Reviewing Anaheim’s 2010 Draft Class

Photo: The Orange County Register

By Thomas Harrington

The 2010 NHL Entry Draft was Bob Murray’s second as the GM of the Anaheim Ducks, but the first where he was in charge of the team and scouting staff for the entire season. While this wasn’t Anaheim’s best draft, I do think it went better than the 2009 Draft.

The 2010 Draft was led by Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin who went first and second overall. The Taylor versus Tyler debate had raged throughout the season but most expected Hall to go first, and that’s exactly what happened. Overall, the Ducks had three picks in the first two rounds, and five picks in the final three rounds. Anaheim had no picks in the third or fourth rounds.

The Ducks selected Cam Fowler 12th overall, Emerson Etem 29th overall, Devante Smith-Pelly 42nd overall, Chris Wagner 122nd overall, Tim Heed 132nd overall, Andreas Dahlstrom 161st overall, Kevin Lind 167th overall, and Brett Perlini 192nd overall.

Cam Fowler

After being drafted, Fowler went immediately to the NHL as an 18-year-old and has been there ever since. He recorded 40 points in his rookie season and represented Anaheim at the 2017 All-Star Game. Fowler has never become the number one defenseman that many hoped he would be when he was drafted, but he has become a reliable top-four defender who can play and succeed in any situation. He’s often among the team leaders in ice time and scoring leaders from the blueline.

At the draft, Fowler was one of the big fallers in 2010. Pretty much every draft board had him in the top 10, many had him in the top five, and a number of them listed him as the third-best prospect behind Hall and Seguin. When he fell to Anaheim at 12th overall, the Ducks felt incredibly lucky and were more than happy to choose the smooth-skating defenseman. In fact, the Ducks had ranked Fowler as the third-best prospect heading into the draft, behind Hall and Seguin.

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However, there were a few other first-round picks that Anaheim could have chosen who would end up as good or even better than Fowler. Most notably, the St. Louis Blues selected Vladimir Tarasenko 16th overall. Fowler is a very good defenseman, but Tarasenko is one of the premier scorers in the NHL today. Still, a number of players much worse than Fowler were taken immediately ahead of him, most notably Dylan McIlrath who went 10th overall.

So while the Ducks could have picked someone better, I do think they made a very good selection with Fowler given where Anaheim had him ranked and how important he’s been to the team over the last decade. Also, he leads all defensemen from this draft with 301 points.

Emerson Etem

Etem was expected by many to be a late first-round pick. When the Long Beach native was available at 29th overall, Anaheim fans who attended the draft in Los Angeles hoped the Ducks would draft the SoCal player, and loud cheers erupted from the audience when he was picked. After he was drafted, Etem spent two years in the WHL, scoring 187 points in 130 games. He became a fulltime pro in the 2012-2013 season, splitting time between the NHL and AHL. He scored 54 points in 50 AHL games while getting 11 points in 29 NHL games. It looked like he was ready to take the NHL by storm after three seasons that saw him get better each year.

Unfortunately, he continued to split time between the NHL and AHL over the next two seasons, recording seasons of 11 and 10 points in the NHL, while playing 29 and 45 games. The 2014-2015 season was particularly disappointing. While he hadn’t improved much in the NHL the season before, he took a noticeable step back this season. After that year, the Ducks traded him to the Rangers, bringing Carl Hagelin to Anaheim. He played in 19 games for New York before being traded to Vancouver. Anaheim brought him back for three games in the 2016-2017 season, the final NHL games of his career. He played in nine games for the Ontario Reign in the 2018-2019 season, his last AHL action.

Similar to Peter Holland, Etem looked like a good choice coming out of the draft, and a great one a couple years later. Combined with Etem’s ties to SoCal, he was one of the most exciting prospects that Anaheim has ever had, but ultimately, he just didn’t work out. Etem was the second to last pick of the first round, but the final player chosen Brock Nelson, would have been a better selection. Justin Faulk was an early second-round pick who also would have been a better selection than Etem.

However, given the excitement of the Ducks picking a SoCal player while the draft was being held in Los Angeles and the expectation that he would be a late first-round pick, I completely understand why this pick was made and give Anaheim a little bit of leeway on this selection as a result.

Devante Smith-Pelly

After being drafted, Smith-Pelly spent a year in juniors before turning pro in the 2011-2012 season. While he wasn’t expected to be a big-time scorer, the hope was he would be able to eventually chip in with 15 to 20 goals a season while providing a physical presence on the ice. Unfortunately, he was selected to play at the World Juniors and the Ducks let him play there, but he was injured in the first game of the tournament and missed a decent amount of time in the NHL as a result. Overall, he played in 49 games that first season and scored 13 points.

Over the next two seasons, he split time between the NHL and AHL, but played significantly more games in the AHL than the NHL. In the 2014-2015 season, he was back in the NHL on a full-time basis. In 54 games with the Ducks that season he recorded 17 points. The Ducks ended up trading him to Montreal for Jiri Sekac, as they believed that Smith-Pelly wasn’t going to blossom into the winger they had hoped for when they drafted him. 

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Smith-Pelly bounced around the league over the next couple of seasons, going from Montreal to New Jersey and finally Washington. In the 2017-2018 season with the Capitals, he was part of the Stanley Cup winning team and scored seven goals in 24 playoff games. Smith-Pelly’s offense hadn’t come through over the course of most of his career, but it finally did for him that spring. However, the following season he was back splitting time between the NHL and AHL, and played in the KHL this past season before everything was put on pause.

