Ducks First Round Draft Recap

Photo: Anaheim Ducks

By Thomas Harrington

To the surprise of no one, the San Jose Sharks took forward Macklin Celebrini first overall. The draft really began with the second pick, when Artyom Levshunov was taken second overall. The Ducks were third and surprised some by taking right winger Beckett Sennecke. The top five was finished off by Columbus taking Cayden Lindstrom fourth overall and Montreal taking Ivan Demidov. Coming into the draft, many thought the top 10 would be defense heavy, but forwards went early. It wasn’t until the seventh overall pick that the second defenseman was selected. Overall, four defensemen were taken in the top ten picks.

The Anaheim Ducks started the day off with two picks in the first round: 3rd overall and 31st overall. The Ducks kept the third overall pick and chose Sennecke, but traded the 31st pick and the 58th pick in the second round to Toronto for the 23rd overall pick. With that pick, the Ducks chose defenseman Stian Solberg. Sennecke has some amazing hands and could become a lethal top six winger someday. He’s a better playmaker than scorer, but he also has a great shot. Standing at 6’2”, he’s a player with a similar profile to other early picks made by Pat Verbeek: size and skill. After not taking a defenseman third overall, it wasn’t a surprise to see the Ducks take a defenseman with their second first round pick. The Ducks clearly thought he’d be gone by the time they were up at 31st overall so moved up to make sure they could get him. Solberg was the second Norwegian player ever taken in the first round. The first was Michael Brandsegg-Nygard, who was chosen 15th overall by Detroit. He projects as a top four defenseman.

Sennecke himself was surprised to be taken third overall, leading to arguably the best reaction at the 2024 NHL Draft. There’s no questioning his skill, but his numbers don’t necessarily scream top three pick. He’s played for the Oshawa Generals of the OHL for the past two seasons, and scored 27 goals and 68 points in 63 games last year. Sennecke took his game to another level in the playoffs, scoring 10 goals and 22 points in 16 games. His great playoffs were previewed by a blistering end to the season, when he recorded 23 points in his final 14 games. Among draft eligible players who played in the OHL Playoffs, Sennecke led them in goals and points.

Despite being selected third overall, I don’t believe that Sennecke will be turning pro next season. Instead, I expect him to return to Oshawa for at least one, if not two years, before he turns pro. Depending on how well he develops, when Sennecke turns pro, he may bypass the AHL and go directly to the NHL. The Ducks have an enviable group of young forwards, both in the NHL and about to make the NHL; adding Sennecke to that group makes it even better.

Solberg wasn’t one of the top defensemen in the draft, but was in the next tier down. He doesn’t have a high offensive ceiling, but he is incredibly physical and one of the better defenders in the draft. He played for Valerenga in the Norway pro league and scored five goals and 15 points in 42 games. He also played for Norway at the World Junior Championships, scoring a goal and two points in five games. He finished the season playing for Norway at the World Championships, where he scored two goals and three points in seven games and was one of their best players.

Solberg will be moving from Norway to the SHL next season, playing for Farjestad BK. I’m assuming he’ll play there for at least a year or two before coming to North America. He’ll likely spend time in San Diego before he gets a shot at the NHL. He’s probably about three years away from making his Anaheim debut. Anaheim has a great group of young defensemen, and Solberg’s skill set should complement the players that the Ducks already have.

I had the Ducks taking a defenseman and a center with their first two picks. Instead, they chose a right winger and a defenseman. I had a list of eight players who I was hoping the Ducks would choose from at third overall and Sennecke was on that list, so I’m very happy with this pick. The Ducks aren’t deep on the wings in terms of prospect strength, so Sennecke steps in and becomes their top right wing prospect. Solberg wasn’t on my list for 31st overall; I was assuming he’d be long gone by the time the Ducks made that pick. Anaheim clearly thought that as well, which is why they traded up to take him. With Pavel Mintyukov, Jackson LaCombe, and Olen Zellweger all graduating, Solberg becomes one of Anaheim’s better defensive prospects.

After trading away the 31st and 58th overall picks to get the 23rd overall pick, the Anaheim Ducks have six more picks left in the draft: 35th overall, 66th overall, 68th overall, 79th overall, 100th overall, and 164th overall. With those picks, I think the Ducks take at least two more defensemen but continue to focus on drafting forwards. I don’t think they’ll take a goaltender, but it could happen with one of their later picks. The first round is over, and while Sennecke and Solberg won’t make Anaheim a better team this coming season, I do hope and expect big things from them in the years to come.

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June 27th, 2024


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