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Reviewing Anaheim’s 2012 Draft Class
By Thomas Harrington
The 2012 NHL Entry Draft saw the Ducks selecting sixth overall, their highest pick since they selected Bobby Ryan second overall in 2005. It was the 10th time in Anaheim’s history that they had a pick in the top 10. Meanwhile, the Edmonton Oilers picked first overall again, and they chose Nail Yakupov. Safe to say that pick didn’t work out for them. In an odd twist, the top 10 of this draft has yet to produce an All-Star.
The Ducks picked Hampus Lindholm sixth overall, Nicolas Kerdiles 36th overall, Frederik Andersen 87th overall, Kevin Roy 97th overall, Andrew O’Brien 108th overall, Brian Cooper 127th overall, Kenton Helgesen 187th overall, and Jaycob Megna 210th overall. The Ducks had two picks in the fourth round, two picks in the seventh round, and no picks in the sixth round.
Before being drafted, Lindholm was playing in Europe, where I expected him to play for a season or two before coming to North America. Instead, he came to North America immediately and played in the AHL the season after he was drafted. Unfortunately, he had a major injury that year; as a result, he played in only 44 games and scored 11 points.
While Lindholm’s first season in North America wasn’t spectacular, the following season he made Anaheim’s roster out of training camp and hasn’t left it since. He put up 30 points in his rookie season while playing in 78 games. Since then, he’s become one of the Ducks’ top defensemen, often being first or second on the team in ice time while excelling in every situation.
Lindholm was an excellent pick, and I’m very happy with Anaheim selecting him. That being said, there were a few other players chosen in the first round of 2012 who I also would have been quite happy with. Most notably, Washington selected Filip Forsberg 11th overall. He was eventually traded to Nashville where he has excelled, scoring over 60 points multiple times.
It comes down to what’s more important: a consistent 60 point player or a consistent shutdown defenseman who can score 30+ points? Personally, I think the Ducks made the right call by taking Lindholm, but the argument can be made that they would have been better off by taking a young forward with 60 point upside.
Similar to Emerson Etem, Kerdiles grew up in Southern California, and it was exciting to see Anaheim take another SoCal kid. After being drafted, Kerdiles spent a couple of years in the NCAA before turning pro. He scored 53 points in 96 AHL games through his first two pro seasons.
Unfortunately, Kerdiles suffered multiple injuries throughout his career. He could just never stay healthy after being drafted, only playing in more than 50 games once in the AHL. He played three AHL games in the 2018-2019 season before retiring because of injuries.
If not for injuries, I do think that Kerdiles would have been a solid draft pick. Instead, he played in three regular-season games with the Ducks and four playoff games. However, the second round of the 2012 Draft wasn’t exactly a great round. Chris Tierney leads all skaters with 189 points in 436 games, and only 14 players suited up for an NHL game. Tierney was picked 55th overall, nearly 20 places after Kerdiles was selected.
Given how their careers went, Tierney would have been the better option, but I do think Kerdiles would have had a comparable NHL career if he could have stayed healthy. Unfortunately, that’s something we’ll never know for sure and Kerdiles will go down as a missed pick by the Ducks.
Andersen had actually been drafted in 2010 by Carolina. Andersen didn’t sign with them and he went back in the draft where the Ducks picked him up. After being drafted, he came to North America and played in the AHL. After a season in Norfolk, Andersen established himself in the NHL the following season and split time with John Gibson for a couple of years before eventually being traded to Toronto. With the Maple Leafs, he’s established himself as a starting goaltender, something that could have happened in Anaheim if the Ducks had decided to trade Gibson instead.
Given how late Andersen was picked in the third round, it’s safe to say that he was the best player chosen. Even going 10 picks into the fourth round doesn’t show a player who was better than Andersen. Anaheim getting a starting goaltender late in the third round was an excellent pick by them.
The Ducks had two picks in the fourth round. After being drafted, Roy spent four years in the NCAA before returning pro. His first full pro season came in 2016-2017 when he scored 46 points in 67 AHL games. The following year, he appeared in 25 games for the Ducks and scored six goals and seven points. In the AHL, he scored 37 points in 45 games.
