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Prediction: With The 10th Overall Pick, The Anaheim Ducks Will Select…
By Thomas Harrington
The Ducks hold two picks in the first round of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft: 10th and 22nd overall. As in previous years, I’ve examined several mock drafts and read over scouting reports from a large variety of different hockey sources in order to predict who I think Anaheim will select in the first round. I am basing my predictions off of what those rankings and reports say, and also by my own instinct of who I think the Ducks would like on their team. I do it this way and not based on my own observations because I don’t get much of a chance to see these kids play. Outside of the World Junior Tournament, I don’t watch a lot of junior hockey and even less international hockey, so I go with what is being said by the people who get to watch these prospects on a daily basis.
The Ducks hold six other picks in the draft: 42nd overall, 53rd overall (acquired from Pittsburgh), 107th overall, 139th overall, 154th overall (acquired from Toronto), and 178th overall (acquired from Nashville).
Before I get to my prediction, a bit of background on the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. The Montreal Canadiens are the host and hold the top pick in the draft, with the New Jersey Devils, Arizona Coyotes, Seattle Kraken, and Philadelphia Flyers rounding out the top five picks. It’s not clear who will go first; Shane Wright was the presumptive favorite entering this season, but Juraj Slafkovsky had a strong season and could go first overall instead. I think Montreal will pick Wright, but won’t be shocked if Slafkovsky is taken instead.
Every year, the NHL Draft can be difficult to predict who will be picked where and what kind of careers these players will have. However, after the top six or seven prospects, this draft is more wide open than most years. Part of this is likely because of the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting more than a year of development for these prospects. But part of it also appears to be that this draft class isn’t particularly deep after the top players, making which prospects teams may like more variable. For example, while reviewing various prospect lists and mock drafts, there were 19 different players who were either at 10th or within a few picks of 10th. At the 22nd pick, there were 32 players that I reviewed. In fact, there were 15 players that appeared within a few spots of both the 10th and 22nd picks on different prospect and draft lists. The good news for Anaheim is that this means the players they like will most likely still be on the board when they make their picks.
This will be Pat Verbeek’s first draft as GM of the Ducks, and it will be interesting to see who he picks. Marin Madden is still with the organization, so I don’t think we’ll see a wildly different strategy from the Ducks this year. Bob Murray was the GM of the Ducks starting in 2009, and since 2010, he had chosen Nick Ritchie, Shea Theodore, Hampus Lindholm, Rickard Rakell, Emerson Etem, Cam Fowler, Jacob Larsson, Max Jones, Sam Steel, Isac Lundestrom, Trevor Zegras, Brayden Tracey, Jamie Drysdale, Jacob Perreault, and Mason McTavish in the first round.
A few of my observations about these picks. When Murray took a defenseman, he was a good skater with a good offensive upside, and I think Verbeek would target similar players in the first round. Murray’s forwards were a little more of a mixed group. Steel and Zegras are playmaking centers, while Rakell is a two-time 30 goal winger who was drafted as a center. Ritchie and Jones are power forwards, while Etem was more known for his speed. Not every pick worked out, but Murray has had more luck with drafting defensemen in the first round, since four of the five have become NHL regulars. Larsson hasn’t developed into the top four defenseman many had hoped for. He has played in over 160 NHL games over the course of his career, but does seem destined to be an AHL defenseman at this point.
At forward, Rakell was a good pick, while Etem and Ritchie ended up not panning out, though Ritchie is still in the NHL. Steel and Jones haven’t developed as much as hoped, but both have become NHL regulars. Lundestrom took a big step forward this past season and hopefully he will continue his ascent this coming year. Zegras had a wonderful rookie season and was a Calder Trophy finalist. It’s too soon to say what kind of player Tracey, Perreault, and McTavish will become, though I’m hopeful they will work out.
Now, on to my prediction, and this assumes that the Ducks don’t make any trades. With the 10th overall pick, there are going to be a lot of good players available. The ones that I have identified as being most likely available who I think Anaheim will be interested in are center Conor Geekie, winger Jonathan Lekkerimaki, defenseman Denton Mateychuk, defenseman Kevin Korchinski, center Marco Kasper, winger Danila Yurov, and defenseman Pavel Mintyukov.
Some of these players will be picked before Anaheim steps up to the podium, but I’m confident that some of them will be available and I think Anaheim would be happy with any of them. None of these players are guaranteed to be NHL stars as all have at least one weakness, but they all possess a ton of talent. Most scouts and mock drafts have these seven players being selected at 10th overall or within a few picks in either direction. However, if a player like Matthew Savoie, Cutter Gauthier, or Joakim Kemell falls to 10, then I think the Ducks will take one of them instead.
Geekie is a big, physical center who put up a ton of points last season. The hope is he could be the next Ryan Getzlaf, but the last time the Ducks held the 10th pick and drafted a large forward they chose Ritchie. Lekkerimaki may be the best pure goal scorer in the draft, the kind of scoring winger that the Ducks could really use next to Zegras or McTavish. His biggest weakness is that he sometimes plays too much on the perimeter. Mateychuk is an excellent skater who can play a ton of minutes. The biggest concern with him is his size; if he were a few inches taller some think he could be a top five pick. Korchinski may be the third best defenseman in the draft and had 61 assists in 67 games last year. His biggest issue is that he doesn’t always compete enough, especially in his own end. Kasper is one of the most competitive players in the draft and had six points in 13 SHL playoff games, excellent numbers for a 17-year old. However, his ceiling might be that of a very good third line center instead of a true top six center. Based on talent alone, Yurov is a top 10 pick. However, the Russian-Ukraine conflict has made some teams wary of taking Russian players right now, especially with higher picks. Mintyukov has great offensive instincts and led his team in scoring as a defenseman last season. Similar to other young defensemen, he does need some work in his own zone.
With the 10th overall pick, I predict the Anaheim Ducks will select right winger Jonathan Lekkerimaki. It’s hard to find elite goal scorers, and Lekkerimaki could end up being the best goal scorer from this draft. The Ducks have a number of offensive wingers in their system, but none have quite the ability to score a goal the way Lekkerimaki can. He’s currently expected to play in Sweden next year, and if he plays well enough, could push for a roster spot in Anaheim in the 2023-2024 season.
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July 1st, 2022