Name: Rickard Rakell
Position: Center/Right Wing
Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden
How Did He Become a Duck?: Drafted. He signed his entry-level contract this past July.
2011-2012 League and Team: Plymouth Whalers, OHL.
Other hockey ventures: Prior to his play in Plymouth, he played for AIK Hockey's Junior-20 team. As well, he played on the past two Swedish World Junior teams, earning a gold medal in Calgary this past January.
Key Stats from Last Season: In Rakell's first full season at the center spot for Mike Vellucci's Plymouth Whalers, he finished second on the team in scoring with 28 goals and 62 points, averaging over a point-per-game. Along with other NHL draftees Stefan Noesen (Ottawa Senators), JT Miller (New York Rangers) and Tom Wilson (Washington Capitals), Plymouth seems poised to vie for the OHL Title this upcoming season. Rakell will be a big part of that if they have any success.
Scout's Take: In The Hockey News Future Watch 2012 edition, Rakell made the jump to second-best Ducks prospect, only behind He Who Shall Not Be Named. This was up from the 6th spot in THN's 2011 Yearbook. Recently, THN ranked him only behind 2012 6th overall selection Hampus Lindholm for best Ducks prospect, in their 2012 Yearbook. As well, Corey Pronman of Hockey Prospectus ranked Rakell 34th out of 100 on his Top 100. This went along with his #1 overall ranking on Pronman's Top 10 Ducks Prospects rankings. Hockey's Future had this to say about Rickard: "Rakell has shown nice scoring upside, and could one day be a second-liner in the NHL. Even if he never explodes offensively, Rakell is versatile enough to stick as a pro and should have every opportunity to be a career NHL player."
Is he a Work-in-progress, Future trade-bait, or a Keeper?: Hard to say with so much wing depth within the minors, which is Rakell's natural - and best - position. If he cleans up his game at the center position, and can play there against NHL-caliber talent, then 100% he is a keeper. If he fails to show the type of upside that warrants a roster spot, is pushed down the depth chart by the other wing prospects, and is unable to transition into the NHL properly, then his high ranking and significant OHL resume should go nicely in a package to acquire a proven roster player. I would lean towards the former.
Should we be excited?: For someone who has shown true Swedish two-way capabilities, has some incredibly nice hands (check out 2:30 in this video), and is developing into a serviceable centerman, - something the Ducks have coveted for the past 5+ years - then by all means, you should be excited.