The Anaheim Ducks Recent Draft Success and a Look Forward to the 2023 Draft

Photo Credit: Eric Bolte-USA Today Sports

The 2023 NHL draft is fast approaching, and fans everywhere are running to scouting reports trying to figure out who may be available in the range of where their favorite team will be selecting on that fateful late-June night in Nashville. This will be quite an enjoyable experience for Anaheim Ducks fans. Not only do the Ducks hold the second overall selection in a draft where the tippy top is as loaded as it’s ever been, but they also hold three second-round picks (33rd, 59th, and 60th) and two third-round picks (65th and 85th). That alone is reason enough to get the juices flowing, but the real nectar lies in how the most recent Ducks drafts have set the table for this one to feast. 

The Anaheim Ducks have one of the league’s elite prospect pools. The Highlight of the pool is its star power and depth radiating from the blue line. The list of defensemen in the Ducks organization drafted in the first three rounds and under 23 years old is extensive. Jamie Drysdale (21), Jackson LaCombe (22), and Drew Helleson (22) have all made their NHL debuts and will have the best odds of making the opening night roster for the NHL team. Olen Zellweger (19), Pavel Mintyukov (19), and Tristan Luneau (19) each won their league’s Defenseman of the Year award (with Zellweger winning CHL Defenseman of the Year). Tyson Hinds (20) and Noah Warren (19) are progressing rapidly as lockdown defenders in the QMJHL, as is Ian Moore (21) in the NCAA. That group is as explosive as it is deep. It’s composed of guys who can fill scoresheets, start plays, kill plays, and do everything in between. 

The strength of the 2023 NHL draft, as a whole, lies in the potency and depth at the forward position, the inverse of the Anaheim prospect pool. The list of potential impact forwards is diverse and lengthy. Those who study draft trends will note that year after year, we see NHL Scouting Directors and General Managers reach for defensemen with top picks. Quality blueliners are expensive to acquire on the trade and free agency markets, so it’s no mystery as to why they are valued so highly at the draft. We will likely see the same pattern at the 2023 draft, which will cause an abundance of talented forward prospects to fall further down draft boards than they probably should in a draft year like this one. This trend should play perfectly into the hands of Ducks GM Pat Verbeek and Scouting Director Martin Madden if their goal is to add a bundle of talent at the forward positions. 

“The appeal of this draft is the insane top end and that there are about 60-70 guys who could be late first/early second-round draft picks.”  

-Mitchell Brown (Elite Prospects Director of North American Scouting) on a recent episode of the “Crash the Pond” podcast

The 2023 NHL Entry Draft may be the best draft in recent memory in which to possess five of the top 65 picks like the Anaheim Ducks do. Here are some noteworthy players who could be available to Pat Verbeek and the Anaheim scouting staff…

Forwards to keep an eye on who could fall to pick 33

Gavin Brindley – RW – Michigan – NCAA

Brindley is a relentless, fearless, and highly skilled forward with every tool in the toolbox to make positive impacts on a nightly basis. He flies around the ice as an effective forechecker and often singlehandedly kills plays on the backcheck. He is competitive to the marrow. Why would he fall to the second round, then? He’s a 5-8 157 lb winger, and GMs/scouts favor size, centers, and defensemen with their first-round picks.

Andrew Cristall – LW – Kelowna Rockets – WHL

Cristall’s puck skills and vision are through the roof. He is endlessly creative and seemingly impossible to defend one-on-one due to the absurd amount of misdirection he sends out and his lightning-quick hands. He’s never met a scoresheet he didn’t fill at will. It wouldn’t be farfetched if he didn’t hear his name on night one of the draft due to his below-average stride, questionable defensive desire, and slight frame (5-10, 165 lbs)

2023 Draft Prospect Profile – Andrew Cristall

Brayden Yager – C – Moose Jaw Warriors – WHL

A preseason favorite for a top-10 selection, Yager fell down draft boards as the year progressed due to his game’s lack of progression, development, and production. He is still a high-tempo dead-eye sniper with an excellent feel for how to attack a defense. His talent is undeniable, but his less-than-stellar season may have knocked him out of the first round. 

2023 Draft Prospect Profile – Brayden Yager

Nick Lardis – RW – Hamilton Bulldogs – OHL

Lardis jumped up draft boards after being traded to the Hamilton Bulldogs from the Peterborough Petes this season. He’s a speedy/shifty winger with a high-end release and a non-stop motor. If the season were a month longer and his production remained at a similar clip, he’d be a shoo-in for a first-round selection. 

Forwards who fit Pat Verbeek’s archetype that will likely be available at pick 33

David Edstrom – C – Frolunda – SHL

A 200-foot power center with a nose for the net, Edstrom will quietly and consistently dominate in every zone. He’s not particularly flashy but does the little things right in tight areas of the ice and plays a mistake-free brand of hockey. 

