This is part 8 of my Prospect File series where I update you guys’ on Hockey’s Future’s Top 20 Anaheim Ducks prospects. This will be a daily series that will hopefully end before the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. I will also be doing a series on possible players the Ducks will take with their first round pick. Part 7 was on center Kevin Roy. So, next up in part 8 is #13 on HF’s Top 20, defenseman Andrew Welinski.
Andrew Welinski was selected by the Anaheim Ducks in the third round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. The Duluth, Minnesota native was named the Defenseman of the Year in his final season with the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL. He tallied 15 goals and 22 assists for 37 points with 37 PIM and a +35 in 54 games that season. He also lead the Gamblers to the USHL Championship that year. Afterwards, Welinski committed to play college hockey for his hometown school, University of Minnesota-Duluth. He joined a UMD squad that had lost many of its best players and played a key role and logged a lot of minutes in his freshman season. He was a candidate to play for Team USA in the WJC, but was couldn’t make the final cut mainly because of how he struggled to adjust to the speed of the college game early on in his freshman season. He improved as the season went along and was able to build a solid foundation for the rest of his collegiate career. He doesn’t have great size but can throw his weight around with a little nastiness. If he can continue to adjust to the speed of the game, he can develop into a solid defenseman that can play in the NHL.
“After big names like Vatanen and Lindholm, 20-year-old Andy Welinski is the next best thing the Ducks system has on defense. Welinski was playing for University of Minnesota-Duluth this year, which was his first year up from the USHL Green Bay Gamblers. While his offensive numbers look solid with 18 points in 38 games, Welinski struggled to keep up defensively at times. That is of course expected of a first year college player and he will get better moving forward. He has the tools to be a solid defender with grit, skating, and puck moving abilities, but his adjustment to the speed of the game will be a decisive factor in his future.
Welinski hardly struck you in the face with his numbers during his draft year, but coaches, scouts, teammates and opponents all raved about his potential. This year, his numbers have validated that praise. He has proven himself a fluid skater with a hard, dangerous shot and a bit of a nasty edge to his defensive game.
Welinski is still in the early stages of his development but after some time at the NCAA level, he could fulfill his potential as a top-four defenseman on an NHL roster. He has likened his game to that of Jack Johnson, a puck-carrying D-man with a strong shot and a high level of competitiveness.”
Next up in the series will be winger Max Friberg.