Jamie Drysdale, Erie Otters, RHD (6th Overall)
Brad Senecal: A
The first thing I did after Jamie Drysdale was drafted by the Anaheim Ducks was send a message to my cousin saying, “I called it!” After every Team Canada game at the last WJC I said that he would be a future Duck.
As time passed on, I felt that maybe he wasn’t the right guy, as the Anaheim Ducks have been hurting for scoring the past few seasons and with players such as Marco Rossi, Cole Perfetti, and Lucas Raymond possibly available, they seemed like players that would be very hard to pass on. To go along with this, if you ask my fellow writers, I have been part of the Owen Power booster club for a while (also, shoutout to Brandt Clarke) so I shifted my thoughts to bolstering forward depth.
However, after the first five picks, I felt that Drysdale was the best player available and still the best defenseman (sorry Ottawa), so when they called his name, I wasn’t surprised. I am looking forward to seeing him become a key cog with the Anaheim Ducks as people want to throw around the Cale Makar comparisons already.
I will not get too ahead of myself, but I understand where the comparisons lie as both players are offensively gifted with the skills to grow into top tier defenders. Like Makar, I hope that the Ducks are patient with Drysdale and give him another year of development (I am unsure what that looks like due to many leagues being on pause), mainly another trip to the World Junior Championship. Boosting the defense is great, however, my grade is definitely boosted on who they were able to get with their next pick, but more of that in a bit.
Garrett Brown: A
The fact that this pick seems to be divisive among the Anaheim Ducks faithful has nothing to do with Drysdale himself. Instead, it goes to show the number of holes that people close to the organization have unanimously agreed need filling.
Admittedly, there were a handful of potential franchise-altering forwards that were made available to the Ducks. Drysdale, however, stands to be a major upgrade on our back end, with the ability to make a large impact offensively and defensively, while making those around him better.
While the Ducks are seemingly years away from competing for a championship, basic team-building strategies stand to reason. With this in mind, success starts from the net out. Gibson is solidly in place. Drysdale will now round out a formidable top four; one that has assuredly increased its offensive upside.
When assessing the team’s draft performances, it’s essential to consider team-fit. In other words, the team’s ability to fill a need or address a concern. In this case, the Ducks are firing on all cylinders with their selection. To play devil’s advocate, they weren’t technically able to address their need for an infusion of offense. However, when taking into account Drysdale’s knack for creating plays and puck distribution, coupled with the Ducks’ following selection, this pick doesn’t present any immediate flaws.
Ben Thomasian: B
From all the commentary out of Madden and Murray these last two days, it appears that they’ve had their heart set on Drysdale for a long while now. They filled that gap in the prospect pool, and now have a right-handed “Cam Fowler-esque” skater to potentially grow into a marquee defensive
quarterback. I like the player just fine, I’m just not certain that he was the best player available to them in their slot, nor that he’ll change the fortunes of the franchise overly much.
It does provide the opportunity to trade one of the big three defencemen (likely Manson) in a season or two, to get Drysdale meaningful NHL minutes, and gives the Anaheim Ducks a succession plan for Fowler. There’s value in that, though I can’t help but wonder if we’ll look back in 5 to 10 years and wish we’d selected Marco Rossi or one of the other high-profile scorers. My grade reflects my FOFO, not necessarily the player himself.
Ciara Durant: B+
Since well before the draft even had a determined date, I have been adamant about the fact that I thought the Anaheim Ducks should shy away from drafting Jamie Drysdale. This has nothing to do with Drysdale as a player, and more to do with the fact that I wholeheartedly believed that the Ducks should focus on adding an elite goal scorer to their cupboard. However, hindsight is 20/20 and I do admit that I wasn’t looking at the bigger picture.
Granted, the Jacob Perreault pick definetly raised Drysdale’s grade (which we will get to later.) I commend Murray for filling a need the Anaheim Ducks were desperate for. Last year, he added Trevor Zegras, an incredible playmaker, and Brayden Tracey, a puck wielding wizard of sorts. This year, his focus was to find a solution to the Ducks lethargic blueline.
There is no doubt that Drysdale is the best defenseman of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. I’ve seen his game compared to that of former Anaheim Duck, Scott Niedermayer (more of a stylistic comparison than anything.) The young offensive-minded defenseman is still a strong two-way defender that helps the Ducks make the jump into the “new age” style of hockey.
He is possibly one of the best and strongest skaters of the draft, which is in large part to his background in figure skating and training with Dawn Braid. Drysdale can quarterback a powerplay, and the Anaheim Ducks don’t really have a player who can fill that role and do it well. Not to mention, he is a natural-born leader, and you can never have too many of those on your team.
All in all, despite my hesitance, Drysdale is a very solid pick for the Anaheim Ducks. If you look at it this way, he’s really a gift for John Gibson, and, in my opinion, better Drysdale than Sanderson (who the Ducks had on their list after Drysdale.)