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Ducks prioritize size in First Round of 2022 NHL Draft

The Ducks select large skaters to bolster positions of strength.

Pavel Mintyukov after being selected as the number ten overall pick to the Anaheim Ducks in the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft at Bell Centre. Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

The Anaheim Ducks entered the 2022 NHL Draft needing to bolster their already impressive core of young talent. A headliner of that group, Mason McTavish, even made an appearance in Montreal alongside management and scouts to welcome the new faces of the organization.

Pat Verbeek and company focused on adding size with the top selections in the draft. A future defensive core already boasting Jamie Drysdale and Olen Zellweger added size and more offense with the 11th-overall pick.

The Ducks added a center to likely slot below McTavish and Trevor Zegras on the team’s future depth chart. However, the 23rd-overall selection brings a different style of game than the club’s other young centers.

PICK No. 10: Pavel Mintyukov, D

Team: Saginaw Spirit (OHL) | Nationality: RUS | Age: 18 | Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 194 | Shoots: L | TSN Ranking: 12 | 2020-21 Stats: 67 GP, 17 G, 45 A

The Ducks took the first Russian of the 2022 NHL Draft, Pavel Mintyukov, who opted to join the Saginaw Spirit ahead of the 2020-21 season, but never played due to the Ontario Hockey League’s COVID shutdown.

In his first full season, the 18-year-old was one of the most impressive OHL defensemen offensively. Ranking third in points among OHL defenders, while two years younger than both players ahead of him, made him stand out among his draft class.

According to Evan Pace of Dobber Prospects, the Russian blueliner’s “skating, offensive instincts, and powerplay game are areas of strength for him, as he constantly jumps up into the rush and helps his team in creating offense.”

Mintyukov is expected to rejoin the Spirit for his second season of North American hockey. He could continue honing his craft at lower levels of hockey after the 2022-23 season, or begin pushing for an NHL spot.

PICK No. 23: Nathan Gaucher, C

Team: Quebec Remparts (QMJHL) | Nationality: CAN | Age: 18 | Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 203 | Shoots: R | TSN Ranking: 28 | 2021-22 Stats: 66 GP, 31 G, 26 A

Next, Anaheim opted for the first French Canadian of the 2022 NHL Draft, selecting Nathan Gaucher. Producing over a point-per-game in his first Quebec Major Junior Hockey League season, the youngster’s productions did not progress this season. Still, having produced similarly in back-to-back QMJHL campaigns, Gaucher garnered the interest of scouts and teams alike.

Dobber Prospects’ Nick Richard feels “he combines good instincts with quick hands around the net and uses his large frame to establish body position to box out opposing defenders. He cleans up more than his fair share of rebound opportunities but he also has the ability to score from the outside with a heavy and quick release.”

The Canadian goal-scorer’s size and shot will be useful when he progresses to the NHL. Gaucher will benefit from internal competition with McTavish and Zegras, and have lots of time to develop under both former top-10 picks.

Looking Ahead

The Ducks will look to add even more young talent with six picks tomorrow, including two second-round selections.

Having already selected a top center and defenseman, I would suspect Pat Verbeek and his staff will add wingers with the later selections. Notable wingers still available as of now include Jack Hughes, Alexander Perevalov, Julian Lutz, Eric Alarie, Sam Alfano, Grayson Badger and Owen Baker.

The 2022 NHL Draft will resume with Round 2 tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. PT/11 a.m. ET. The Ducks hold the 10th pick of the second round.