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Duckling Season: The Left Wings

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Max vs. Max and a couple of other guys too.

Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In this series, we look at the top Ducks prospects at each position and attempt to predict where they will be playing this season based on current evaluations.

RULES OF WHAT PLAYERS QUALIFY AS “TOP PROSPECT” FOR THIS EXERCISE

1) I wanted to keep my focus on players who have a legitimate chance at starting the season with either the Ducks or the San Diego Gulls. So you will not see Henry Thrun (this year’s 4th round pick) mentioned as he has no shot of playing for either team this year. The only exceptions are this year’s first round picks: Trevor Zegras and Brayden Traycey.

2) To further narrow down the list, I mainly focused on guys who were drafted in the first two rounds of recent drafts. These will more than likely be the names most people or casual fans are familiar with. The only exception is Troy Terry who was a late bloomer and selected in the 5th round in 2015. He has a legitimate chance not only be on the Ducks opening night rosters, but be a major contributor on the Ducks top six forward group. The goalie prospects are also exceptions to this rule.

3) The age cap is set to 23, so newly signed Andrew Poturalski (AHL playoff MVP with the Charlotte Checkers) does not count as a prospect in this exercise.

4) Players that played over 30+ games with the Ducks in each of the last 3 years were not included. This would be Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase who will no doubt be in the Ducks opening line up (trade/injury pending).

So here we go…one more time…everybody’s feelin’ fine…(pardon the N’Sync lyric break). Editor’s Note: Tony never apologize for an N’Sync break in fact you’re promoted - CJ

**Note - I am bending (not fully breaking) some of my prospect guidelines in discussing the wingers. Ducks and Gulls fans are very much familiar with Kiefer Sherwood and Jack Kopacka so I figured I would break them down as well seeing as they have a shot to play themselves into a depth role with the Ducks or at the very least, will be major contributors to the San Diego Gulls.


Max Jones - 2016 1st Round Pick (24th Overall)

Height: 6’ 3”

Weight: 220 lbs

Where he played last season: Anaheim Ducks/San Diego Gulls

Where he will play in 2019/2020: Anaheim Ducks

Contract: 2 years left on ELC

Why he will be there: Jones gave Ducks fans a preview of what he brings to the table last season: size, speed, tenacity, and great hands. While his abilities did not translate into point production, we saw many dominant moments from the big winger. Whether he was rushing up the perimeter then cutting to the net with a bevy of power moves, cycling the puck in the corners seemingly controlling the puck for his entire shift, or occasionally breaking ankles, Jones showed off a very unique combination of skill sets. Depending on how the lines shake out, I think one of Jones or Comtois (the other Max), will be in Anaheim while the other marinates in San Diego. Heading into camp, one would have to think that Jones has the advantage given his time with the big club.

*Side note - the Max Jones, PK Subban scuffle during the Nashville vs. Anaheim game led to one of my favorite moments of the season. Jones and Subban were in the thick of a post whistle scrum. Subban appeared to be doing Subban things and Jones took exception. PK appeared to want no part of Jones until the refs stepped in and escorted them to the penalty boxes. Jones was seen chirping Subban saying “Now you wanna talk. Yeah, yeah, you like talking? You like talking?” Loved every moment of it.

Max Comtois - 2017 2nd Round Pick (50th Overall)

Height: 6’ 2”

Weight: 210 lbs

Where he played last season: Anaheim Ducks/San Diego Gulls/Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL)

Where he will play in 2019/2020: San Diego then Anaheim

Contract: 2 years left on ELC

Why he will be there: As mentioned above, one of Max Jones or Max Comtois will more than likely start the season in Anaheim while the other will be in San Diego. Given Jones already has a year under his belt in both the AHL and NHL, Comtois will need to come into to camp and wow the Ducks staff in order to make the roster opening night. While his underlying numbers were not great with the Ducks, Comtois has done nothing but produce at all levels. In the 10 games he played in Anaheim, he had seven points (2G, 5A). He then went on to put up 48 points (31G, 17A) in just 25 games in Drummondville. Finally, he came in as a “black ace” for the San Diego Gulls playoff push and contributed nine points (5G, 4A) in 12 games. I, for one, want both Comtois and Jones in the roster opening night. I also (hot take here) feel that we are looking at the potential future captain or at least assistant captain in Comtois and Jones (sorry for the added pressure boys, but I think that highly of you), but in the meantime, Comtois will likely begin his professional development in San Diego.

Brayden Tracey - 2019 1st Round Pick (29th Overall)

Height: 6’ 0”

Weight: 177 lbs

Where he played last season: Moosejaw Warriors (WHL)

Where he will play in 2019/2020: Moosejaw Warriors (WHL)

Contract: Has not signed ELC

Why he will be there: Taken from Anaheim Calling’s draft day recap:

“Tracey was one of the top rookies in the WHL last year - winning him the Rookie of the Year Award - and made his way onto Canada’s top power play at the U18s. Described as a creative player with high-end offensive hockey sense who loves to go to the net, scoring a lot of goals in the tough areas. Knocks on his game are his skating but that can be corrected and a potential to sometimes try to do too much - again something I don’t have an issue with. He suffered an injury late in the regular season which caused him to miss most of the Warriors first round loss to the Blades.”

When watching Tracey’s highlight videos, you see scoring from everywhere. Some are snipes, some are off the rush, and some of them are the greasy goals. It will be interesting to see his sophomore season with Moose Jaw as he will be without fellow WHL standout linemates Tristan Langan and Justin Almeida.

Jack Kopacka - 2016 4th Round Pick (93rd Overall)

Height: 6’ 3”

Weight: 192 lbs

Where he played last season: San Diego Gulls

Where he will play in 2019/2020: San Diego Gulls

Contract: 2 years left on ELC

Why he will be there: Kopacka may not be as well known to Ducks fans as some other prospects, as he has only has one professional season under his belt with the San Diego Gulls. He suffered a freak injury when his wrist was cut by a skate in the first two weeks of the season. He went on to play in 32 games with the Gulls finishing with 14 points (6G, 8A) while also contributing three more points (1G, 2A) in six playoff games. While his point totals may not jump off the page, he has stood out to me in the few prospect games/camps I have attended. While I do not think he will see the NHL this season barring another slew of injuries to the forward group, he figures to be a big part of the Gulls 2019/2020 season.