The Anaheim Ducks held their annual prospect camp this past week at Anaheim ICE. This one week camp is for the best prospects in the Ducks system to get together and be run through practices and two inter-squad scrimmages. Now these are young kids who with the exception of a few will not be in Anaheim for a couple of years. But this is a great chance for the coaching staff and for fans to see the future of Ducks hockey and who could be sporting the webbed D in the future. Unfortunately due to the fact I live on the other side of the country in Massachusetts I could not be in attendance for the scrimmages, which are the only parts of the camp open to the public. However thanks to great fans and readers of the site I was able to get some help from first-hand accounts. (Please give these people a follow on Twitter for great Ducks and hockey insight)
“Kerdiles is the complete package, great in all three zones and great with and without the puck. Has the shot and vision on the offensive side and is sound defensively. Rakell should to be the 3C but Kerdiles could be the first call up”
‘Noesen: Plays a nice power forward game, extremely impressive after missing all of last season with injury. Good, physical play along the boards and drives the net. Could be close to NHL ready”
“Ritchie looked good, could be more effective if he got a little faster. Plays a smart game for a big guy, 2 or 3 years away”
“Theodore, Montour, and Pettersson were the most impressive D. Once in the offensive zone Theodore seemed like an extra forward, sees the ice well and has a great shot from the point that gets through. Montour was a puck magnet, puck seemed to find him all over the ice and he is smart player that knows where to be. Had a nice goal on a rebound, good skater and good stick work as well, Really liked his game on both offensive and defensive sides. Could be a great pick for the Ducks”
“Loads of talent all around but Kerdiles, Theodore and Helgesen were the standouts for me”
“Will be great to see these guys in pre-season Ritchie could be a great player for the Ducks but could be more effective if he gets a little faster. Looked real good and is a real big kid for someone so young”
The overwhelming consensus from the two Ducks fans that I was able to talk to and the others on Twitter was how well Nic Kerdiles played. Kerdiles had a hat-trick to help his team to a 6-0 win during the first scrimmage and followed that performance up with a goal in a 5-3 win for his squad during the second game. Four goals in 2 games is real good and yes this was against other prospects but even still he seems to be the top of the prospect pool. This shouldn’t surprise anyone as Kerdiles has exceled everywhere he has been and in one of my previous articles I ranked him as the Ducks #1 prospect. Kerdiles, however is in an interesting position. He is a center who decided to forego his final 2 years of NCAA eligibility when he left the University of Wisconsin last season to sign and be added to the Norfolk Admirals roster. The Ducks center depth is solidified with the one two punch of Ryan Getzlaf and just acquired Ryan Kesler. Followed by Rickard Rakell and the also acquired Nate Thompson as the bottom two centers. Seeing that the Ducks gave up two draft picks (a 4th and a 7th round pick) to acquire Thompson I have to imagine he’s the new 4th line center. Rakell showed flashes of what he can do and was impressed enough to be inserted into some playoff games this past season. I have to imagine Rakell gets his shot as the 3rd line center to start the season but if Kerdiles has the same showing in training camp that he had in prospect camp it will be tough to keep him off the roster. The Ducks could attempt to transition him to wing but I believe the best course of action is, give Rakell his shot and let Kerdiles have a full season in the AHL. Kerdiles can always get the call up should injuries arise. Whether it is this season or next Kerdiles will be in Anaheim in the not to do distant future.
Another prospect that fans seemed over joyed with is Brandon Montour. Montour was one of the two second round pick of the Ducks at the 2014 draft. Montour is a defenseman that had a phenomenal season for the Waterloo Blackhawks of the United States Hockey League (USHL). He posted 14 goals and 48 assists in 60 games played for Waterloo. These stats were good enough to help Montour be the highest scoring defensemen in the USHL and 9th of all players in the league. He would also win Defensemen of the Year and Player of the Year. All these stats and accolades got Montour a scholarship to play at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst of Hockey East. Montour will become another one of the Ducks prospects headed to college which means unless he leaves yearly Montour is at least 4 years away from playing in Anaheim. Hockey East is arguably the toughest college hockey conference in the country, so he will be able to grow and develop playing against the best teams in the country. The Ducks official site did an interview with him following today’s scrimmage and here are a couple of his answers.
On what camp taught him, “All week, the coaches brought me aside and taught me the ins and outs that we need to learn to make the next level.” On his playing style, “I’m and offensive defensemen and this year in Waterloo definitely helped me transition my game into two-way defensemen, This whole year was a process, and I’m excited to keep it going”.
Montour’s offensive side is well documented and he showed that with two goals in the scrimmage today. It seems his play in the defensive end could use some improvement but he seems to know that. With the potential to play four years of college hockey he will learn those things and be better for it. But the fact he stood out in his first ever NHL prospect camp gives us a glimpse that the Ducks may have hit this pick right on the head and could have a phenomenal offensive defenseman in the pipeline.
Shea Theodore was also highly spoken of during his time at prospect camp. Theodore was the Ducks first round pick in the draft of 2013 and was someone the Ducks thought could continue their trend of offensive defensemen. However the issue with Theodore was his offensive upside was mired by his lack of solid play in his own end. That changed this past season when he posted 79 points in 70 GP with the Seattle Thunderbirds and also was a + 19. I don’t think we see Theodore this season with the log jam of D in Anaheim and the raw talent Theodore still is. But hes still a teenager and year in the AHL should do him good and then maybe he will be pushing for a spot in Anaheim. Expect him in 1-2 years.
The prospect camp ended today and we are one step closer to the beginning of the 2014-2015 season. The prospects highlighted here are not the only ones that performed well but the ones that stood out above the rest. The Ducks have one of the highest ranked prospect pools in the league and not every prospect in the system is at this camp. But if these kids are any indication of the talent the Ducks can draft, and these are the kids that will be making up the team in a few years the Ducks are going to be a very good team for a very long time.