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Ducks Make Second Round of Roster Cuts
By Thomas Harrington
The Anaheim Ducks made their second round of roster cuts, reducing the size of their training camp roster to 54. Goaltender Gage Alexander was assigned to Swift Current of the WHL, forward Nathan Gaucher was assigned to Quebec of the QMJHL, defenseman Tyson Hinds was assigned to Sherbrooke of the QMJHL, forward Sean Tschigerl was assigned to Calgary of the WHL, defenseman Olen Zellweger was assigned to Everett of the WHL, and they released defenseman Charles Cote from his PTO. Of these six players, Zellweger is the only real surprise cut.
Alexander was Anaheim’s second fifth round pick from the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. He did not play in any preseason games but did play in two of the three games at the Rookie Tournament and picked up the win in one of them. He’s heading back to the WHL where he will join his new team, which he was traded to back in July. Alexander will be joining fellow Anaheim pick Connor Hvidston, who was among Anaheim’s first round of roster cuts.
Gaucher was Anaheim’s second first round pick from the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. He’s played in two preseason games so far and recorded an assist. He played in all three games of the Rookie Tournament and scored a goal. I really liked what I saw from Gaucher, but given his age and position, there was no question that he would be in juniors this year. Hopefully he has a great season for Quebec.
Hinds was Anaheim’s second third round pick from 2021 and just recently signed his three year entry-level deal with Anaheim. He played in one preseason game and recorded an assist, while going scoreless in two games at the Rookie Tournament. Despite having just signed his ELC, the Ducks are clearly deep enough on defense that he doesn’t need to be rushed and can spend this upcoming season in juniors.
Tschigerl was Anaheim’s first fifth round pick from 2021. He has appeared in one preseason game and was scoreless, and also appeared in all three Rookie Tournament games where he was also scoreless. Given that he’s not signed to a contract yet, he was another player who was obviously heading back to juniors. The Ducks have until next June to sign him before they lose his rights.
Zellweger was Anaheim’s second round pick from 2021. He’s played in two preseason games and recorded one assist, while also appearing in two games at the Rookie Tournament and scoring a goal and two points. In his two preseason games, Zellweger’s skating has been on display and it’s been as great as advertised. I had him on my list of players who could have made his NHL debut this year. I still expected him to be sent back to juniors, just after a little NHL action. While I would have liked to see him stick around in camp for a little longer, it looks like the plan was always for him to spend the year in the WHL. If he wasn’t going to get into any more preseason games, then sending him back now makes sense. I do think the acquisition of Dmitry Kulikov is ultimately what ended Zellweger’s chance at getting a few games of NHL action this season.
Cote is an undrafted junior defenseman. He was never going to make the roster, but giving him the NHL camp experience will hopefully help his career in the long run. He should be returning to Rimouski of the QMJHL for this season. It will be interesting to see if the Ducks consider drafting him as an overage player next year or if another team does instead.
While it’s surprising and even a little disappointing to see Zellweger already cut, ultimately, I’m okay with this decision. While his skating and offensive instincts are great, he likely needs to get stronger before he’s ready for the NHL, and that will hopefully happen in the WHL this year. It’s a big jump from junior hockey to the NHL; few are able to do it at his age. The rest of these players were always destined for Canadian juniors, and hopefully they can all have great years and come back to training camp next year even better. Some of them, like Zellweger and Tschigerl, will likely be done with their junior careers at that point and looking for a spot in either Anaheim or San Diego.
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September 29th, 2022