A few weeks back I did my best to bring you, the loyal reader, up to speed with how the Gulls have fared this season.
Now that the Gulls are set to begin their first round series against the Reign this weekend, let us meet this exciting group of potential Ducks.
#9 Kevin Roy - LW: One of the smaller players on the team and in the Ducks organisation at 5’9”, the Quebec native does not take any crap from anyone. This is his first full season in the AHL and he his third on the team in scoring with 14 Goals, 30 Assists and 44 Points, 12th in the AHL among rookies. He was selected in the 4th round - 97th overall in 2012 (the same year Lindholm was drafted) and went the college route - playing 4 years at Northeastern. He spent some of the year on the top line with Kalle Kossila and Corey Tropp but has recently been bumped to spread the offense. He has also played the point on the powerplay due to his booming slap shot.
Comparison Player: Hard to say, he is feisty for his size, speedy and can surprise by making the pass on a sure-scoring play. Closest I can think of is a poor mans Saku Koivu or Johnny Gaudreau.
Excitement Factor: This was his first year in the A and he lead the team in scoring at one point; he could be a top-9 forward for the Ducks and make the team next year; not bad for a 4th rounder.
#10 Kyle MacKinnon - C: One of the token AHL Journeyman / Vet presence / Necessary Face Puncher players on the team. Doesn’t play a hell of a lot and is essentially a depth grinder enforcer.
Comparison Player: Jared Boll I guess
Excitement Factor: Is only signed with the Gulls, will never come up to the Ducks.
#11 Spencer Abbott - RW: One of two players acquired at the most recent Trade Deadline from the Rockford Icehogs (Chicago Blackhawks) in exchange for Kenton Helgesen & a 7th rounder. He is essentially an AHL rental for the Gulls playoffs drive, but a decent one - having scored 35 points in 53 games and (as of writing this) still leading the Icehogs in scoring. He played under Dallas Eakins in the Toronto organisation and will be used as scoring depth on the 2nd or 3rd line for the Gulls.
Comparison Player: He is listed at 5’10” and similar to Roy, can play the point on the powerplay while being touted as a good scorer and playmaker. So I guess an older version of Roy? I havent heard/seen enough of him to make a call.
Excitement Factor: His contract expires after this season, along with fellow acquisition Sam Carrick. The Gulls have brought back previous AHL “rentals” before - such as Corey Tropp but I don't see them bringing back both of these two unless some space frees up on the roster. Abbott being the higher scorer is more likely to be brought back out of the two though. He saw one game of NHL action with the Hawks so there is hope there but at this point he would be quite far down the forward depth chart.
#12 Corey Tropp - RW: Last years AHL rental deadline acquisition, another “on the small side” winger at 6’0” he plays a hell of a lot bigger than his size and often surprises would be combatants when he is not only willing to drop the gloves, but often more than holds his own in a fight. He got one game with the Ducks this year but is quickly becoming an AHL journeyman having bounced from the Blue Jackets to the Hawks and now landing in Anaheim. He is the Gulls leading scorer with 21 Goals, 33 Assists and 54 points in 60 games while also leading the team in Game Winners with 4. These have been referred to as “Tropp the Mic” goals by Gulls broadcaster Craig Elsten. Oh fun fact - or not so fun for Corey - he was one of the two guys in this incident. So I guess he was always destined to be a Duck.
Comparison Player: A scrappy winger who thrives on taking punishment whilst also popping goals in the dirty areas? Chris Kunitz maybe?
Excitement Factor: He got one game with the big club this year and has probably the most NHL experience among forwards on the Gulls but the likes of Wagner and Shaw make him slightly redundant at this point as far as roster spots on the Ducks go.
#14 Kalle Kossila - LW: An undrafted collegiate signing; Kossila had his first full year with the Gulls this season. At 5’11” he is on the small side but his speed makes up for any short comings. He finished second on the Gulls in scoring with 14 Goals, 33 Assists and 47 Points playing the entire year on the top line with Tropp and more recently Laganiere. His game is dependent on the rush - utilizing his speed but he is also adept at finding space for back door scoring chances. You might remember him from this goal.
