I had been planning on writing this one for a while, ever since I read this brilliant piece by Eric Stephens in the lead up to last years draft.
The 2015 NHL Entry Draft will forever be known in Friends-episodic-title-terms as “The One With Conor McDavid”. The Franchise defining superstar unhappily being drafted by the Oilers first overall whilst the quite-obviously tanking Sabres settled for Jack Eichel with the next selection.
In terms of the Ducks - this wasn't really a draft to be remembered in the same vein as the Getzlaf and Perry 2003 draft. Nor the incredible seven selection haul of 2011 that produced four regular NHL players with three that have seen some kind of NHL time.
This was more a sneaky good draft. One that could go down as one of the better drafts in Ducks history based solely on the emergence of Troy Terry. So, let us look back at each selection and where they are now.
Jacob Larsson - 27th Overall
Larsson has generally been labelled as a disappointment in many fans eyes; the now 22 year old defenseman was widely heralded as the second coming of Hampus Lindholm, but his development has taken a longer road with more bumps than that of his elder Swedish compatriot.
Pre-draft profiles lauded his skill at shutting down attackers in his own zone while also providing a quick transition play with crisp, excellent passing. It seemed that he was as advertised when he unexpectedly made the big club out of camp the year of his draft. He did not look entirely out of place in those four games, but once injured veterans returned to the lineup, he was returned to the San Diego Gulls. There, he had a brief stint in their debut season before eventually returning to Sweden to see out the year with Frolunda.
The next season saw him spend the entire year with the Gulls - perplexing fans that he did not receive a call up even when several of the Ducks regular blueline personnel were out hurt. Many thought he had fallen out of favour or was not playing well enough. What they didn’t know was that he suffered a key leg injury to start the season which he then re-aggravated when attempting to return from it too soon. By seasons end, he had played in 50 games for the Gulls, totaling 16 points.
Fast forward to today - Larsson now has 53 total games of NHL experience, having just played some of his best hockey to date during the Gulls recent Calder Cup run where he contributed 7 points in 16 postseason games. Having essentially split the year between Anaheim and San Diego, he is now poised to inherit the third left pairing spot for the upcoming season. I believe this is the year that Larsson turns into the player that many in the Ducks fandom expect him to be.
Julius Nattinen - 59th Overall
The Ducks did not have their own second round pick for this draft, it was used in the deadline deal to acquire James Wisnieski as the Ducks looked to make a deep playoff run that ultimately fell short at the Western Conference Finals. They did, however, have the Rangers second round pick; acquired in the deal that sent Emerson Etem to the Big Apple for Carl Hagelin.
Much like Larsson, Nattinen is largely regarded as a bust. The Ducks drafted him based on the promise he showed during international play where he totalled 31 points in 23 games for the Finnish U18s. Initial scouting reports gave glowing reviews of his cycle game, playmaking ability, and strong two way ability. Knocks on his game at the time of his draft included a lack of tenacity, reluctance to shoot, and a tendency to keep to the perimeter rather than engage. Reading back over his draft profile, I believe that Madden and co. were betting on him becoming the next Samuel Påhlsson. But things didn’t quite go that way.
After compiling an impressive 71 points in 51 games during a rookie campaign for the Barrie Colts during his draft year, he followed that up with a stagnant 38 points in a 51 game run with the eventual Memorial Cup-winning Windsor Spitfires.
In his first pro year, he spent 55 games with the Gulls - compiling just 12 points in a year that saw him in and out of the line-up as Eakins did his best to kick-start his game. Unfortunately, it seemed that the pre-draft analysis warnings of a lack of intensity were getting the better of him.
When Nattinen did not make the Ducks out of camp the following year, he and the Ducks mutually agreed to terminate his three year entry level deal in order for him to go back to Finland to play for JYP. He put up 23 points in 41 games for the Finnish Elite league club and will likely not be seen again.
Brent Gates Jr. - 80th Overall
Again, the Ducks did not have their own third rounder - but they did have two others. They had dealt their own pick in the Tomas Fleischmann for Dany Heatley trade, but had acquired two earlier selections: one in the previously mentioned Wisniewski deadline move, and the Kesler deal with the Canucks from the previous year.
