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Duckling Season: The Centers

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Anaheim has finally built up a respectable table of centers in an area that was once lacking.

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


CENTERS

Sam Steel - 2016 1st Round Pick (30th Overall)

Height: 5’ 11”

Weight: 186 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: Steel spent some time in Anaheim last season. While the beginning of the season with the Ducks did not go so well, his second stint with the Ducks went much better. During 22 games with the Ducks, he scored 11 points (6G, 5A). He then excelled in the AHL playoffs with the San Diego Gulls in which he had 13 points (6G, 7A) in 16 games. He has a legitimate shot to slot into a center role for the Ducks on opening night. We will see how the lines shake out, but he could be anywhere from the 3rd line center to top line center.

Isac Lundestrom - 2018 1st Round Pick (23rd Overall)

Height: 5’ 11”

Weight: 185 lbs

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

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

Contract: 2 years left on ELC

Why he will be there: Playing both center and wing, Lundy made a brief appearance with the Ducks skating in 15 games last season. He also played 12 total games with the Gulls including an additional 7 games during the Calder Cup playoffs. He showed flashes of his speed, IQ, and possession ability, but never played consistently due to personal injuries and being used up and down the line up (both with the Ducks and Gulls). Another year in San Diego will be good for him as he can develop his offensive game further while getting consistent opportunities.

Trevor Zegras - 2019 1st Round Pick (9th Overall)

Height: 6’ 0”

Weight: 173 lbs

Where he played last season: USDP (USHL)

Where he will play in 2019/2020: Boston University (NCAA)

Contract: Has not signed ELC

Why he will be there: Zegras has all the tools and is the Ducks top prospect at any position. A season at BU will give him an opportunity to add some muscle to his frame while also playing against older players. There is a chance he could end up on the Ducks or Gulls roster in some capacity at end of the NCAA season/playoffs. He is coming off an impressive showing at the World Junior Summer Showcase is which he had 5 points (2G, 3A) in 6 games played. It will be fun to track his development this year.

Antoine Morand - 2017 2nd Round Pick (60th Overall)

Height: 5’ 11”

Weight: 185 lbs

Where he played last season: QMJHL - Halifax Mooseheads

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

Contract: 3 years left on ELC

Why he will be there: Morand is coming off of his final season in juniors where he put up 70 points (22G, 48A) in 62 games with the Halifax Mooseheads. He will enter year one of his three year entry level deal and a season or two in the AHL will do well for him in further developing his overall game. When he was drafted, he was noted as a speedy playmaker with high hockey IQ. Although his point totals didn’t dramatically increase on a season by season basis, he has continued to round out his two way game and should continue to do so in San Diego this season.

Benoit-Oliver (B.O.) Groulx - 2018 2nd Round Pick (54th Overall)

Height: 6’ 2”

Weight: 194 lbs

Where he played last season: QMJHL - Halifax Mooseheads

Where he will play in 2019/2020: QMJHL - Halifax Mooseheads

Contract: Has not signed ELC

B.O. Groulx will be entering his final season of junior hockey where he projects to be the top line center for the Halifax Mooseheads. His offensive production has steadily increased each of his last three season in Halifax which should be good news to Ducks fans, as scouting reports on Groulx typically mentioned his rock solid two way game, but always mentioned the need to develop his offensive game. While he does not project to be with Ducks or Gulls during their regular seasons, he could come in as “Black Ace” for a potential Gulls playoff run.