With the ongoing lockout looming and the fallout from a Kings
' championship still lingering, things are pretty dark on Katella Ave. these days. Plus with the possibility of Selanne retiring if the season is cancelled, Ducks fans really don't have much to look forward to. However, in far off mystical lands where they do play hockey, Russia, there is a glimmer of hope for the Anaheim faithful in the form of the 2013 World Junior Championships.
This under 20 tournament will pit the usual gang of suspects in an 11 day sprint to decide who's the best junior team in the world. Also, it will have the side effect of showcasing the future of the Anaheim Ducks
Hockey Club. The main attractions are a trio of Super Swedes and American goaltender John Gibson
who has made a habit of terrorizing the OHL. Gibson, 19, has posted a .928 save percentage in 32 games with the Kitchener Rangers
this campaign. His 21 wins are impressive enough to give him the starting job for team USA in Ufa, Russia. His aggressive style is the kind of spark that the Ducks desperately need and has the potential to be a franchise goalie that Anaheim has not seen since the glory days of Jean Sebastian Giguere.
Along with Gibson, team Sweden has three players who can help the Ducks stay in the ranks of highest scoring teams while also keeping them competitive in the West. First is Rickard Rakell
, who is also currently playing in the OHL with Plymouth Whalers, is a 19 year old right wing who, coming off a 62 point season in 2011-2012, is a point-a-game player through 30 games. He would be a perfect offensive threat to replace Perry in the event he doesn't resign or is traded in the next few years and would be great to help bolster the second line after Selanne and Koivu retire.
The other forward is William Karlsson
, the first line center for Vik Vasteras in Sweden's HK League. The 19 year old had 47 points last season and is on pace to have an even better season in 2012-2013 and along with Rakell would form a one two punch that recalls the dual threat that Getzlaf and Perry brought to the Ducks during their Stanley Cup run. He would also be the sorely needed center on the second line when Koivu hangs them up.
Finally, we come to Hampus Lindholm
, the defenseman from the AHL's Norfolk Admirals. Drafted 6th overall by Anaheim this past June, Lindholm has two points through 19 games in Norfolk, however has a presence on the ice that would be a godsend in Anaheim. He would be a perfect addition on the second defensive line to help the likes of Fowler, Sbisa, and Guenin on a defensive core that badly needs a shot in the arm. Now while there is a lot of hockey to be played before these young kids are NHL ready, there is no doubt that the presence of excellent, young talent in the Ducks system will go a long way in bringing the franchise back to respectability and help bring a second Cup to Orange County.
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