As four-o' clock turned on Friday afternoon, nobody in Ducks land anticipated how seismic of a shift that would occur in a mere 15 hours. A wily, aging, Norris-candidate was traded, a superstar bid adieu to nonsense and bad management, and a bevy of picks had Ducks fans reminiscing about 2007.
As with everything we do, we try and gauge something immediately at face value. This is certainly something we cannot do with the moves executed by Bob Murray and company in Pittsburgh.
As the Toronto Maple Leafs wrapped up their 5th overall selection, Anaheim Ducks fans found themselves in a dream scenario. Three guys, all of whom were ranked as perennial NHL stalwarts by fans, media and pundits alike, were available. Instead, the Anaheim Ducks - and Bob Murray in particular - did what they usually do: what nobody expects. The pick, as the words rolled off of Barstool's tongue, was first Rogle, and then Sweden:
With that, the Ducks became the keystone in the draft, predicating the order of where the rest of the top prospects would land.
At first sight, the Lindholm pick seems all for naught. Underwhelming is the term I described it with, until I read and watched, and read and watched, until I could do no more. He killed the VO2Max test at the NHL Combine, posting a time of 14:40, a full minute-and-eight seconds better than his next best competitor, 2nd overall selection Ryan Murray. Pierre McGuire called him a "steal of a player", while Bob McKenzie mentioned that Hampus had a great second-half for his SEL Jr. team, and described him with "good size, and great wheels".
Barely ten minutes into the second day festivities, the Ducks made a tremendously popular pick in left-wing Nicolas Kerdiles. Kerdiles is something the Ducks organization has been missing with left-wing prospects in that he has both upside and tenacity, and it's believed Murray made the right move taking him over a higher-ranked center prospects like Colton Sissons or Boo Nieves. Kerdiles describes himself as a "Ryan Kesler" type player, and also mentioned he attends 10-15 Ducks home games each year, and even owns a Ryan Getzlaf jersey. Nothing better than a kid who actually wants to play for the Ducks. [Ed. Note: Kerdiles is an Irvine, California native.]
The organization followed those picks up by drafting one displaced goaltender, one diminutive centerman, and four more defenseman to add to their 6th overall pick. Danish goaltender Frederik Andersen, the Ducks third round pick seems mature, and poised to show value sooner rather than later. A smart insurance policy that will only add prestige to the Ducks' already great history of developing goaltenders.
After Andersen, supremely skilled USHL star Kevin Roy was selected, giving Anaheim the USHL's top forward and the USHL's top defenseman in 2011 third round pick, Andy Welinski. Brian Cooper and Jaycob Megna also add to the USHL talent pool, while Andrew O'Brien and Kenton Helgesen are the lone CHL draftees. If I were to tell you to go to Vegas and bet on the player who will have the best career of the Ducks last four picks - O'Brien, Cooper, Helgesen and Megna - it would be Kenton Helgesen from the Calgary Hitmen. Very good late-round pick by Martin Madden and the amateur scouting department.
For all the added futures this weekend, there was one player who will only serve memories from now on. Lubo, in all his godly wisdom and amusing interviews, for his Baby Bjorn, his powerplay point-shot and worst of all, his dislocated shoulder, was traded to the New York Islanders for a 2013 2nd round pick. Most Ducks fans believe his peak value was at this past year's Trade Deadline, and although I have to agree, next year's 2nd round pick might turn into a Devante Smith-Pelly, a Brendan Mikkelson, a Mark Messier, or a Justin Schultz. We won't know until we get there, but credit to the front office for retaining some high value - on paper at least.
Lastly, Bobby Ryan issued a very casual trade demand, err, statement of displeasure in the New Jersey Courier-Post intended towards General Manager Bob Murray and the Anaheim Ducks Front Office. I can't blame him for being yanked around, slighted and shopped, but he has to know the NHL is a business before anything. One could very effectively argue that soon Murray should pull the trigger on a trade. Turning one asset into multiple isn't anything new, and a return on a young superstar could plug many holes for the Ducks. After four consecutive (and impressive) 30-goal seasons, maybe right now is the time to trade him and maximize his value.
Lots of unanswered questions, and it should be an exciting few weeks for Ducks and NHL fans alike. Looking ahead to July 1st!
That's a wrap folks.
[Ed. Note #2: Big THANK YOU to Justin and Daniel for their work this weekend on the prospects. Their knowledge on the subject is far superior to my own.]