Anaheim First Round Review

Screenshot: NBCSN

By Thomas Harrington

As expected, Jack Hughes went first overall, followed by Kaapo Kakko. The draft really began at third, when Chicago picked Kirby Dach. Detroit surprised everybody by picking Moritz Seider with the sixth overall pick. The US National Development Team set a record that may never be broken, as seven players from that team were selected in the top 15.

The Anaheim Ducks started the draft with two first round picks, ninth overall and 29th overall. With those two picks, they selected center Trevor Zegras ninth overall and Brayden Tracey 29th overall. I had thought that Zegras would go in the first five or six picks, so I was thrilled to see him fall to Anaheim when they stepped up to the podium. Zegras was a member of the US National Development team and was a teammate of Hughes. Hughes was the team’s number one center, and Zegras was their second line center. He’s an elite passer, and along with Sam Steel, this gives the Ducks two great playmaking centers to build around. He’s scheduled to attend Boston University next season, and I expect him to play there for at least one season. Tracey was one of the biggest risers in terms of draft position over the course of the season. He’s a left winger who can score.

Zegras is a slick passer, recording 61 assists in 60 games last season, to go along with 26 goals. His 61 assists were second only to Hughes on the team. Overall, he had 100 career assists in 116 games in the US development program. The only players to record more assists in that program than him are Hughes, Jeremy Bracco, and Clayton Keller. He’s got an amazing vision on the ice and is able to find his teammates in tight situations. He’s also got a great imagination on the ice. He very well could be the most creative forward picked in the draft. On top of that, Zegras is also a strong two-way player and is a very good skater. The Ducks have been looking for their future first line center to take over from Ryan Getzlaf, and it looks like they may have just found it.

The Ducks prefer to let players develop for a while before making their way to the NHL. Cam Fowler was the last Anaheim pick to play a full season following his draft year, though Isac Lundestrom did get 15 games in the NHL this past season. With that in mind, I think that the Ducks will let Zegras play in Boston for one year. Remember, the moment an NCAA player signs a contract, they are ineligible to play college hockey and have to turn pro, unlike players in Canadian juniors who can stay with their junior team even after signing a pro deal. If the Ducks want him in San Diego in order to keep a closer eye on him, they could try to sign him this summer. However, I think he plays a season at BU, and then the Ducks sign him a year from now. Depending on how he develops at BU, he could get a bit of time in San Diego first, or be in Anaheim to start the 2020-2021 season.

Tracey plays for the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL. In 66 games, he scored 36 goals and 81 points. It was Tracey’s rookie season in the WHL, and he was named the WHL rookie of the year. Tracey’s 81 points were 19 more than the next highest rookie in the WHL. He’s a smart, high-energy player who can score goals, the kind of player that Anaheim could really use. He does need to work on his consistency, but if he pans out for Anaheim, the Ducks could have a future sniper on their hands.

With Max Jones and Maxime Comtois, the Ducks have two young left wingers ready to break into the NHL. With those two in Anaheim, the Ducks can afford to let Tracey develop slowly in Moose Jaw. Similar to Steel and Jones, I expect him to spend the next two years in juniors, before turning pro in the 2021-2022 season, which will probably be spent in San Diego. He may get some games with the Ducks that year, but I don’t think he’ll be a full-time player in Anaheim until the 2022-2023 season.

I thought the Ducks would pick a center and a defenseman in the first round. Well, I was right about the center as they hit a potential home run with Zegras. I was wrong on the defenseman; instead, they took a left winger, adding another scorer to Anaheim’s future lineup. I trust Anaheim’s scouting staff and I’m excited to see both Zegras and Tracey develop in the coming years and making their way to Anaheim. The Ducks have five more picks left in the draft: 39th overall, 101st overall, 132nd overall, 163rd overall, and 186th overall. The Ducks will likely take a couple of defensemen with some of those picks. The first round is over and the Ducks have made themselves a more offensively dangerous team in the future.

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June 21st, 2018


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