The 80th overall selection was originally Detroit’s but had been dealt to the Ducks via Columbus in the Wisnieksi trade.
Gates Jr. did not have much of a pre-draft profile other than the draft year showing he had at Green Bay of the USHL, putting up 27 points in 33 games. He then spent the next four seasons at the University of Minnesota where he increased his points totals year by year - eventually co-captaining the team in his senior year (last season) and finishing with career-high NCAA totals of 31 points in 38 games, which equates to 21 points over an 82 game NHL season.
He does however, have perhaps the most touching and eloquently written post-draft piece that I have ever read - penned by Jeff Miller of the OC Register (I dunno, maybe I am a sucker for puppies) which hints at the kind of player he is. He’s not exactly a game breaking offensive talent, not even expected to make an NHL top six, but he is a hard working kid with great leadership qualities willing to do whatever it takes to win. He is a product of the same program that served Ryan Kesler and perhaps of the same link that the Ducks were attempting to tap into when they selected him with the first of two third round selections.
He joined the Gulls 2018-2019 Calder Cup drive at the conclusion of his senior season and although he did not make it into the postseason line-up, he did impress me with his fearless drive to the net as well as how smoothly he fit into the line-up - quickly developing chemistry with veterans Sam Carrick and Corey Tropp in the latter part of the regular season. He totaled 2 points in 6 games with the Gulls, including his first professional goal.
He is not currently under contract but should the Ducks sign him to an entry level deal, I am going to make the bold call that he will be the second best Gull to have a breakout year this season behind Jack Kopacka.
Deven Sideroff - 84th Overall
The 84th selection had originally belonged to Vancouver but was acquired in the Kesler trade in the previous year. So to circle back; the complete trade as it now stands is:
Nick Bonino, Luca Sbisa, a 1st Round Pick in 2014 (Jared McCann) and a third round pick in 2014 (Keegan Iverson - selected by NYR after a trade with the Canucks for Derek Dorsett) for Ryan Kesler and a third round pick in 2015 (Deven Sideroff).
Sideroffs pre-draft profile lauded his maturity and quickness.
An offensive winger with tremendous work ethic and determination. Possesses quick feet and quick hands to go along with a high level of thinking when it comes to coming up big in the game’s key moments....All-in-all, a smart hockey player with noticeable speed and determination; plays above his age level. - EliteProspects.com
Sideroff had a career year in the WHL for his draft season, ending with 42 points in 64 games. He had a further four points in seven games for the Canada U18 team in the same year. He went from strength to strength in his remaining two seasons in junior, adding 59 points in 63 games in 2016 and 78 points in 76 games in 2017. He was looking to be a promising prospect for the Ducks given the progess he was making year over year, but it was not until last season - his second pro year, that he really started to show what he might be capable of.
Producing eight points in 47 games in his first full year with the Gulls, he was just beginning to show glimmers of what he could contribute with the strong work ethic previously described in his pre-draft profiles when he went down to injury as a result of a broken hand suffered in a fight two months into the season. He ended the year with just 6 points in 20 games, but played very well on a line with Alex Dostie and Ben Thomson - providing some of the most consistent work by any Gulls trio at that point in the season.
Prior to the injury, he was struggling to remain in the lineup once healthy bodies began to return down from Anaheim. With the graduation of some of the Ducks more highly touted prospects this coming year, he will hopefully have an easier time holding down a spot on the Gulls fourth line alongside Dostie once again. He has one year left on his three year entry level contract and if he does not produce, he will likely be allowed to walk at the conclusion of the year.
Troy Terry - 148th Overall
The Ducks did not possess a fourth round selection, having dealt it as well as their 2015 seventh round selection for Nate Thompson at the previous year’s deadline.
The lack of a fourth round selection purportedly gave Martin Madden great anxiety as he felt the player he coveted at this range would not last until the Ducks next selection in the fifth round. He pleaded with Bob Murray to move up, but the Ducks GM could not swing a deal.
With the fourth to last selection in the fifth round, the Ducks were thankfully still able to get their man.
Terry played most of his draft year with the US National U18 team and the USNTDP juniors, where he had 44 points in 66 games.
