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Anaheim’s Second Day At The Draft
By Thomas Harrington
After selecting Isac Lundestrom 23rd overall in the first round of the draft, the Anaheim Ducks had six picks heading into the second day: 54th overall in the second round, 79th overall in the third round, 85th overall in the third round, 116th overall overall in the fourth round, 147th overall in the fifth round, and 178th overall in the sixth round. Their second third round pick came from the Adam Henrique trade, while their seventh round pick was traded to Toronto for Jhonas Enroth in 2017. With so much talent to be found throughout this draft, having four picks in the first three rounds was a huge thing for the Ducks. Also, keep in mind that great players come out of the later rounds as well; look no further than Anaheim’s own Josh Manson.
On the second day of the draft, Anaheim selected center Benoit-Olivier Groulx, left winger Blake McLaughlin, goaltender Lukas Dostal, right winger Jack Perbix, goaltender Roman Durny, and defenseman Hunter Drew. So the Ducks added a center, a left winger, a right winger, two goaltenders, and a defenseman today. Between Lundestrom and Groulx, Anaheim significantly increased their center prospect depth, and McLaughlin adds to an already strong left wing group. It wasn’t surprising to see a goalie selected today, but I was surprised that two were taken. The Ducks now have several goalie prospects in their system, which has been their weakest prospect position in recent years. Anaheim’s right wing prospect group is definitely the weakest of the forward ranks, so it was good to see Anaheim add in another right winger. Anaheim finished things off by adding another defenseman to their prospect ranks, adding to an already strong group.
Benoit-Olivier Groulx (2nd Round, 54th Overall)
Groulx has played for the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL for the past two seasons. He’s the son of Benoit Groulx, the coach of Tampa Bay’s AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch. This past season, he played in 68 games and scored 28 goals and 55 points. In the playoffs, he played in nine games and scored two goals and eight points. He’s a power forward with a strong two-way game who is highly skilled, intelligent, and determined when he’s on the ice. Similar to Lundestrom, he just has a very well-round game but doesn’t necessarily stand out in any one particular area. He’s also a very feisty and competitive player who doesn’t give up on the play. While he’s not the best skater, the rest of his skillset more than makes up for it. Don’t expect him to be Anaheim’s future top line pivot, but he could become a dependable third or even second line center someday. Expect him to stay in Halifax for the next two seasons before turning pro and joining the San Diego Gulls.
Blake McLaughlin (3rd Round, 79th Overall)
McLaughlin played for the Chicago Steel of the USHL this past season, appearing in 54 games and scoring 23 goals and 52 points. He followed that up with three goals and seven points in seven playoff games. At 79th overall, he could end up being a huge steal by Anaheim, as most had him going in the second round. McLaughlin is small and skilled but doesn’t shy away from physical contact. He’ll be attending the University of Minnesota this coming season. Given that he’s going the NCAA route, he’s probably at least two, if not three or four years away from turning pro. It’s what Anaheim has done with a number of its college prospects, like Kevin Roy and Andy Welinski. When he does turn pro, he’ll likely spend some time in the AHL before hopefully making his way to Anaheim.
Lukas Dostal (3rd Round, 85th Overall)
Dostal played in several different Czech leagues this past season, including a game in the Czech U18 League,14 games in the Czech U20 League, and 20 games in the Czech2 League. In the Czech2 League, he made his professional debut with Trebic and went 10-10 with a 2.43 goals against average, a .921 save percentage, and two shutouts. He played in the Czech U20 League in the playoffs and had a 1.40 goals against average and a .959 save percentage in seven games. This coming season, he’ll likely be in the Czech2 League, but he could see some time in the top Czech League as well, and should only spend time in the pro ranks, unless he plays for the Czechs at the World Junior Championships. Goaltenders are notoriously hard to predict, but Dostal was the top-rated European goaltender by NHL Central Scouting. He’ll probably spend at least two more seasons playing in the Czech Leagues before coming over to North America and joining the Gulls.
Jackson Perbix (4th Round, 116th Overall)
Perbix played in three different leagues this past season: he played for the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL, Team Northwest of the UMHSEHL, and Elk River High of the USHS-MN. He spent most of his time with Elk River High where he scored 19 goals and 61 points in 25 games. In the playoffs, he scored two goals and seven points in two games. He led Elk River High in assists and points, and was second in goals, while his seven playoff points led the team. With Team Northwest he scored 28 points in 17 games, and he scored four points in 17 games with the Green Bay Gamblers. Perbix is slated to attend the University of Notre Dame this coming season.
Roman Durny (5th Round, 147th Overall)
Durny played in both Slovakia and the USHL last season. His numbers weren’t great in Slovakia, but he shone in the USHL, appearing in 25 games where he went 8-10-2-2 with a 2.38 goals against average and a save percentage of .920. He also played for Slovakia at the World Juniors where he played in four games and went 2-2 with a 2.75 goals against average and a .929 save percentage. He was the ninth-ranked goaltender by NHL Central Scouting. Between Dostal, Durny, and Olle Eriksson Ek, the Ducks have a few very good, young goalies and it will be interesting to watch them develop in the coming years.
Hunter Drew (6th Round, 178th Overall)
Drew has played in the QMJHL for the past couple of seasons and is already 19 years old, so he’s a little older than most players chosen this weekend. He’s played for the Charlottetown Islanders for the past two years, scoring eight goals and 39 points in 64 games this past season. He also added two goals and 11 points in 18 playoff games. He’s more known for his defensive play, but those are pretty good offensive numbers for a defensive defenseman. He’s a right-handed shot, which automatically makes him a little more valuable and likely to make it to the NHL someday. Drew also isn’t afraid to drop the gloves and fight when the occasion calls for it. He has at least one more year of junior hockey ahead of him, but he’ll actually be 20 this October and could turn pro as early as the 2019-2020 season. Depending on how many of San Diego’s defensemen make the leap to the NHL over the course of this coming season, that very well could happen. Alternatively, he could return for an overage junior season before looking to turn pro in the 2020-2021 season.
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Without a seventh-round pick, Drew was Anaheim’s final selection of the 2018 NHL Draft. Overall, this was a solid draft for the Ducks. While no future superstars were taken, the Ducks selected a number of players who could find themselves in San Diego and Anaheim someday. None of these players will be in the NHL for at least a couple of years, but Anaheim really reinforced their forward and goalie prospect ranks. They didn’t add much on the blueline, but that’s been Anaheim’s strength for years and could afford another year of selecting few defensemen. That being said, I think next year we’ll see Anaheim take multiple defensemen in the draft. With the draft over with, the next thing to watch is Free Agency, which starts next weekend. Once the free agency frenzy dies down, you can look forward to another summer of prospect updates. Josh Mahura will be the first one up.
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June 23rd, 2018