Comparison Player: Undrafted undersized college signing? Blazing speed and crazy hands? Think Andy McDonald but with better hands and play-making ability.
Excitement Factor: Get hyped. He already got a call up for one game where he saw sparse ice time but based on those 6 minutes and change of ice time he had positive corsi and SAT numbers. At this point he sits high on the depth chart for call-ups, possibly the next in line after Kase.
#15 Scott Sabourin - RW: Another grinder in the same vein as MacKinnon but is actually putting up points as well as punching faces. He is a border-line journeyman, having started with the Kings as an undrafted signing in 2013 before being traded to the Wild at the last deadline for Brett Sutter. One of 2-3 ex Reign players with something to prove he has recently taken on a leadership role with injuries and the departure of Stefan Noessen.
Comparison Player: That grinder type that can leadership and score goals every now and then? Kris Draper or Kirk Maltby maybe?
Excitement Factor: He isn't making the big club anytime soon, as previously mentioned. Those roles are currently filled by Wagner and Shaw.
#16 Nick Sorensen - RW: You might remember him as the surprise rookie making the team out of training camp to start the season. You can understand why Carlyle wanted to see more of him. His game is similar to Samuel Pahlssons, a relentless forechecker who works hard every shift and wins almost every puck battle. He was joined by his childhood friend Max Gortz after a mid season trade but has been out of the line-up with an injury for the past 3 weeks.
Comparison Player: Samuel Pahlsson with more scoring ability and not a center.
Excitement Factor: He already made the big club to start the year and if not for injury setbacks he might have made it again. At this point he would be the successor to Andrew Cogliano but obviously not as fast. If the Ducks lose Cogs in the expansion draft; he would be the best choice to replace him.
#17 Nic Kerdiles - LW: Taken in the 2nd round of the same draft as Roy, Kediles has had the worst luck of any of the Ducks prospects. Over 3 years of his pro career he has yet to play a full season. More recently he sat out the entire first half of the Gulls season - only joining the team in the last two months. The Ducks have been patient and even rewarded him with a call up for one game but one has to think if he doesn't get a full season in next year he might be labeled as too injury prone. The Ducks are lacking in prospects with pure goal scoring depth however and Kedriles has that in spades so he might yet stick around; besides he is an Irvine native so yknow - loyalty.
Comparison Player: His initial scouting report knocked his defensive game but I distinctly remember his 2nd or 3rd game back with the Gulls this year where he blocked a shot on the PK, struggled to get up and then blocked another one. Kid has heart. A 6’2” Left Winger that is a pure goal scorer. Maybe a Mike Cammalleri or a poor mans Jamie Benn.
Excitement Factor: It’s now or never for Kerdiles. He has a very real shot of making the team out of camp next year if he can stay injury free and keeps putting up good numbers. The Ducks need scoring and Kerdiles provides that.
#18 Ryan Garbutt - LW: Started the year with the Ducks, fell out of favour and got dropped. Took a while to adjust to the Gulls but eventually found his stride on a grind-line with Samuels-Thomas before getting injured and requiring season-ending knee surgery. He seemed to revert to his old “jerk” self circa Dallas Stars at times with the Gulls - taking stupid penalties late in the game which ultimately cost the team a win. His contract expires this year and we likely won’t see him back. So it went DSP for Sekac, Sekac for Garbutt, Garbutt gone. So essentially DSP is another freebie Ducks giveaway that the Devils are currently enjoying (yes I know they traded for him from the Canadiens).
Comparison Player: Penalty killing pest type. I dont think we need much more there.
Excitement Factor: None, he is gone after this season.
#19 Max Gortz - RW: Mid-season acquisition from the Predators organization and child-hood friend of Nick Sorensen. He was selected by the Preds in the 6th round of the same 2012 draft as Roy, Kerdiles and Lindholm. He put up an impressive 47 point rookie season in the A with the Milwaukee Admirals before suffering a sophomore slump to start this season and was thus traded to the Gulls for Andrew O’Brien. He then went on to put up 19 points in 28 games with the Gulls before going down with an injury in just the last two weeks. He was playing on a line with new acquisitions Carrick and Abbott at the time of the injury.
