While last season may have been one of the hardest to get through as a Duck fan, the franchise and fans alike were rewarded with a true blue-chip prospect in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft when they selected Trevor Zegras 9th overall. Sure, the they didn’t win the lottery after their worst year since the 2011-2012 season, but Zegras immediately becomes the Ducks number one prospect and gives the them their potential heir-apparent to Ryan Getzlaf.
Zegras hinted at potentially starting with the Ducks this season, but the plan appears to be for Zegras to play at least one year at Boston University. The future Bulldog is not short on confidence as he was quoted, “I know it’s probably not looking great to play on the team to start the season, but I think I can put a really good foot forward and maybe make the roster at the end of the year, after the end of the college season.”
About a month ago, I attended the Ducks prospect camp with a few my fellow Anaheim Calling staffers (and with my 2 ½ year old and 8 month old boys). In between cheerio-feeding and multiple trips up and down the stairs with my older son, I was able to catch most of the Ducks top prospects out on the ice at the same time. They participated in some breakout drills and then followed up with a mock one-on-one then two-on-two and then three-on-three scrimmage. It was a lot of fun and a cool way to showcase some competition without having a true scrimmage.
Here’s a quick mention of the names who stood out to me:
Trevor Zegras – They hype is real. He has legitimate skill and creativity with the puck. He obviously needs to work on adding muscle to his frame and his two-way game, but he is out there to make things happen and he did almost every time he was on the ice. I would say that, while he is not quite NHL ready now, he is not far off as the tools and mind for the game are there.
Max Jones – The big left-winger looked like a man amongst boys. Jones played in 30 games for the Ducks last season and his physical maturity along with natural ability was leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else on the ice. He was a bulldozer every time he touched the puck and created multiple chances for himself and others.
Max Comtois – Similar to the other Max, Comtois stood out from a physical and poise prospective. He just seemed more “ready” than anyone else out there not named Max Jones.
Others that stood out to me were Trevor Janicke (drafted in the 5th round this year), Simon Benoit (undrafted and played last season with San Diego Gulls), Lukas Dostal (drafted in the 3rd round in 2018) and Jackson Lacombe (drafted in the 2nd round this year).
Unfortunately, a handful of the Ducks prospects did not play in the game. That list of names included Brendan Guhle, Sam Steel, Troy Terry, and this year’s other 1st round pick, Brayden Tracey.
Of those four, Tracey will certainly be sent back to junior to play in the WHL for the Moose Jaw Warriors.
As for Guhle, Steel, and Terry, they will more than likely be up with the Ducks to begin this next season which may be the reason they were held out that final day of camp.
In a recent article via NHL.com, Ducks GM Bob Murray relayed his message he to the kids on where the stood when it came to earning a spot with the Ducks next season:
“I’m not going to put six, seven kids in our lineup right off the bat. You’re setting them up for failure, and we have to set them up for success. We have to give them an opportunity to have some success. So they’re fighting for three or four jobs, and they’ve been told that.
”They were just told that a month ago from me, personally. At the development camp, I just said, ‘Guys, I know everybody thinks you’re going to be here, you’re going to be here, you’re going to be here. Nope. Three or four of you will be here, and that’s it. So you’re fighting for jobs.”
I, for one, love the internal competition this creates, as nothing should be handed to any prospect at any time regardless of the current state of the organization. On top of that, I love the idea of these kids coming in and forcing their way onto the team. Show that you can beat out the veterans. Make the coaches have to play you. Force their hand instead of having your hand out expecting a roster spot.
Despite Murray’s comments, it’s certainly possible that more than three or four kids end up starting the season with the Ducks. They’ll just have to earn it.
If we pencil in Sam Steel, Troy Terry, and Brendan Guhle as full time NHLers next season, that potentially only leaves one other spot available on the roster. Let’s take a look at who may earn that spot as well as where the other prospects may end up playing this upcoming season.
This week, we will begin a short series on the state of the Ducks farm system and predict where each one will begin this season, starting with the centers tomorrow!