The 35-37-10 Anaheim Ducks had a season to forget.
They were ravaged by injuries to Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler (which may be career-ending) among others. The offensive production was nowhere to be found, and they went from one of the best defensive cores in the NHL to one of the worst in a season and a half. John Gibson is a great young goalie, but he’s no Carey Price, and his breaking point was far surpassed this season. But there’s still hope for this team, believe it or not. Sure, they are handcuffed with some awful contracts, but guys like Maxime Comtois, Ondrej Kase, Rickard Rakell and Sam Steel were bright spots. If they can get another high-end prospect in this draft, they could be back in the playoffs in 2 or 3 seasons time. So, who could they take at 9th overall? Here are some options.
Alex Turcotte, Center, USNTDP, USHL
At this point in the draft, the 5’11, 194 pound Turcotte may already be off the board, as he could go as early as third overall.
The Island Lake, Illinois native dominated the USNTDP junior league, racking up 12 goals and 22 assists (34 points) in only 16 games. His performance with the USNTDP warranted a call-up to the US U18 National Team, where he continued dominating with 27 goals and 35 assists (62 points) in 37 games.
Next season, he is committed to the University of Wisconsin, which means he will not be playing at the NHL level next season regardless of how well he does in rookie camps in the offseason.
Over the last 2 seasons, he has played 14 World Junior Championship games with the US team, recording 6 goals and 8 assists (14 points), for exactly a point per game average.
It’s clear his level of play rises with the competition, and whoever drafts him should keep a close eye on his development in the NCAA. Using PNHLe, which calculates a players potential, Turcotte is very close to having superstar potential, and looks to be well on his way of elite potential.
Trevor Zegras, Center, USNTDP, USHL
The 6 foot, 168 pound Zegras will likely be available at number 9, or taken a pick or two earlier, as not many people have him going top 5 in this draft.
That’s to no fault of his own, he’s been playing behind the seemingly unanimous first overall pick in Jack Hughes, and the guy named above, Turcotte, on the USNTDP team. But he still showed dominance at this level, putting up 14 goals and 26 assists (40 points) with the USNTDP Juniors before joining the US U18 National team, recording 26 goals and 61 assists (87 points) in 60 games. He played far more games than Turcotte, which allowed him to blow his stats out of the water. He added 9 assists in 5 World Junior Championship games with the US team, his first time playing in the WJC.
Like Turcotte, he already committed to a college, as he’s playing for Boston University next season.
Using PNHLe, he projects to be a top 6 center, although closer to 1st line potential, but isn’t quite in the elite potential yet, as Turcotte is. Like with Turcotte, next season in the NCAA will go a long way to decide who truly is the better prospect.
Victor Söderström, Right Defenseman, Brynas IF, SHL
The 5’11, 187 pound, right-handed defenseman Söderström, has already begun playing against men. He started the season with the Brynas IF U20 team in the SuperElit league, playing 14 games with 1 goal and 8 assists (9 points), before getting brought up to play against the big boys. The Swedish version of the NHL, the SHL boasts a boatload of talent, yet the two-way defenseman Söderström held his own, recording 4 goals and 3 assists (7 points) in 44 games. Söderström played 2 games in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup with 1 goal and 1 assist, and in the WJC with Sweden, he played 4 games with 1 assist.
There is one problem, however. Now, this is all analytical and backed by statistics that not everyone uses to evaluate a prospect, but his PNHLe places him with a potential of second line defense, or worse.
Other sites, such as Last Word on Hockey and DobberProspects, projects that he has top 4 potential, however, so take that for what it’s worth. Arguably the second best defenseman in this draft, he has the talent to be a top 10 pick, and would be a good addition for the Ducks at 9th overall.
If I were Bob Murray, General Manager of the Anaheim Ducks, I would look to move up a couple of spots, if possible, to ensure the Alex Turcotte selection.
But, if they are unable to move up, they have to hope he drops into their laps, which is unlikely.
Worst case scenario, they get a great defensive prospect in Söderström or a top forward prospect who may have been overlooked in this draft in Zegras.
Check out where Turcotte, Zegras and Söderström rank on our top 31 rankings.
We here at Puck77 are in need of an Anaheim Ducks contributor. If you or someone you know is interested in writing for the Ducks, or for any other NHL team, click here.
All stats via dobberprospects
PNHLe projections via dobber prospects
Featured Image Photo Credit – Nikos Michals