The next year, the hope was that Roy was going to make the NHL on a full-time basis. Unfortunately, Roy was injured in training camp and missed most of the season as a result. Between the AHL and NHL, Roy played a total of 14 games. He was a free agent last summer and opted to sign elsewhere. He had spent the entire year in the AHL before the season was put on hold.
After being drafted, O’Brien spent a year in the QMJHL before turning pro. He played in four AHL games and 24 ECHL games in the 2013-2014 season. After a rough first pro season, O’Brien’s game improved and he only played one ECHL game for the rest of his career. He spent the rest of his time in the AHL. The Ducks got several years of him helping out their AHL affiliate before they traded him away. He played in the AHL until the 2018-2019 season and played in Norway this past season.
Roy was very good in the AHL and it looked like he could be a useful NHL player. However, a combination of injuries and younger prospects coming up made him expendable to Anaheim. O’Brien was a depth defenseman who was useful in the AHL. Neither one amounted to much at the NHL level. There were a number of players who had solid careers taken after both of these players who were fourth-round selections in 2012.
With the 110th selection, two picks after Anaheim chose O’Brien, Detroit selected Andreas Athanasiou, and he leads this round with 156 points in 303 career games. However, an even better selection was made by Carolina when they took All-Star Jaccob Slavin 120th overall. Only six skaters from this round have played more than 100 games, so most teams missed out, but if the Ducks had taken Athanasiou and Slavin instead of Roy and O’Brien, this would have been one of the best drafts for the Ducks.
After being drafted, Cooper spent four years in the NCAA before turning pro. He played for San Diego for a couple of years in the AHL, playing a career-high 40 games in the 2017-2018 season. He was never able to fully establish himself in San Diego’s top six, and Anaheim traded him after that season. He played part of the following year in the AHL before heading overseas to play in Sweden, where he was playing when the season was put on hold.
The fifth round of the 2012 Draft has only a few impact NHL players, but there were a couple. Most notably, Winnipeg chose goalie Connor Hellebuyck 130th overall, and he was far and away the best pick of this round. Another player who has had a solid NHL career was Alexander Kerfoot, who New Jersey took 150th overall. Both would have been much better choices than Cooper. Still, only five skaters from this round of the draft have played in over 100 games and only 10 players selected in this round have played in any NHL games.
Anaheim had no picks in the sixth round but stepped up to take two players in the seventh round. After being drafted, Helgesen played three years in the WHL and turned pro in the 2015-2016 season. For the next three seasons, he played in the ECHL, then played in the RHL in the 2018-2019 season. He split time between the SPHL and ECHL this past year before the season was put on hold.
Nine players from the seventh round of 2012 made it to the NHL, and the best will probably end up being Nikita Gusev, who just completed his rookie season in New Jersey as a 27-year-old. He certainly would have been a better choice than Helgesen, but he took a long time to get here. The only two players from this round with over 100 NHL games are Joakim Ryan and current Duck Christian Djoos.
With the second to last pick in the draft, Anaheim drafted Megna. After being drafted, he spent a couple of years in the NCAA before turning pro. He spent a couple years in the AHL before making his NHL debut in the 2016-2017 season, playing in one game for the Ducks. He played in a career-high 28 NHL games in the 2018-2019 season. He was a free agent last summer and spent the past season in the AHL.
His 43 games and five career points both rank fourth among players drafted in the seventh round of the 2012 draft. Given that he was the second to last player chosen, I’d say that the Ducks made the right call in choosing Megna. Megna hasn’t become a great player, but he’s a dependable defenseman in the AHL and provides good defensive depth to an organization. For such a late pick, that’s very good value.
While not as strong as the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, the Ducks did pretty well in 2012. They picked a top-four defenseman, a starting goaltender, and picked three players who provided a lot of help at the AHL level and gave Anaheim excellent depth at multiple positions. Also, if not for injuries, I do think that Kerdiles would have had a much better career.
Overall, I’d give this draft a B for the Ducks. They missed out on some good players, but with at least three of their picks (Lindholm, Andersen, and Megna), I think that they absolutely made the right call. That being said, while I always liked Roy as a prospect, they missed out on two great players in the fourth round with their two picks. If they had chosen Slavin and Athanasiou instead that round, this draft would have likely been comparable to what the Ducks did in 2011. Instead, this will go down as a good, solid draft for the Ducks, but not a great one.
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April 26th, 2020