Prediction: With The 3rd Overall Pick, The Anaheim Ducks Will Select…

By Thomas Harrington

The Anaheim Ducks hold two picks in the first round of the 2024 NHL Entry Draft, starting with the third overall selection.

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 college and international hockey, so I go with what is being said by the people who get to watch these prospects on a consistent basis.

The Ducks hold seven other picks in the draft: 35th overall, 58th overall (acquired from Boston), 66th overall (acquired from San Jose), 68th overall, 79th overall (acquired from Pittsburgh), 100th overall, and 164th overall. The Ducks traded their fifth round pick (132nd overall) to Colorado and their seventh round pick (196th overall) to Edmonton.

Before I get to my prediction, a bit of background on the 2024 NHL Entry Draft. The San Jose Sharks hold the top pick in the draft and they will take Macklin Celebrini with that pick. The draft really begins with the second pick, which the Chicago Blackhawks have. The Columbus Blue Jackets and Montreal Canadiens round out the top five with the fourth and fifth overall picks.

Every year, it is difficult to predict which player will be picked at each spot, as well as what kind of careers these players will have. This year, according to the experts, the order of players taken is even more difficult to determine than usual. As a result of this, the number of players who the Ducks could take at 3rd overall is quite large. It feels like the Blackhawks are most likely deciding between defenseman Artyom Levshunov and forward Ivan Demidov, but they could also choose any of Carter Yakemchuk, Anton Silayev, or Zeev Buium. When Chicago makes their pick, the Ducks will miss out on a very good prospect, but will still have several other good prospects to choose from.

This looks to be a defensive-oriented draft, with as many as six or seven of the top 10 picks possibly being defensemen. Anaheim has one of the better groups of young defensemen in the league. However, as of right now, it’s not clear if any of them will become a true number one defenseman. If the Ducks think one of the players in this draft will be the next Victor Hedman or Erik Karlsson, that’s probably who they will take. However, despite a focus on defense, there are still some very good forwards who will be available that Anaheim will have to think about.

This will be Pat Verbeek’s third draft as GM of the Ducks. With two drafts behind him, there’s definitely a theme and pattern that’s starting to emerge. In 2022, it was clear that Verbeek wanted size to go along with skill, and every player he chose was 6’2” or taller. That trend continued in 2023, as the Ducks made nine picks, all of them were 6’ or taller, and six of them were 6’2” or taller. The tallest was goaltender Damian Clara who is 6’6”. It remains to be seen if Verbeek will continue to target size, but I think if there are two players with similar skill sets, the Ducks will probably take the taller of the two.

So far, in the first round, Verbeek has chosen defenseman Pavel Mintyukov, forward Nathan Gaucher, and forward Leo Carlsson. Mintyukov and Carlsson both just completed their rookie seasons in the NHL and have star potential. Gaucher just finished his rookie AHL season and will be looking to improve on it this coming year. So far, the only other Verbeek pick to play in an NHL game is Tristan Luneau, a second round choice from 2022. He played in seven games for the Ducks this past season.

With the 3rd overall pick, there are going to be a lot of good players available. The following players will most likely be available, and I think Anaheim will be interested in them: defenseman Artyom Levshunov, defenseman Carter Yakemchuk, defenseman Anton Silayev, defenseman Zeev Buium, forward Ivan Demidov, forward Beckett Sennecke, forward Cayden Lindstrom, and defenseman Zayne Parekh. Almost assuredly one of these eight players will be gone when Anaheim steps up to the podium, but there will still be seven great prospects for Anaheim to choose from. 

Levshunov was the third youngest player in college hockey last year and still recorded 35 points in 38 games as a defenseman. He has a solid two-way game and his size at 6’2” is in line with what Verbeek likes to draft. Yakemchuk is a scoring machine from the blueline, recording 30 goals in 66 WHL games last season. He’s another right-handed shot with good size. Silayev was one of the few prospects to play professional hockey last year, suiting up for 63 KHL games. He’s been described as a bit of a unicorn; he’s 6’7” but is an incredible skater. Buium was another standout college freshman defenseman, recording 50 points in 42 games. He’s one of the smartest players in the draft and will be running a team’s top power play someday. Demidov is one of the most skilled forwards in the draft and scored 60 points in 30 MHL games last season. He’s dominated Russian junior hockey over the past two seasons. Sennecke got better as the season went on and was one of the top players in the OHL playoffs, scoring 22 points in 16 games. He’s one of the more creative players in the draft. Lindstrom missed most of the second half of the season with an injury but still recorded 46 points in 32 WHL games. He’s a goal scorer with size and skill. Parekh is another high-scoring defenseman, racking up 96 points in 66 OHL games last year. He’s another defenseman who will be running an NHL power play in the not-too-distant future.

With the third overall pick, I predict the Anaheim Ducks will select defenseman Carter Yakemchuk.

I think the Blackhawks will take Levshunov second overall, but if they don’t, then I could see Anaheim taking him instead. Yakemchuk has an odd skating stride, but his offensive and defensive abilities combined are among the best of this draft class. Combine that with his size and being a right-handed shot and he could be the next great Anaheim defenseman. Regardless of who Anaheim takes with the third overall pick, they are going to get a very good prospect, one who we can look forward to watching with the Ducks in the years to come.

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Graduated Prospect: Benoit-Olivier Groulx

Graduated Prospect: Olen Zellweger

Graduated Prospect: Lukas Dostal

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June 27th, 2024


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