The Ducks have loaned 21-year-old defensive prospect Hunter Drew to HC Banska Bystrica of the Slovakian league. According to a report on Hokej Portal, the Ducks’ front office reached out to the club to allow for Drew to get playing time prior to the 2020-21 season.
Drew was drafted by the Ducks in the sixth round (178 overall) of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft out of the Charlottetown Islanders of the QMJHL. The story of his career so far has been a quiet resilience — first, making Charlottetown’s roster as a camp invitee in 2016, then doubling his goals from 8 to 16 the season after being a late-round pick by the Ducks. His first 29 games with the San Diego Gulls in the AHL earned Drew an entry-level NHL contract back in March.
Though being sent to a European club might seem like a bit of a demotion, Banska’s club manager Július Koval says otherwise (translation via Google Translate, here’s the original text in Slovak):
“After Montreal, Anaheim Ducks also approached us with the possibility of hosting for their contracted player. This is a young hockey player who needs to play. It is also advantageous for us from an economic point of view, so we complied with Anaheim. Hunter is a hard-working defender who has gone very high in recent years, winning a contract in the NHL. Anaheim wants to work with him. They want it occupied before the camp begins. He is a decent skater, he knows how to start an attack well, he likes to play in the body. He is only 21 years old, which is an interesting prospectus. We believe that the government’s measures will change so that Slovak viewers can also see him.”
An important thing to glean from this is the Drew is expected to be at camp — hopefully in prime shape — because they’ll want him competing for a roster spot sooner rather than later. While his AHL stat sheet isn’t overwhelming, with just seven points over 29 games, the 6-foot-2, 198-pound Drew has been compared to the just-slightly-larger Josh Manson, who did have a 37-point season once. What the Ducks see in him is a player who work hard and has learned to use his size.
Drew will likely suit up for the Gulls again this season, but he may quickly become the prospect to keep an eye on for an NHL debut — a bit of a sad reflection if you think on it too much, but this is the organization that just ranked 21st in Cory Pronman’s annual prospects ranking.
There’s not a whole lot to get excited about just yet, but the 2020 Draft, set for October 6 and 7 should help shake things up a bit.