Kalan Lind – LW – Red Deer Rebels – WHL

Lind makes his opponent’s nights miserable every time he steps on the ice. He doesn’t give up on a lost battle, is physical despite his slender frame while finishing every single hit, and will play beyond the whistle. He also possesses an underrated feel for the offensive zone, with good skill around the net and the ability to find soft spots in the slot. 

2023 Draft Prospect Profile – Kalan Lind

Coulson Pitre – C – Flint Firebirds – OHL

Pitre is a forechecking menace who can turn an innocuous dump into a quality scoring chance in the blink of an eye. His skill set is mostly meat and potatoes, but he can turn on the electricity when he needs to. Pitre is built for NHL playoff hockey and could provide a team with timely depth scoring when needed. 

2023 Draft Prospect Profile – Coulson Pitre

Forwards who could/should be available around 59, 60, and 65

William Whitelaw – C – Youngstown Phantoms – USHL

Whitelaw has every offensive tool you could want in a player. He’s fast and is good on his edges, he can get his plus-shot off at will and has a good feel for when and where a puck will pop out of a battle. He improved greatly as the season progressed, but his 5-9 frame will likely knock him down to a bubble second/third-rounder. 

2023 Draft Prospect Profile – William Whitelaw

Carson Rehkopf – LW – Kitchener Rangers – OHL

Rehkopf has the makeup of a player who could have a positive impact in all three zones of the ice. He has an NHL frame (6-1, 195 lbs), plays a responsible brand, and doesn’t have a weakness in his skill set or skating. If he could anticipate and read the play a little quicker, he could easily make more of an impact on the scoresheet. He would be worth a high-upside gamble.

2023 Draft Prospect Profile – Carson Rehkopf

Juraj Pekarcik – LW – HK Nitra – Slovakia

Born just a few days before the mid-September cutoff, Pekarcik may be the youngest draft-eligible prospect this year. Whether he is F1, F2, or F3, he is a remarkably adept forechecker. Scoring 10 points in seven U18 World Championship games has certainly put scouts from all over on notice. He’s got a great motor and an ability to find soft spots in the offensive zone. An underwhelming year in the top Slovakian league (three points in 30 games) caused him to fly under the radar and will probably be the reason he could be available at the end of the second/top of the third round.

As stated previously, these are just a few highlighted names to give a rough idea of the caliber of prospects the Anaheim Ducks will have the luxury of choosing between on day two of the NHL Entry Draft in Nashville. With Anaheim holding six picks in the first three rounds, it is unlikely all those picks will be used on forwards, but it is the area in which the Ducks’ prospect pool needs the most attention. It’s also unclear at this juncture if the Ducks will be making all those selections themselves. Those picks could be packaged to move up in the draft, they can add picks by moving down in the draft, or those picks can be traded for players or future picks. However the draft shakes out, the Ducks are in a great spot to positively alter the future of their franchise at the end of this month. Buckle up. 

Episode 89: The Mighty Debrief Late Arrivals: An Anaheim Ducks Podcast

On this episode of LAP, the guys talk about the wonderful, one might even say MIGHTY, news coming out of Anaheim Thursday morning and share their thoughts on the long awaited rebrand coming to OC. The guys try to predict what the new uniforms may entail and share their excitement for things being how they should once more. Lastly, the guys give their Cup Final predictions and answer listener questions!Follow Late Arrivals Twitter: @latearrivalspodInstagram: @latearrivalspodFollow the hostsChris: @CJKChelConnor: @91_PlutyJake: @_JRobles71Louis: @Louiex37 Intro/ Outro done by Will Rice/ @pastorwillrice
  1. Episode 89: The Mighty Debrief
  2. Episode 88: Minute Muncher
  3. Episode 87: Coach Chaos
  4. Episode 86: It's All Your Fault
  5. Episode 85: One Last Howl

One thought on “The Anaheim Ducks Recent Draft Success and a Look Forward to the 2023 Draft”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2024 NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Raoul Boilard

The Scouting Report Raoul Boilard is a forward in this draft that may not get a lot of hype, but he can be a player that plays important roles. The 6-foot-2 and 190-pound center from Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada, raised some eyebrows last season by recording the most points by a rookie in the Quebec Maritime […]

Read More

2024 NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Teddy Stiga

The Scouting Report: In the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, identifying a player who mirrors winger Teddy Stiga’s dedication can be quite challenging. Stiga is gaining recognition for his persistent effort and unwavering resolve. Despite his 5-foot-10 stature and 177-pound weight, he relies on his other abilities to thrive, as he cannot depend solely […]

Read More

ECHL: Who Should Be The Savannah Ghost Pirates Next NHL Affiliate?

The Savannah Ghost Pirates recently announced that they will announce their new AHL and NHL affiliate on Monday during a Press Conference at Enmarket Arena. They will end their affiliation with the Vegas Golden Knights despite still having two years left on the original multi-year deal that they signed in 2019 before the Ghost Pirates’ […]

Read More