In rounds 5 and 6, the Anaheim Ducks had another three picks thanks to their two selections in the 5th. With those picks, they selected 18-year-old left-winger Sean Tschigerl, 19-year-old goaltender Gage Alexander, and 18-year-old forward Kyle Kukkonen.
Sean Tschigerl seems to have some upside, but it does make sense that he was a 5th round pick. He had some really impressive stints on some prep teams, and at one point put up 47 points in just 28 games, and his last season in the WHL showed some nice promise with 21 points in 21 games. Still, he won’t be ready for the AHL or the NHL for many years, so there isn’t much to look forward to just yet. He has yet to decide where he will be playing this upcoming season.
Just as Tschigerl won’t be ready for a long time, Gage Alexander also won’t be in the AHL or NHL for many years. It was nice to see the Ducks take a goalie, and a very promising one at that, but there are a lot of prospects that will be playing for that backup spot behind John Gibson for a while. Still, Alexander went 6-3-0 last season in 9 games with a .917 win percentage and looks like a nice goalie for the San Diego Gulls in a few years. He is committed to playing for the Winnipeg Ice of the WHL next season.
Kyle Kukkonen is a very promising playmaker that has put up some nice assisting numbers in the past, but he’s a while out from seeing ice time with the Ducks organization as a sixth-round pick. His last stint in the North American Hockey League saw him put up 16 points in 19 games, and he put up a humungous 74 points in 23 games in a high school league just before that. However, it is clear that the jump from league to league will take some more getting used to for Kukkonen. With all the great playmakers the Anaheim Ducks already have, it’ll still be nice to add another one to the depth pool.
In closing, the 2021 NHL Draft will most likely not be the turning point for the Anaheim Ducks that the fans might have wanted it to be. With Bob Murray’s hesitance to give prospects more play in the NHL and assigning AHL stints that last far too long, it would be a surprise to see that 3rd overall pick in Mason McTavish pay off this upcoming season.
The Ducks do have some promise with all of the depth they have, but it is clear that their offense will still be one of the worst in the league and the defense is still in dire need of an overhaul. It inspires hope to think about McTavish, Olen Zellweger, and Josh Lopina making their debuts hopefully within the span of two years, but for Sasha Pastujov, Tyson Hinds, Sean Tschigerl, Gage Alexander, and Kyle Kukkonen, it is hard to see them making it far in the Anaheim Ducks organization while they are still needed.
Here’s to hoping that the Anaheim Ducks at least start to hit some kind of stride defensively next season, it is clear that the offense has a ways to go before getting the help it needs. Maybe the 2022 NHL Draft will contain a player that makes a truly quick impact, the Ducks just have to play like they did last season to pick them.