Comparison Player: He is a big, strong winger with a good release, puck handling skills and likes to go to the net. So I guess the Swedish Corey Perry but with less of an “edge” to his game.
Excitement Factor: Remains to be seen. His rookie season with the Admirals gives hope but until he has a full year with the organisation, it is hard to see where he might fit in with the Ducks plans.
#20 Emerson Etem - RW: Remember Ricky-Etem-Cakes? Ah the good ol days. Since then Cakes has bounced around the league before going to play in the KHL, Etem has bounced around the league before landing back with us and Ricky? Well let’s just say that Ricky is probably the main reason why we remember that line. The Ducks took another chance on Etem - claiming him off Waivers from the Canucks earlier this season before sneaking him down to the Gulls. He got injured in his first game but did manage to get a Power Play goal before doing so. We all know the kind of speed and skill Etem possesses - he just needs to play with line-mates that complement that. His contact ends at the end of this season however so whether the Ducks take another chance on him is another question.
Comparison Player: The depleted-confidence and injured version of Emerson Etem circa 2014
Excitement Factor: Depends on if the Ducks take another shot at him. If he is willing to come back for cheap; we know the talent is there.
#23 Tyler Morley - C: Another undrafted collegiate signing and the smallest Gull at 5’8”, Morley is another player that plays bigger than his size. He had several standout years with the University of Alaska-Fairbanks; scoring at just over a point per game in his last 3 years there before joining the Gulls for 2 games last year. In his first full year he has put up 16 points playing on a line with Kerdiles amongst others. His style is described as pitt-bull like; hard hitting and winning puck battles with an element of pest to it.
Comparison Player: Brendan Gallagher but with less upside
Excitement Factor: He is having trouble transferring the scoring touch he had in College to the A but perhaps if he focused more on his two-way game he could prove to be a decent shutdown center-man; his size might hurt him there though.
#25 Sam Carrick - C: The other Blackhawk/Icehog acquired at the deadline - he is also on an expiring contract and finished 6th on the Icehogs in points with 28. He had 11 points in 15 games with the Gulls before going down with an injury. Abbot had 11 in 13 before his injury. It would be nice to bring them both back for the new season but it depends on how the money and roster spots play. Nattinen, Sideroff & Soy are eligible for the A next year. He is described as a “stocky, hard nosed player with an offensive touch” and a “pain to play against”.
Comparison Player: A 2-way forward with an element of pest - maybe another Ryan Garbutt; which I guess is another reason to keep him around since Garbutt will be gone next year.
Excitement Factor: With limited offensive upside he will be well down the depth chart but fills a role - if the Ducks lose the likes of Wagner or Shaw to injury he would be a half decent replacement.
#28 Antonie Laganiere - LW: The former Yale signing is now in his fourth year with the Ducks organization. Although he is yet to be rewarded with a recall; he has been a consistent force for the Gulls on the top line with Kossila and Tropp; creating space for his smaller line-mates while fighting hard on the back-check. They say power forwards take a long time to develop but at 26 Laganiere might have missed his window. He seems to have accepted his role as AHL stalwart and his experience should be good for the development of the incoming of Max Jones and Sam Steel.
Comparison Player: 2-Way Power Forward with limited offensive upside but can battle in the corners with the best of them. Maybe a Leo Komarov or a Marian Hossa without the hands or speed.
Excitement Factor: He has been a loyal contributor but is probably not going to crack the Ducks, at least not on a consistent basis. It would be nice to see him rewarded with at least a game or two with the big club at some point though. He would make for decent injury cover if a 4th liner went down.
#27 Nick Tarnasky - LW: An AHL journeyman who actually has combined 233 games NHL experience between the Lightning, Predators and Panthers, he was brought in to mostly punch faces and provide veteran leadership.
Comparison Player: Jared Boll I guess, remarkably they both have the same points per game of 0.12 (yes I calculated up an enforcers points per game stats).
Excitement Factor: Given he is one of 3-4 face puncher veteran types on the team, not sure if he is back next year.
