After an impressive showing at the World Junior Championship, Jamie Drysdale has carried the momentum into his first pro season with the Anaheim Ducks AHL affiliate, the San Diego Gulls. Do not discount the chance that he could still make his NHL debut in the coming weeks prior to the start of the OHL season.
When the Anaheim Ducks selected Jamie Drysdale with the sixth overall pick back in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, there was excitement in the team finding their new age defensemen for the next decade. While the team has struggled for the last three years being able to put the puck in the net, Drysdale was the consensus top d-man in the draft; and when a team has as many needs as the Ducks do, sometimes it is about the best player available than filling a need.
The 18-year old defenseman has drawn early comparisons to guys like Cale Makar and Quinn Hughes, who currently lead the league in points at their position, as the new wave of offensive-minded players from the blueline. While becoming this player would be a dream for fans, the Ducks should be happy if he becomes anything close to the players Makar and Quinn are.
Drysdale made his OHL debut with the Erie Otters back in the 2018-19 season and put up 40 points in 63 games as a 16-year old. Right from the start, he displayed his offensive talent, making up for being an undersized player from the position.
In his draft year, he only played 49 games due to playing at the 2020 WJC, but put up 47 points, increasing his production. While the top of the 2020 draft was forward heavy, Drysdale’s game put him at the top of the list of defensemen along with Jake Sanderson, who was selected by the Ottawa Senators just one pick prior.
After selecting him sixth overall, the Ducks saw an offensive-minded defenseman to pair with top prospect forward Trevor Zegras in order to fix the team’s anemic scoring production. Ever since the draft, Drysdale has taken every opportunity presented to him to show off his strong two-way potential.
Jamie Drysdale Takes Every Role in Stride
Fans got the opportunity to see the new prospect at the 2021 World Junior Championship, as Drysdale made his second appearance at the tournament. I reviewed his performance shortly after the tournament, highlighting that he had more freedom in limited playing time the previous year as a 17-year old and being the team’s seventh d-man.
This year, however, Drysdale had a much bigger role. He shared the top pairing with Bowen Byram and sacrificing his offensive game in order to be more defensively responsible besides the Av’s top prospect.
While Drysdale excelled from a defensive standpoint at the tournament, since the AHL season has started, he has proven that the offense is still there. To this point, Drysdale has scored 9 points in his first 12 games with the San Diego Gulls. That production was good enough to award him with the AHL Rookie of the Month for February, bringing a sense of excitement for Anaheim Ducks fans for the future.
Jamie Drysdale Provides Hope for the Anaheim Ducks Future
As of this week, Drysdale has joined the Anaheim Ducks taxi squad making some wonder if there is a chance for the 18-year old d-man making his debut with the team before the start of the OHL season. Recently we have seen Trevor Zegras make his much-anticipated debut on the main roster. While he does look like a rookie on the ice, you can still see that he is a dynamic player who will be an important piece to this team in the future.
Drysdale will eventually represent the same, however, should he make his debut this year, do not expect him to jump into the lineup and make an immediate difference. A game or two with the Ducks would be an immeasurable experience, and with Hampus Lindholm on Injured Reserve, the mobility from the blueline would be a welcomed sight. At the end of the day, the best course of action would still be taking what experience he gained playing with the Gulls and finish his year with the Erie Otters of the OHL.
Even after showing as much promise as he has this year, it is important to remember Jamie Drysdale is still 18 and has more growth to blossom into the potential cornerstone we are hoping for. All of the experience he has gained over the past few months will greatly benefit him from this chaotic season. Look for Drysdale to be a major contributor sooner than later on the Anaheim Ducks roster.
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