The second round of the 2010 NHL Draft wasn’t particularly deep. Smith-Pelly has recorded 101 points in his career, good for sixth all time among those 30 skaters, so Anaheim picking him at 42nd overall wasn’t a terrible choice. However, Los Angeles drafted Tyler Toffoli 47th overall, and he leads this round with 300 career points. Jason Zucker was another player who has had a better career than Smith-Pelly, and he went 59th overall.

Chris Wagner

With no picks in the third or fourth round, Anaheim finally stepped back up to the podium 80 picks later and selected Wagner 122nd overall. After being drafted, Wagner spent two seasons in the NCAA before turning pro in the 2012-2013 season. He made his NHL debut in the 2014-2015 season, getting nine games with the Ducks.

Over the next several years he split time between the NHL and AHL, and even played 26 games in Colorado when they claimed him off waivers, but Anaheim was able to claim him back. He became a full-time NHL player in the 2017-2018 season. Unfortunately, Anaheim traded him to the New York Islanders at the deadline in one of the most unpopular moves that Murray has made over the last several seasons. He’s spent the last two seasons playing for Boston in a bottom-six role.

Wagner was never going to be a star player, but he’s carved out a niche for himself on the fourth line of four different NHL clubs. For a fifth-round pick, that’s pretty good, and Anaheim did well in getting good value at this point in the draft. However, the fifth round of the 2010 NHL Draft did have a couple of great players chosen who would have been better for Anaheim to select. Most notably, All-Star defenseman John Klinberg was chosen 131st overall. Also, Zach Hyman was chosen with the next pick, and he has over 150 points in his NHL career.

Tim Heed

With their second fifth-round pick, Anaheim selected Heed 132nd overall. After being drafted, Heed spent several seasons playing in Europe and never played for the Ducks or anywhere in their organization. He eventually did come to North America, joining the San Jose Sharks in the 2016-2017 season. He spent a couple of seasons splitting time between the NHL and AHL, before only playing in the NHL over the last couple of seasons. He’s been San Jose’s seventh defenseman and has filled that role quite well.

Similar to Wagner, Heed has ended up being a good value pick. Even though it took him a long time to come to North America and he never played for the Ducks, Anaheim did find NHL talent late in the draft. However, also similar to Wagner, better NHL players came after this selection. Michael Ferland was chosen with the next pick, and he’s scored over 100 points in his career and is fourth in scoring among 2010 fifth-round picks. Also, Brendan Gallagher was chosen 147th overall and leads all 2010 fifth-round picks with over 300 points.

Andreas Dahlstrom and Kevin Lind

Neither of Anaheim’s sixth-round picks made it to the NHL. Dahlstrom played hockey in Sweden through the 2018-2019 season. Lind played in the NCAA for four years after being drafted and then turned pro for the 2014-2015 season. He played in a few AHL games but spent most of the year in the ECHL. That was his last year playing hockey. 

Most sixth-round picks don’t amount to much. A few will become third or fourth line grinders, but most don’t. Only six players from the 2010 sixth-round have appeared in any NHL games, so Anaheim missing on both picks isn’t terribly surprising. Unfortunately, the Ducks, and the rest of the league, had a big miss in this round. With the 178th pick, one spot after the Ducks chose Lind, the Ottawa Senators picked Mark Stone. Stone has become one of the preeminent wingers in the game and is currently one of the best players in Vegas. This is one that definitely stings for the Ducks, as well as every other team in the league.

Brett Perlini

After being drafted, Perlini spent two years in the NCAA before turning pro. Over the next several seasons, he played in two AHL games and spent the rest of his time in the ECHL. He’s been playing in the EIHL for the last three seasons.

Only four players from the seventh round of the 2010 Draft made it to the NHL, and three of them played a combined eight games, so the Ducks missing on Perlini wasn’t a huge loss. However, Zach Trotman, the very last player chosen in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, did play in 91 NHL games, far and away the best value from this round. However, he only recorded 13 points in those 91 games, so he hasn’t become a star player. So while the Ducks did miss by choosing Perlini instead, Trotman hasn’t exactly lit the hockey world on fire.

Final Thoughts

After a lackluster 2009 NHL Draft, the Ducks did much better in the 2010 Draft. While better players than Fowler were picked after him, given what he’s meant to Anaheim’s defense over the last decade, I’d call Fowler an excellent pick by the Ducks. Etem ended up not being the player they hoped for, but he does have over 170 NHL games in his career, so he wasn’t a complete bust. But missing out on Nelson or Faulk makes the Etem pick look that much worse.

Despite not having a great NHL career, Smith-Pelly has played in nearly 400 NHL games. The Ducks missed out on a couple of good players but still chose a solid NHLer when compared to most of the rest of the round. For a fifth-round pick, Wagner was an excellent choice and Heed was a decent one. Anaheim’s last three picks didn’t amount to anything, but given where they were selected, that’s not a huge surprise. Even if the Ducks did miss out on a couple of All-Stars late in the draft, so did most of the rest of the league.

Final Grade

Overall, I’d give the Ducks a B- for the 2010 Draft. They got a good to great defenseman who has been a cornerstone of their defense for a decade, two players who became NHL regulars for several seasons, a seventh defenseman, and even though Etem ultimately didn’t work out, it was great seeing Anaheim draft a SoCal kid in the first round. One more note about Etem, Wagner, and Smith-Pelly: while none of them have become elite scorers, all three ranked in the top 50 for scoring from the 2010 Draft, so it’s safe to say that 2010 wasn’t a particularly deep year. Given the talent available, I do think that Anaheim did a decent but not great job.

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April 20th, 2020


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