Anaheim Announces Rookie Tournament

Photo: San Diego Gulls website

By Thomas Harrington

The Anaheim Ducks announced that they would be participating in a rookie tournament this September in Las Vegas. Anaheim’s rookies will play a total three games, facing off against rookies from the Los Angeles Kings, the Colorado Avalanche, and the Arizona Coyotes. The other teams involved in this tournament are the Golden Knights and San Jose Sharks.

One thing that was not included with this announcement were the final rosters, so I thought that it would be fun to put together a potential roster for which rookies Anaheim might use for this tournament. Some of these players will likely be easy choices, while others could surprise. I’ll primarily choose players who participated in the Development Camp that took place at the end of June and beginning of July.

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From the 2015 draft, I believe that Troy Terry will play in the tournament. After making his NHL debut this past season, this is the kind of tournament that he should come into and dominate. Jacob Larsson, Julius Nattinen, and Deven Sideroff may participate in this tournament, but given that all played pro hockey this past season, the Ducks may choose to not bring them and play players with less professional experience. I do not believe that Brent Gates, Jr. or Steven Ruggiero will be at this tournament. It’s pretty rare for college players to attend rookie camp in the fall, as they’ve already started their new school year. Right now, I’m assuming that every player who plays for Anaheim will participate in this fall’s rookie camp, so it’s a safe bet that Gates and Ruggiero will not be playing.

From the 2016 draft, I believe that Sam Steel, Max Jones, Josh Mahura, and Jack Kopacka will participate in this tournament. All four were at the recent Development Camp and all four will turn pro this season. I believe that both Steel and Jones will make their NHL debuts this season, while Mahura and Kopacka will debut sometime after this year. Given that all four are turning pro at the same time, I’d love to see them play together and start building chemistry and camaraderie between the four of them. Anaheim’s other picks from 2016 were Tyler Soy and Alex Dostie. Soy was an overage pick who was not signed and Anaheim no longer holds his rights. Similar to Sideroff, Nattinen and Larsson, Dostie just completed his first professional season, and Anaheim may elect to not bring him along for this tournament. Then again, based on last year’s rookie camp, being in the AHL the season before does not automatically preclude Anaheim from including a player.

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From the 2017 draft, I believe that Maxime Comtois, Antoine Morand, and Kyle Olson will play in this tournament. All three are currently in juniors and will return to their respective junior teams for the upcoming season. I’m not expecting Jack Badini to participate in this tournament. Badini is another NCAA player. Eriksson Ek is a tough call as to whether or not he’ll be at the tournament. He’ll be in Europe again and was at last year’s rookie camp, but European players often go directly to Europe for the start of their seasons. It will be interesting to see what the Ducks choose to do with him.

From the 2018 draft, I believe that Benoit-Olivier Groulx and Hunter Drew are locks for the tournament. Both are junior players playing in the QMJHL. For the rest, it’s a little murkier. Blake McLaughlin and Jackson Perbix will both be in the NCAA next year, and will not be playing. Isac Lundestrom and Lukas Dostal are both European players, so it’s going to partially depend on their teams’ schedules and camps. Roman Durny played in the USHL last season and could be in the NCAA this upcoming season.

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Finally, I believe that recently signed Kiefer Sherwood will also participate in this tournament. He made his pro debut with the Gulls at the end of the season. Other potential options include Giovanni Fiore, Mitch Hults, and Angus Redmond. All three signed with Anaheim over a year ago. Fiore and Hults spent the year with the Gulls, while Redmond spent the year in the ECHL.

So, based upon the above, I have 11 players who I believe are guaranteed a spot at this years’ rookie tournament, with another seven players who were in San Diego last year and could play as well. There are three European players who could also play, but it’s a little harder to say whether or not they will. All told that equals 21 players, which is just enough to fill out a roster. However, Anaheim will assuredly bring more than that, possibly choosing older prospects with some NHL experience like Kevin Roy, Kalle Kossila, or Andy Welinski, or maybe even the recently acquired Chase de Leo. I also believe that Ducks will bring some of the players that they invited to Development Camp. The Ducks could decide to not have some of their more NHL-ready prospects play a lot, in order to not risk injury. A couple years ago, Nicolas Kerdiles looked poised to make it to the NHL but suffered a bad injury in a rookie game, and the Ducks may be averse to risking their higher level prospects and play them less in this tournament.

Regardless of who plays, this should be a fun tournament for Anaheim’s rookies and give fans a look at the Ducks’ future. Hopefully, the games will be streamed, but they should at least be broadcast on the radio.

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July 30th, 2018


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