#32 Tyler Soy - C: Part of the most recent draft which saw the Ducks take Max Jones and Sam Steel in the first round - Soy was taken in the 7th round and is quietly turning into a steal in the same vein as Ondrej Kase. He had already put up 85 points in 72 games for the Victoria Royals in the year prior to the draft and this season put up 55 in 44 games, with an additional 4 points in 6 playoffs games. He was named WHL player of the week in January when he tallied 9 points in 4 games. He is AHL eligible next season and has joined the Gulls as a bit-part in their playoff drive.
Comparison Player: Speedy and likes to score goals, finds the quiet areas for high danger chances and doesn't like to get too physical - he won the WHL’s equivalent of the Lady Byng last year. Sounds like a taller Paul Kariya but a center - or maybe a Pavel Datsyuk but with less of the play making genius.
Excitement Factor: Given his accomplishments this season it is easy to have a modicum of excitement but the knocks on him are his play away from the puck and his dislike of physical play. He may need another year in junior as an overager as the AHL might be too heavy hitting for him but that remains to be seen.
#34 Mitch Hults - C: Hults just signed after his junior year at Lake Superior State; forgoing his final year in the NCAA. He was the leading scorer for the Lakers, scoring 11 goals and 23 assists for 34 points in 36 games and had been listed here as one of the top free agents in college hockey. Described as being deceptively light on his feet and a very fast skater but possibly has discipline issues - so a prototypical Ducks prospect.
Comparison Player: A 6-2 center with size and speed that plays the point on the powerplay and is on the PK as well, with discipline issues? Sounds like a young Ryan Getzlaf. He does tend to put up more assists than goals too. Woah spooky.
Excitement Factor: 4 points in 6 games in your first introduction to pro-hockey aint half-bad; depending on how he does in the playoffs he might force himself into high depth chart conversations for next season.
#36 Austin Ortega - RW: Another recent College signing, this time with some local flavour. The local out of Escondido has turned the college hockey world on its head with a strong 4 year showing for the University of Nebraska-Omaha, culminating in a 47 points in 38 game campaign to cap his final year. He seems to have a knack for clutch goals - holding two NCAA scoring records for most game-winning goals in a season and a career. He managed to put together that final year offensive outbreak without his usual partner in crime - Jake Guentzel, who made the Pens (and is currently their leading playoff goal scorer as of writing) this year.
Comparison Player: An undersized pure sniper with a penchant for scoring clutch goals that wants to be on the ice for those make-it-or-break-it situations; maybe Theo Fluery but without the mean streak. He will likely also draw comparisons to Emerson Etem and Matt Nieto due to “California born and raised” idioms.
Excitement Factor: He has already put up 5 points, including 4 goals in just 6 games with the Gulls and has a pretty impressive shooting percentage. He has been slotted on the 2nd line alongside Morley and Abott. Nick Ritchie might want to watch his back or he might find himself shipped out to make way for Ortega next year (Ritchie Haters (TM) rejoice) if Ortega keeps that kind of PPG up next year.
#37 Zac Larraza - LW: A former Coyote 7th rounder that never really cracked the NHL, Larraza fills the fourth line grinder role. He can chip in the odd goal every now and then while creating space for smaller line-mates or providing energy through the odd well-placed hit. Among the grinders on the team he has one of the better point totals with 9 points in 17 games.
Comparison Player: A physical 2-way forward with limited scoring ability but willing to do all the right things to win; kind of reminds me of Mike Brown but not as fast.
Excitement Factor: As one of the better grinders on the Gulls he is probably sticking around next year, but he won’t be with the Ducks anytime soon.
#38 Deven Sideroff - RW: The Ducks 3rd round choice in 2015 is quietly coming along and is eligible for the A next year. He has joined the Gulls for the stretch run as the Blazers were bounced in the first round but like Soy, he is likely to sit and watch from the sidelines as a Black Ace. He is described as a “smart” hockey player, that makes the right decisions with the puck at the right time while having tremendous work ethic and determination. He finished his final year with the Blazers with 78 points in 67 games - leading the team. He had just the one assist through 6 games in the playoffs.
