the organization will see going forward. He registered 6-5=11 points in 22 games with the Ducks, but finished the season with eight points (5-3=8) his last seven games with Anaheim, including his three goals on Mar. 26 at Vancouver that saw him become the youngest Ducks player to record a hat trick in club history at 21 years and 51 days. Steel led all club rookies in postseason scoring (6-7=13), goals and assists.
Jones split his first professional seasons between the NHL and AHL, collecting three points (2-1=3) in 30 games with the Ducks while also scoring 14-15=29 points in 43 games with the Gulls. Held to only eight games to due injury in the AHL postseason, Jones tallied four assists.
Lundestrom, like Comtois, traveled the globe in 2018-19. He began the season with Anaheim, recording two assists in 15 games. He then spent 12 games with San Diego, earning six assists, before joining Team Sweden for the World Junior Championship in Vancouver and then completing his regular season with Lulea HF in the Swedish Hockey League. The 19-year old joined San Diego in the second round of the playoffs, recording three points (1-2=3) in seven games, including a three-point Game 2 performance vs. Bakersfield in the Pacific Division Finals to become the youngest Gull to record three points in a postseason game.
Mahura (third round, 85th overall in 2016), led Gulls defensemen in assists and co-led in points (1-18=19) in his first season with San Diego. He also recorded 1-4=5 points in 17 NHL games with the Ducks. While he turned 21 in early May, the young defensemen gained invaluable experience in his first professional season at both the NHL and AHL levels, while also appearing in nine postseason games during the Gulls run to the Conference Finals.
The 2018-19 season challenged the Ducks' depth. Twenty five different players appeared in a game for both the Ducks and Gulls, the most to appear in games for both the NHL club and primary affiliate. Depth is key in any organization, but the depth has come from the consistent ability for Murray and his staff to not only find top-end talent in the first two rounds of the draft, but also late-round selections that have become staples within the organization.
Josh Manson (sixth round, 160th overall in 2011, has appeared in 335 games with Anaheim. Ondrej Kase (seventh round, 205th overall in 2014) has 149 games of NHL experience with the Ducks. In addition, Jaycob Megna (seventh round, 210th overall in 2012) and Kevin Roy (fourth round, 97th overall in 2012), Andy Welinski (third round, 83rd in 2011) and Terry are examples of finding depth in the draft that has contributed to the NHL roster with Anaheim in addition to having been key contributors in San Diego.
With seven selections in the upcoming 2019 draft, including two picks in the first round at ninth and 29th overall (from San Jose), and three top-39 selections, the Ducks again look primed to stock their proverbial cupboard with more top prospect.