It’s that time of year again folks. Time for me to rank the best of the best of Anaheim Ducks prospects. This is the first part of my six part series looking into the Ducks farm system. Just like last year, there will be the honorable mentions article and then an individual article for each of the top five prospects, counting down in order of course. In case you guys are wondering, I’m getting my information for this from websites like hockeysfuture.com, eliteprospects.com, hockeyprospectus.com and thehockeynews.com.
G – John Gibson – Kitchener Rangers (OHL): This guy might be the most popular prospect in the Ducks system right now purely because of his performance in the 2013 World Junior Championships for Team USA. He has played in all 6 games for the USA and has performed remarkably, posting a 1.42 GAA and a .954 SV %. The Ducks picked the Pittsburgh native in the 2nd round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft (39th overall). NHL.com has him sized at 6′ 3″-206 lbs. He has been a star for the Kitchener Rangers since he joined them last season. In 2011-2012, he posted a record of 21-10 with 1 shutout and had a 2.75 GAA and a .928 SV %. This season, in 20 games played for the Rangers, he has 13 wins and has posted 2.33 GAA and 0.929 SV %. Gibson has really become a solid goaltender in every aspect. He doesn’t really have any major weaknesses. He will certainly be a guy that will dress in the black and gold for the Ducks at some point.
D – Hampus Lindholm – Norfolk Admirals (AHL): The first time many of us, me included, heard of him the first time when the Ducks drafted him 6th overall in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. It was a very surprising pick at the time, but since then we’ve learned more about him. He’s from Helsingborg, Sweden and is listed at 6′ 2″-185 lbs. In 19 games played this season with the Norfolk Admirals, ha has registered 1 goal and 4 assists for 5 points. He is also +2 and has committed 10 PIM. Lindholm was going to be an important piece of Sweden’s blue line for the 2013 WJC’s, but was ruled out of the entire tournament due to a concussion before the tournament even started. He’s another guy who is solid in every aspect. He is good skating defenseman who is used in every situation during a game. It’s also pretty find any major weakness in his game. Even with the Ducks signing some new defenseman over the offseason, Lindholm was still expected to attend training camp and challenge for a starting spot. He was probably going to be sent to Norfolk anyway, though.
C – William Karlsson – HV71 (SEL):Probably one of the lesser known prospects for the Ducks, probably because he has yet to come over to North America to play. He has grown up through the Swedish system has just made his debut in the Elite League for HV71. The Ducks picked Karlsson in the 2nd round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft (53rd overall). Karlsson is listed at 6′ 0″-176 lbs. From Marsta, Sweden, Karlsson is on the Team Sweden roster for the 2013 WJC’s. He has appeared in every game for Sweden while registering 2 assists with 2 PIM while being +1. Before the tournament, Karlsson appeared in 31 games for HV71. He has tallied 3 goals and 13 assists for 16 points with 6 PIM while being +13. He is very speedy, two-way player who would fit in very well in North America. He is more of a creator than a finisher. The only thing Karlsson needs to work on before he makes the trip over to N.A., is that he needs to bulk up and get stronger, he does only weigh in at 176 lbs. He could become a good 2nd line center, but if he doesn’t develop enough offensively, he could be a very good defensive 3rd or 4th line center.
F – Nicolas Kerdiles – University of Wisconsin (NCAA): The Irvine-native was taken by the Ducks in the 2nd round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft (36th overall). Kerdiles, 6′ 1″-196 lbs, has grown up through the United States National Team Development Program. Playing for the USNTDP, he has gotten a lot of international exposure, including a gold medal in the U18 World Junior Championships with other top prospects, Jacob Trouba and Brady Skjei. He committed to the University of Wisconsin in a kind of controversial decision because of some possible recruiting violations. He was suspended by the NCAA, which ended up being 10 games after an appeal by Wisconsin and Kerdiles. So in limited action with the Badgers, Kerdiles has tallied 2 goals and 3 assists for 5 points with 19 PIM while being +2. What scouts have said about what stands out about Kerdiles is his maturity. Like I said before, he has gotten a lot of international exposure and that experience has matured him beyond his years. He is a two-way prospect, but does have some good puckhandling skills and offensive instincts. He is the kind of player who won’t be flashy, but will work hard all over the ice and won’t stop until he gets the puck. He would fit well on the wing on the second line.
LW – Max Friberg – Timra IK (SEL): One of the fastest riser among the ranks of Ducks prospects. It probably is all because of his performance in the 2012 World Junior Championships when he lead the tournament in goals and helped lead Sweden to their second ever gold medal. The Ducks drafted him in the 5th round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft (143rd overall). Friberg is one of the smaller prospects for the Ducks, listed at 5′ 10″-194 lbs. He’s gotten off to a bit of a slow start for Timra, recording only 6 goals and 6 assists for 12 points with 10 PIM while being -6, in 33 games played. Friberg is a smaller guy but it is pretty strong and pretty fast. He’s a great teammate with a great work ethic. He showed off his offensive potential in the WJC’s last year with the 9 goals and 2 assists for 11 points in 6 games for Sweden. He has yet to make the trip over to North American to play, but many don’t see him having a tough transition to the North American style of play. He is yet another Ducks prospect that projects to a solid second line player.
This was really tough just to pick out some honorable mentions. The Ducks system is filled with good prospects and there are a few other guys that could be honorable mentions. One guy that could be here or in the top five is Devante Smith-Pelly, but I felt him out of this as I don’t see him as a prospect any more as he has seen plenty of time with the big club. Another guy that I like is defenseman Andy Welinski who currently plays for the University of Minnesota-Duluth. I also thought John Gibson should be in my top five prospects, but I decided to keep him in the honorable mentions because…..I don’t know. I really like the three Swedes on this list. I think Lindholm, Karlsson and Friberg will all suit up for the Ducks at some point. Kerdiles has some promise and we’ll see how he develops. I’m sorry it took me a while to get this out. I planned on posting this last week, but I’ve been busier than I thought I would be on this, the day of my daughter’s wedding…..I mean the weeks of my winter break. I’ll try to get the next post, fifth top prospect, out by at least the middle of the week.
Topics: AHL, Anaheim Ducks, Andy Welinski, Devante Smith-Pelly, Hampus Lindholm, HV71, John Gibson, Kitchener Rangers, Max Friberg, NCAA, NHL, Nicolas Kerdiles, Norfolk Admirals, OHL, SEL, Timra IK, University Of Minnesota-Duluth, University Of Wisconsin, William Karlsson