Comparison Player: Slightly undersized winger with high hockey IQ, he apparently gets under opponents skin and plays well off the puck, he was a +26 in the regular season but a -3 in the playoffs. Perhaps a smaller Corey Perry in the making?
Excitement Factor: His final year stats with Kamloops are impressive but it will probably take him a few years in the AHL to see if he can stick in the pros. Watch this space. It doesn't hurt that he is also ridiculously handsome.
#42 Jordan Samuels-Thomas - LW: Brought in during the November spat of injuries and call-ups, JST was instrumental in steadying the ship and getting the Gulls back on track. An extremely hard worker that is an absolute force on the penalty kill; the journeyman power forward started out the season in the ECHL before signing a PTO with the Gulls. He finished the year 8th on the team in points with 24 in 56 games, an even 12 goals and 12 assists.
Comparison Player: Ryan Garbutt but without the stupid decisions; he loves to hit, forecheck and has surprising wheels. Hopefully he can stick around next year and mentor some of the younger forwards coming through.
Excitement Factor: He is only signed with Gulls - not likely to make the Ducks with the 2-way forward depth as it currently stands.
#2 Stu Bickel - D: The heart and soul of this team. He has taken on the role of dropping the gloves without hesitation whenever one of his team-mates is in need. He has bounced around the league somewhat but was actually originally a Ducks collegiate signing in 2008. He spent most of the year playing forward on the 4th line but has recently moved back to D due to call-ups and forward depth.
Comparison Player: I don't think he needs one, Stu Bickel is Stu Bickel.
Excitement Factor: He won’t be on the big club anytime soon but it would be nice if he stuck around to provide leadership to the youth coming through.
#3 Andy Welinski - D: 2011 3rd rounder and next most exciting blueline prospect that is not playing in Europe; Welinski would be the next Ducks call-up would any other of the puck carrying offensive minded defense men go down with injury. In his first full year with the Gulls the former University of Minnesota-Duluth blueliner scored 6 goals (including a hat-trick) and added 23 assists in 63 games.
Comparison Player: A fluid skating 2-Way defense man that can man the point on the powerplay with a hard dangerous shot that also possess a nasty edge to his defensive game? Sounds like a much smaller Chris Pronger - wouldn't that be fun.
Excitement Factor: As stated above, now that Mountour and Theodore have graduated; he is the next offensive blueliner in line that is currently in North America. If Larsson comes across and stays next year that might change.
#4 Keaton Thompson - D: The 2013 3rd rounder started out the year with the Grizzlies and struggled - then injuries and call ups prompted a recall where he played his way into a roster spot with the Gulls. His initial scouting reports have him as “non flashy” yet “highly skilled” with above average skating and footwork. He seems to be streaky and prone to bouts with confidence issues but hopefully another year with Dallas Eakins will help erase that (please dont leave Dallas). He was always going to be a project - but worth taking the shot on; currently it seems to be working out - he finished the year with 16 points in 52 games and was a +1.
Comparison Player: Non flashy? Smart with the puck? Ruslan Salei (RIP) immediately springs to mind but with better skating.
Excitement Factor: I think he needs a few more years in the AHL before there is any indication of his big league aspirations.
#5 Nate Guenin - D: You might remember him as that upstart rookie defender who saw time with the Ducks in 2011-12. Since then he has been playing with the Avalanche but smartly jumped ship after last season to sign a deal with the Gulls. He is one of the team leaders and is relied upon heavily to provide veteran stability while mentoring the younger defencemen, he is currently doing just that with the aforementioned Thompson.
Comparison Player: Not needed, you know Guenin. If you don't, remember Kurt Sauer? Yea kind of like him.
Excitement Factor: He is signed with the Gulls, not likely to make an appearance with the Ducks unless they are desperate for grinding veteran blue-liners and well, he is stuck behind Bieska and Stoner on that front.
#6 Brian Cooper - D: Taken in the 5th round in 2012, Cooper has stuck around and earned a spot among the D corps when the Gulls were hit with injuries and call-ups. He finished the year with 10 points in 37 games and looks to start the playoffs on a pairing with Stu Bickel. Another University of Nebraska-Omaha graduate, he projects as 2nd/3rd pairing defender. He is small for his position but makes smart plays with the puck and is not afraid to take the body; he also possesses a good shot.
