Josh Manson— Anaheim Ducks 2011 6th Round Pick, 160th Overall
Over the past four seasons, Josh Manson has become a staple of the Anaheim Ducks blueline. However, when he was drafted during the 6th round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, not many analysts thought he would ever have a role as a defenseman in the Top 4.
Son of former NHL defenseman, Dave Manson, hockey has been in Josh Manson’s blood since the day he was born. However, he is an interesting case. To start his hockey career, Manson actually played as a forward until juniors when, at the request of his coach, he switched to defense. The wisdom of his coach ultimately paved Manson’s path to the NHL and the Anaheim Ducks.
In his draft year, Manson has a spectacular season, producing 47 points in 57 games with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks of the BCHL. Serving as one of the teams alternate captains, young Manson was growing in his leadership abilities, which would later serve him well in the NHL. However, it was glaringly obvious that he struggled offensively. In hindsight, his skills as a strictly defensively-minded defenseman would serve to benefit the Anaheim Ducks down the road.
Manson opted to take the college road and committed to playing in the NCAA for Northeastern University. This allowed him to progress as both a defenseman and a leader. During his final season with this Huskies, he had the distinct honor of wearing the captain “C” on his sweater and leading his team to a 19-14-4 record as well as being named the best defenseman.
In 2014, Manson signed a 2-year ELC with the Anaheim Ducks and headed to the AHL to play with the Anaheim Ducks affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals. 2014-15 is when he finally got his chance to prove himself. When veteran defenseman Francois Beauchemin, Ben Lovejoy, and Mark Fistric all out due to injury, there was a spot on the blueline open alongside Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, and Sami Vatanen.
Manson’s addition to the lineup also addressed another issue the Anaheim Ducks had been struggling with. Their blueline had been a weakness for them during the 2014-15 season, and the addition of a physical defensively-minded defenseman seemed to be just what the doctor ordered.
Since making his first appearance with the Ducks, Manson has been a consistent member of the blueline, snagging himself a spot in the Top 4. He has built incredible chemistry with Hampus Lindholm and although they have struggled this past season, with a new coach in their future, it would be no surprise if their incredible chemistry continues into the 2019-20 season.
He is never going to be the kind of player who consistently scores goals or is flashy with the puck, but he makes things difficult for their opposing team. He has improved defensively over the years and, especially with a new system being implemented this season, has shown that he can add the element of speed.
Manson has also proven that he can be a valuable asset to the leadership of the Anaheim Ducks. In the absence of Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler this past season, he spent a good chunk of the season in the rotation of alternate captains. With Kesler on LTIR and trade rumors surrounding Perry and his fate with the Ducks, it would be no surprise if we see Manson step into a permanent leadership role in the near future.