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Anaheim’s 2018 Development Camp
By Thomas Harrington
Earlier today, the Anaheim Ducks announced the dates and roster for their 2018 summer development camp. The camp will open on June 28th and run through July 1st, and there will be a scrimmage open to the public on the 1st. If you can, I highly recommend that you attend, as it will give you a firsthand look at Anaheim’s most recent draft picks, as well as players chosen over the previous few drafts.
All seven players that Anaheim selected last weekend will be in attendance: Lukas Dostal, Hunter Drew, Roman Durny, Benoit-Olivier Groulx, Blake McLaughlin, Jackson Perbix, and their first round selection Isac Lundestrom. None of these players are expected to be in the NHL or AHL this coming season, so this will be one of the few times for Anaheim fans to get a look at the newest crop of prospects. Most of them will attend rookie camp and training camp in the fall, before heading off to their respective teams for the rest of the season.
Joining them will be all five players selected in 2017: Maxime Comtois, Antoine Morand, Kyle Olson, Olle Eriksson Ek, and Jack Badini. Comtois and Morand were Anaheim’s two second-round picks from last season and both finished up strong seasons of junior hockey. Comtois, in particular, had a fantastic season, while Morand won the Memorial Cup. Both are signed to entry-level deals but have one more season of junior hockey before they can turn pro. Badini was Anaheim’s third-round pick and completed his first season of NCAA hockey this past year. He has yet to sign a contract and will not until he and Anaheim decide that his college career is over. Olson was Anaheim’s fourth-round pick and is playing in the WHL. He’s currently unsigned and has at least one more season of junior hockey ahead of him. Eriksson Ek put up strong numbers playing in the SuperElit and Allsvenskan leagues last year. He’s signed to an entry-level deal, but I expect him to play at least one more season in Sweden before coming to North America.
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Four of Anaheim’s six picks from 2016 will be in attendance: Sam Steel, Max Jones, Josh Mahura, and Jack Kopacka; Tyler Soy and Alex Dostie will not attend. Soy was not signed to a contract and then passed over in the draft; he is now a free agent. He’s been invited to attend Florida’s development camp. Dostie completed his first season of professional hockey this past year in the AHL and ECHL. Expect him to attend rookie camp in the fall. Steel and Mahura were both on Regina this past season and both had outstanding seasons. Jones suffered through injuries this past season, but he’s hopefully fully recovered. Kopacka had a strong final season of junior hockey this past season. Steel, Jones, Mahura, and Kopacka are all signed to their entry-level deals and should either be in Anaheim or San Diego this coming season.
Five of Anaheim’s seven picks from 2015 will be at development camp: Troy Terry, Brent Gates, Jr., Jacob Larsson, Steven Ruggiero, and Deven Sideroff. Despite being a fifth-round pick, most people are incredibly high on Terry. He made his NHL debut this past season and figures to fight for a roster spot in Anaheim this year. Larsson took some time to adjust to North American hockey, but is still one of Anaheim’s top defensive prospects and should see time with the Ducks as well. Gates and Ruggiero are both in the NCAA and are both unsigned. Gates has one more year of college hockey, and then the Ducks will either have to sign him or he’ll become a free agent. I believe the same is true of Ruggiero, but given that he spent some time in the USHL as well during the 2016-2017 season, I’m not sure if that impacts his NCAA eligibility. Sideroff is another player who just completed his first season of pro hockey with the Gulls and will be fighting for more playing time in the AHL this coming season. Julius Nattinen and Garrett Metcalf are the only two players from this draft not attending.
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No player from the 2014 draft will attend. Since Brandon Montour, Ondrej Kase, Nick Ritchie, and Marcus Pettersson make up most of that class, it’s not surprising. However, Matt Berkovitz is the lone exception to that. He attended the US Military Academy, but did not play in any games for them. He is currently unsigned.
Besides the drafted players, the Ducks will have three free agents in attendance as well: Giovanni Fiore, Angus Redmond, and the recently signed Kiefer Sherwood. Fiore had a fantastic rookie season for the Gulls and will look to build on that. Redmond spent the entire season in the ECHL and didn’t have great numbers. With Utah no longer affiliated with Anaheim, it will be interesting to see where he plays next season. After finishing his college career, Sherwood joined the Gulls to make his professional debut and scored two goals in 11 games. It will be interesting to see what he can do over the course of a full season.
Besides the free agents, there will also be a number of college and junior invitees in attendance: Simon Benoit, Carter Berger, Justin Ducharme, Chris Forney, William Graber, Nate Knoepke, Sasha Larocque, Scott Moldenhauer, Ben Schultheis, and Nolan Walker. None of them are signed to an NHL contract and no NHL team holds any of their rights. They are attending for a number of reasons. First, to fill out the camp roster and increase the quality of competition. Second, to give Anaheim a look at a few more young players and see if they want to consider drafting or signing any of these players in the future. Third, to give these players a taste of what the NHL is like and give them a better idea of what to improve on going forward in their playing careers.
Development camp is the perfect tonic for the hockey-starved fan in July. If you can go, I highly encourage it. It’ll be your first chance to see Anaheim’s newest prospects and see how others are progressing.
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June 26th, 2018