A long summer without hockey is coming to an end. The Anaheim Ducks rookies kick off our favorite season by putting their skills on display at the 2019-20 Rookie Tournament.
The Anaheim Ducks are hosting a six-team, four-day rookie tournament beginning, Saturday, September 7. They have a stacked roster and should impress. They have decided not to hold any of their already seasoned prospects back and should be able to really take it to some of the new talent other teams will be looking to evaluate.
Just about every NHL team participates in some type of rookie extravaganza before training camps open. This year the Anaheim Ducks are hosting a six-team tournament that runs from September 7-10 at Great Park Ice in Irvine. Five other United States-based teams, San Jose, Los Angeles, Arizona, Colorado, and Vegas are in the field. The home side, however, has a very good roster.
Fans who want a preview of how the Anaheim Ducks star prospects are developing have their chance. With all due respect to the other teams participating, the Ducks bring a stacked roster to the 2019 Anaheim Rookie Faceoff Presented by McDonald’s. It features explosive scoring, up and coming defenseman, as well as, top goaltending prospects.
Players to Watch
Starting in net, 19-year-old Lukas Dostal turned pro last season with Ilves in Finland’s top league. He played 10 games, registering a 4-4-2 record with a 1.80 GAA, and .920 SV%. While John Gibson is not leaving any time soon, Dostal is definitely a player to watch.
The team will also get a look at Roman Durney, drafted in the 2018’s fifth round (62 picks after Dostal) who won 29 games with Des Moines in the USHL. Also on the roster is 2017 fifth-round pick Olle Erickson-Ek who is headed to North America from Sweden this year. He should play some meaningful minutes in San Diego.
The blue line is anchored by three players who saw time with the Anaheim Ducks in 2018-19. Josh Mahura, Brendan Guhle, and 2015 first-round pick Jacob Larsson are the veterans of the group. This is going to be a prove-it year for Larsson. He’s had several attempts to make an impact at the NHL level and has failed to do so. The Swede is very talented, but his star is beginning to fizzle.
Guhle came over in the Brandon Montour trade at last season’s deadline. The Anaheim Ducks really like him, this is his time to shine. Mahura, an offensive-oriented defenseman will likely quarterback the Ducklings power play. He’ll try to stick with the big club as a sixth or seventh defenseman this year. The rest of the blueliners are longshots. Keep an eye on 2018 sixth-round pick Hunter Drew. He had 50 points and 141 penalty minutes for Charlottetown of the QMJHL last season.
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The strength of this roster is definitely upfront. It features a half a dozen players who spent time with the Anaheim Ducks last season. Additionally, four recent first-round and three second-round picks are slated to play. They should put up lots of goals over the four days.
Plenty of eyes will be on Maxime Comtois who passed his 10-game NHL audition last October with flying colors. He put two pucks in the back of the net including his first goal on his first shot in his first shift against the Sharks and five helpers before heading back to the juniors, joining team Canada and then joining the San Diego Gulls in their playoff push.
Joining him on the top line will be highly regarded center Sam Steel and shootout wizard Troy Terry, each of whom enjoyed success in their stints with the big club. Steel displaying some good chemistry with Rickard Rakell and Jakob Silfverberg and Terry played with a ton of poise and composure as a top 6 RW once he returned to the NHL to finish out the season.
Max Jones, Isac Lundestrom, and Kiefer Sherwood played a combined 85 games with the big boys last year with varying degrees of effectiveness and tenacity. Jones brings a heavy physical presence and some snarl, Lundestrom brings solid two-way skills and good passing and Sherwood is a spark plug that gives his all on every shift. They are all in contention for an opening-day roster spot, but GM Bob Murray has already said of the handful of ready prospects only 3 or 4 spots are available.
This rookie tournament is going to be a great showcase before training camp opens for all of these young guns. Among other forwards who could make some noise in the tournament are Benoit-Oliver Groulx, Antoine Morand, and 2019’s 29th overall draft pick Brayden Tracey, all of which are pushing to make their mark. The Anaheim Ducks future is on display now and it looks good.
A big thanks to Ed Stein, former Pucks of a Feather site expert, for contributing to this story.
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