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Prediction: With The 29th Overall Pick, The Anaheim Ducks Will Select…
By Thomas Harrington
After drafting Kirby Dach 9th overall, Anaheim will step back up to the podium with the 29th pick. They acquired it from Buffalo, along with Brendan Guhle, when they traded Brandon Montour to the Sabres. The pick originally belonged to the San Jose Sharks. The Ducks have a number of options with the 29th pick. First, they can package it with something else to try and move up in the draft. It’s usually easier to trade up in the first round if the other team can still keep a first round pick. Having two first-round picks gives the Ducks a lot of flexibility in this regard. Second, if the Ducks think there will be enough quality prospects a little later in the draft, they could trade down and try and pick up another second rounder or two this year. Finally, the Ducks could choose to keep the pick and make their second selection of the first round. For this, I’ll be assuming that they keep the pick.
Just as I did for the 9th pick, I have examined several mock drafts and read over scouting reports of players likely to be available when the Ducks pick again. Unsurprisingly, the 29th pick of the draft is much harder to predict than the 9th. By the time we get to the end of the first round, there will inevitably be some players available who some people thought were locks to go in the first round. There are also a large number of players who could be considered good enough to go at the end of the first round or beginning of the second. All of which means I’m about to take a shot in the dark here.
Players who I think that Anaheim will be interested in at 29 include winger Nicholas Robertson, winger Samuel Poulin, defenseman Ville Heinola, defenseman Lassi Thomson, winger Brett Leason, winger Jakob Pelletier, winger Nils Hoglander, and center Connor McMichael. There are several other prospects that Anaheim could be interested in and will likely be available, but I think these are the ones that Anaheim will probably have their eye on. Some of these players will likely be gone when Anaheim makes their selection, possibly even all of them, but I think it’s a safe bet that some of them will still be available when the Ducks make their pick.
Robertson is one of the younger players in this draft. Despite his age, he’s still expected to be selected towards the end of the first round. He’s a high energy player who plays well in all three zones. Poulin is a very versatile prospect and was the best player on a mediocre team last season. He had a solid playoff run, scoring 14 points in 10 games. Heinola has a very complete game, but not a huge offensive ceiling. He’s an excellent skater and seems to fit the mold of defensemen that Anaheim likes to pick. Thomson has a hard, heavy shot from the blueline and can run a powerplay. He’s a good skater and plays a physical game. Leason is an overage player, having been passed over in previous drafts, but he had a great season, including 25 points in 22 playoff games. Normally, I don’t think overage players are great choices in the first round, but given that Anaheim has two first round picks, he could be a good choice for them. Pelletier is a very creative playmaker who rarely panics with the puck. He’s not a great skater and is a bit of a high risk, high reward pick. Similar to Leason, he could be a good choice for a team with two first round picks. Hoglander reminds me a lot of Isac Lundestrom. He played in the SHL last season and already has over 90 games of professional hockey experience under his belt. McMichael is a very smart, competitive player who is good in the faceoff circle. He projects as a future second or third line center.
With the 29th overall pick, the Anaheim Ducks will select Ville Heinola. After taking a center with their earlier pick, I think the Ducks will be looking to add to their defensive prospect depth with their next pick. Heinola won’t be a top pairing defenseman, but he’ll add a lot of talent to Anaheim’s prospect blueline. He’s not going to have gaudy point totals from the backend, but he’s got a very complete game and plays very well in all three zones. He’s not an overly physical player, but he’s a very smart player on the ice.
After making these two picks, the Ducks will have five more picks to make on the second day of the draft. While not every pick will work, Bob Murray, Martin Madden, and Anaheim’s scouting staff have shown that they know what they are doing and I trust in the choices that they will make during draft weekend.
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June 20th, 2018