NHL Draft: Ducks' biggest needs, top prospects
Saying goodbye to longtime captain Ryan Getzlaf, the all-time franchise leader in games played and assists, marks the end of an era in Anaheim. After all, Getzlaf entered the organization in their final season as the Mighty Ducks in 2005-06, and the following season helped the team win its only Stanley Cup.
Now, a decade-and-a-half onward, Anaheim is retooling and looking to get back to contention. In the NHL, a group headlined by Trevor Zegras, Troy Terry, and Jamie Drysdale is already showing pieces of the puzzle coming together. In the wings, coveted prospect Mason McTavish is ready to go, but the Ducks still have work to do in filling out their roster.
They’ll take another stab at adding talent with the 10th overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft.
Mason McTavish - Packed his bags and played for Anaheim (NHL), San Diego (AHL), Peterborough (OHL), and Hamilton (OHL) this season. He also made stops in Beijing representing Canada at the Olympics, and Edmonton at the World Juniors, before that tournament was cancelled due to COVID-19. Along the way, McTavish put on a powerful performance, particularly with the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs in the postseason. There is nothing left for him to achieve outside the NHL, and his nine-game stint to open last season with the Ducks will undoubtedly become a season-long trial by fire in 2022-23.
Lukas Dostal - Goaltenders hate looking behind them, but that’s precisely what Anaheim’s John Gibson and Anthony Stolarz are doing because Lukas Dostal is on his way to the NHL. This season, the 6’2” Czechian netminder was great for the AHL’s San Diego Gulls and did not look out of place in four appearances with the Ducks. He’ll start again in San Diego this season, but with only one season left on Stolarz’s contract, and Gibson struggling, Dostal will be pushing and waiting for the call.
Olen Zellweger - If you were to imagine a future power play with Jamie Drysdale and Olen Zellweger as your blueliners, that thought would be served with a smile. Smooth skating, deceptive, and loves to rush the puck, Zellweger put up 78 points in 55 WHL games this season with the Everett Silvertips. He added nine points in six postseason games before joining the AHL’s San Diego Gulls for the Calder Cup playoffs, grabbing an assist in his lone contest. The 34th overall pick in 2021 will be forced to return to the Western Hockey League next season where he’ll look to grow on his already astronomical numbers. Following this, it’s likely Zellweger will warrant a season of defensive seasoning in the AHL, but if Anaheim can properly insulate their prospect, he could also make the jump to the NHL.
Ready to step in
The obvious choice is Mason McTavish, who will immediately stick at the NHL level next season, but it’s Jacob Perreault who will have the most pressure to elevate his game and claim NHL time. Perreault possesses a quick release, and has top six upside, but has yet to fully reach his potential as the 27th overall pick in 2020. He is another OHL player who utilized pandemic rules to enter the AHL early and had a strong shortened season. This year, Perrault showed development in San Diego notching 37 points in 55 games, but more importantly was better on the defensive side of the puck, working to rid himself of being labelled a one-dimensional player. Perreault’s full-time NHL roster spot may be a year away, but he’ll get an extended look and will likely be first up should a top-six spot come open via injury or suspension.
One to watch
Not to be overlooked in Anaheim’s pool of prospects is 6’3” defender Drew Helleson, who chose to forgo his senior season at Boston College, signing with the Ducks when his NCAA campaign ended. Acquired in the trade that sent Josh Manson to Colorado, Helleson represented the USA at the Olympics, and was a special teams regular in the NCAA. His transition to pro was bumpier than hoped as he collected only two assists in 17 AHL games and was minus-14 in that span with the San Diego Gulls. A strong distributor of the puck, Helleson is also a right-handed shot, a coveted asset on the blueline. Up front, recent University of Minnesota graduate Blake McLaughlin and 2019 first round pick Brayden Tracey will also be in the fight for a bottom six role at training camp.
Needs at the draft
With Zegras, McTavish, Isac Lundstrom, and Sam Steel down the middle, Anaheim’s center ice looks solid moving forward. Assuming Dostal rounds into form, goaltending will not be an immediate prospect need either. Aside from Drysdale however, Anaheim has not found another young difference maker on the blueline. Zellweger could fill that spot, but is a few seasons off, and current blueliners Josh Mahura and Simon Benoit look serviceable, but not elite. Taking a defender with one of their first two picks should be a priority for the Ducks, however, at 10th overall, it may be a stretch to reach for a d-man. The best available at this spot are likely Pavel Mintyukov, Kevin Korchinski, or Denton Mateychuk. Each could offer what Anaheim needs and could give the organization a moment for pause. The other need would be adding to their scoring from the wings, of which there will be a wide range of choices available for Anaheim at tenth overall.
More from Yahoo Sports