Comparison Player: A small “kitchen-sink” type of defender that is good at both ends of the ice and plays much much bigger than his size, maybe a Kevin Shattenkirk or Darius Kasparaitus fit though apparently he models his game after Scott Stevens.
Excitement Factor: This was his first partial year with the Gulls; having started the season with the Griz - there is potential there but he is going to need time to develop; much like his alumni Megna did.
#7 James Melindy - D: The newest defender on the Gulls; Melindy signed a PTO on loan from the Wichita Thunder of the ECHL to fill a stop gap in the injury and call-up ridden blue-line. He is currently playing on the top pairing with Jacob Megna.
#22 Jeff Schultz - D: A veteran defensive depth signing by the Ducks/Gulls to start the season, Schultz has embraced the role of mentor and leader. The former first rounder put up 15 points in 65 games this season and was used in every defensive situation. Keen to stay on the West Coast after not being resigned by the Kings last year - he has been a good asset in the development of the Ducks defensive pipeline.
#24 Jaycob Megna - D: This hulking 2012 7th rounder is proving to be a big deal (no pun intended) - at 6’6” 225 lbs he is everything you want in a stay at home defender. He saw time with the big club toward the end of the season and his +33 rating was sorely missed on the Gulls who proceeded to get blown out in the two games he missed. If you listen to the Gulls broadcasts you will hear it remarked a lot that he always tends to be in the right place at the right time to clear the puck; he is just “always there”. He is also the younger brother of Canucks forward Jayson Megna (his parents must be huge fans of the moniker Jay). He finished the year with 27 points in 62 games and a whopping AHL league leading +33.
Comparison Player: Huge, solid stay at home defender with limited offense but a good first pass? Maybe compares to a Rob Scuderi or Adam Foote.
Excitement Factor: Get ready Ducks fans, the club have taken their time with this kid and I think based on his recent call-up he is ready. If they can somehow jettison the Bieska, Stoner and Holzer contracts - Megna will fit in nicely alongside a rover like Montour.
#1 Jhonas Enroth - G: The second most recent Leafs cast-off goaltender to join the Ducks organisation - Enroth has been lights out for the Gulls. Through 18 games he posted a 1.73 GAA and .936 Save Percentage. After the initial Gulls tandem of Dustin Tokarski and Matt Hacket were felled with injuries, the Ducks traded for Enroth to relieve the incumbent Kevin Boyle. He looks to lead the Gulls in the playoffs.
Excitement Factor: He is on an expiring one year deal and the Ducks have already resigned Tokarski to an extension (for Expansion Draft goaltender bait); it would be smart to keep him around for depth in goal but only at an economical rate.
#39 Dustin Tokarski - G: Acquired last year from the Canadiens for Max Friberg, Tokarski had a mixed but overall positive year. Having already gone down with an injury soon after his initial acquistion last year it was a tad worrying that he suffered another one this year - he ended up finishing the year with a 2.93 GAA and .898 Save Percentage through 27 games. He will backup Enroth heading into the playoffs.
Excitement Factor: As mentioned above, he has signed an extension through next season - essentially to bring the Ducks goaltenders under the legal contract number for the expansion draft but it is unlikely that he is taken and we should see him again with the Gulls next year or perhaps even backing up Gibson if Bernier goes elsewhere.
#33 Kevin Boyle - G: A collegiate signing out of the University of Massachusetts-Lowell last year, Kevin Boyle was ticketed to be the number one goaltender for the Utah Grizzlies; which he was - until injuries to both Gulls starters forced a recall mid season. Boyle surprised many by posting a 2.27 GAA and .924 Save Percentage through 19 games - proving he might just be ready for AHL action sooner than expected. After Enroth was picked up he rejoined the Grizzlies and is currently backstopping them on their playoff run.
Excitement Factor: Other than depth acquisitions and signings; he is pretty much the next closest blue-chip goal-tending prospect in the Ducks org. He should definitely be kept around for that reason alone. Not entirely sure where he starts next year - it all depends on who goes and who stays.