Name: Ryan Lasch
Position: C/RW. Hockey's Future is the only publication that lists him as a center. He has spent his entire professional career playing on the wing.
Hometown: Lake Forest, CA.
Draft Story: An undrafted free agent, Lasch was signed to a two-way, two-year deal (worth $600,000/year in the NHL and $200,000/year in the AHL) back in May.
Where did the Ducks send him for the lockout? Lasch was assigned to the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL.
2011-2012 League and Team: The Lahti Pelicans of the Finnish SM-Liiga.
Other Hockey Ventures: Lasch was a member of Team USA during the 2012 World Championships, where he tallied two assists in 7 games. While attending St. Cloud State, he was also nominated for the Hobey Baker Award in 2008 - the only underclassman in the Hobey Hat Trick - and was an NCAA Second Team All-American in 2008.
Key Stats Last Season: The SM-Liiga is regarded as the second-best league in Europe (behind the KHL), Lasch lead it in scoring with 24 goals and 38 assists (for a total of 62 points). He also posted 203 shots on goal.
Scout's take: St. Cloud State head coach Bob Motzko emphasizes Lasch's playmaking ability and leadership skills:
<blockquote>He really works hard and battles just as hard in the classroom now as he does on the ice. There's no question that he is the go-to guy on our team, but Ryan is also an unbelievable playmaker. He's got an unbelievable knack for putting the puck on his teammates' tape. A lot of nights it's very subtle but he's great at it.</blockquote>
From Eric Stephens of the OC Register:
<blockquote> At first glance, Lasch appears to be the kind of player that the Ducks are trying to get away from as they’ve sought to add size to their forward ranks. The 5-foot-8, 174-pound Lasch certainly doesn’t fit the bill there. Speed and elusiveness is the name of the game for the diminutive winger. It worked on the larger ice surface across the water but the obvious concern is whether his game is able to translate to these shores where the rinks are smaller and the puck battles are harder against the very best players in the world. Lasch has the kind of hands and puck skills that’s going to make him productive at some level </blockquote>
Is he a work-in-progress, future trade bait, or a keeper? Work-in-progress. The previous paragraph from Stephens summarizes all of my concerns about Lasch. I love shifty, playmaking wingers, but Lasch's size makes him vulnerable to injury, and could seriously hamper his competitiveness in the NHL. His age is also a concern. Lasch has been a dominant player at every level in his career but this dominance is based upon his identity as a point-per-game player, which he will not be in the NHL. He was also relatively quiet at the World Championships, which suggests that he is not ready to play with the best players in the world. However, I could see him being very effective in the AHL this season. If he is able to cultivate a defensive identity in Norfolk, then Bruce and Bob should give him a look at the NHL level.
Should we be excited: Yes! Lasch's return to Orange County - after four years of college, and two years in Europe - is almost mythic. He will be making history as the first Orange County native to don a Ducks sweater. He also seems like a decent, hardworking guy with leadership qualities, and is a lifelong Ducks fan. And his connections to other Ducks players and prospects are almost Kevin Bacon-esque: he and Sami Vatanen have a lot of mutual friends in Finland, he roomed with Cam Fowler during the World Championships, and he played bantam hockey with Bobby Ryan.