After being selected by Anaheim, he then spent the next three seasons at the University of Denver, his hometown college. He progressed his points totals from 22 to 45 to finally 48 points in his junior season. By that point, he had already created quite the name for himself at the 2017 World Juniors in Quebec by proving to be the Ace in the Hole for the US in their back-to-back shootout win victories over Russia in the Semi Finals and Canada in the Finals to win gold.
At the conclusion of his junior season, he signed an entry level deal with the Ducks and played two games, which wiped the first year of his entry level deal. This was speculated to be an agreement in his signing.
He had a rough start to his first pro season, starting the year along with many other unblooded Ducks prospects, with the big club to cover for injuries sustained by a majority of the veteran forward core.
After failing to register a point in his first six games and looking visibly out of sorts on the ice, he was sent down to San Diego to get his confidence back.
Much has been made of that demotion and the words newly promoted Ducks coach Dallas Eakins spoke to him, but he made an instant impact in San Diego, scoring two goals in his first game and going on an eleven game point streak, putting up seven goals and nine assists in that span.
When he was recalled to the Ducks to close out their season, he had 41 points in 41 games with the Gulls as one of their most dangerous offensive weapons.
He followed that up with a further 13 points in 26 games with the Ducks including back to back three point showings, the first Ducks rookie in franchise history to do so before tragically suffering a broken leg when he blocked a shot in the second to last game of the season.
He was unable to recover in time to join the Gulls for their Calder Cup run, but will look to compete for a spot in the Ducks top six to begin the 2019-2020 season.
At this point, he is the Ducks best selection in the 2015 draft and a shining example of the worth that Martin Madden brings to the Anaheim drafting program.
Steven Ruggiero - 178th Overall
The Ducks made up for a lack of seventh round pick (owing to the previously mentioned Nate Thompson trade) by having back-to-back selections in the sixth round thanks to the Emerson Etem/Carl Hagelin trade.
Anaheim used it to select defensive defenseman Steven Ruggiero. The Long Island, NY native had spent his draft year with the USNTDP junior program and played on the U18 gold medal winning team alongside current NHL standout Charlie McAvoy. His pre-draft profile emphasised that he is above all else - a defense first blueliner, but there was mention that he could skate well for his size. They re-iterate that he is still rounding out his overall game and should do that during his tenure in the NCAA.
Sadly, Ruggiero had more than a bit of bad luck to start his post-draft development. After experiencing groin pains to start his sophmore year at Providence College in 2016, an MRI scan revealed he had tears in both hips. He attempted to play through the injury using cortisone shots, returning to his USHL team in a move to regain some confidence and find a new NCAA team. At the conclusion of his USHL season, he underwent surgery to repair both hips, skipping the Ducks development camp that summer so that he could speed up the rehabilitation.
He joined Lake Superior State in 2017 and played in 17 games, contributing one assist. Last season he increased that to 11 points in 37 games.
Having completed three years at college, Ruggiero joined the Gulls as an ATO for their Calder Cup run. He did not see any game time but his arrival indicates that he will likely be present at the Ducks camp this fall and will sign a PTO with the Gulls to start this season. The Ducks will be hoping the injury woes that beset his early deveopment are behid him and that he rediscovers the kind of talent that made him a USNTDP product.
Garret Metcalf - 179th Overall
With the pick acquired from New York in the Hagelin trade, the Ducks selected 6’2” 185lb goaltender Garrett Metcalf. The Salt Lake City, UT native had a 10-12-4 record with a 3.26 GAA and 0.911 SV% playing for the Madison Capitals of the USHL the year of his draft.
He played one more year in the USHL going 13-16-4 across both Madison and Waterloo after a trade near the USHL deadline before committing to UMass-Lowell in 2016.
After seeing just four games of action at UMass-Lowell he requested a transfer and sat out the 2017-2018 season as a redshirt to get his game back on track and attend to his studies while recovering from bi-lateral hip surgery.
He spent last season at Mercyhurst College, going 7-7-0 with a 3.28 GAA and 0.902 SV%.
Given the Ducks selecting three additional goaltenders over the past two drafts, it is not looking likely that he will see any time between the pipes with either the Ducks or the Gulls.