SIGN UP FOR
OUR NEWS LETTER
MAKE A DONATIONDONATE
Graduated Prospect: Andy Welinski
By Thomas Harrington
A third-round pick from 2011, Andy Welinski has become an offensive force from the blueline in the AHL. While those numbers haven’t translated to the Ducks yet, we’ve seen flashes of it in Anaheim.
Welinski was constantly going back and forth between Anaheim and San Diego this season. By my count, he was called up to Anaheim six times during the course of the season. When he was in San Diego, Welinski was almost always on the Gulls’ top defensive pairing, getting time on the powerplay and penalty kill. Welinski started the season in San Diego and scored two goals and three points in his second game of the season. He had three multi-point games. Overall, he played 27 games with the Gulls and scored eight goals and 19 points. Given how much he was in and out of the lineup, those are exceptional numbers. If he had spent the entire season in San Diego, he likely would have had 50+ points.
Coming into this year, Welinski had seven career NHL games, all in the 2017-2018 season. Welinski played his first NHL game this past season at the end of October and picked up his first assist of the season. He scored his first career NHL goal against Calgary on March 29th. With the Ducks, he was in and out of the lineup and played up and down the lineup. He didn’t get much time on the penalty kill, but he led Anaheim rookie defensemen in total powerplay time, playing just over 19 minutes with the man advantage. Welinski was not one of Anaheim’s four call-ups after the trade deadline, but he did play several games in Anaheim after the deadline when Anaheim ran into injury issues on defense. Overall, he played in 26 games and scored one goal and four points.
Coming into the Calder Cup Playoffs, there was a surprising stat about Welinski: he had never scored a postseason goal in the AHL. Well, in game four of the first round against San Jose, he changed that, in helping the Gulls defeat the Barracuda. Overall, he finished with three goals and 10 points, leading all San Diego defensemen in goals and points, while finishing fifth on the team in points. At the time the Gulls were eliminated, Welinski was tied for second in the AHL in defensive scoring. He had a three-assist night in the final game against Bakersfield and scored a goal and an assist in game one against Chicago. He really cemented himself as San Diego’s top offensive defenseman.
Last summer, I had two different sets of expectations for Welinski. When in San Diego, to be one of their top defensemen, which he definitely met. When in Anaheim, to just play as much hockey as possible. That one is a little harder to judge. Unfortunately, he was a healthy scratch many nights in Anaheim, and when he was in the lineup, there were some nights where he played less than 10 minutes. However, he also topped 20 minutes sometimes. Overall, he averaged just over 16 minutes of ice time per game. He did improve as the season went on, and that’s all I really wanted out of him.
If Welinski is re-signed, he’s going to have some stiff competition in Anaheim next season. The Ducks’ top four is pretty much set, but Jaycob Megna, Jacob Larsson, and Welinski could all be in the mix for the bottom pair. The recently signed Jani Hakanpaa could also get a shot. Of the four, Welinski clearly has the most offensive upside. His shot is absolutely lethal, though we have rarely seen it at the NHL level. If he wants a full-time spot in Anaheim, Welinski needs to use his shot much more often and much more effectively. If he can do that, he’ll find some time with the Ducks.
Welinski was an AHL All-Star and clearly has the talent to play on an NHL powerplay unit, but at even strength, he’s likely a bottom pairing defenseman. Still, if he can improve his game, he has a shot at being a team’s fourth defenseman someday. However, if he wants to get to that point, he needs to start showing that this coming year.
Welinski is a group six free agent and can sign wherever he wants on July 1st. I think the Ducks would like him back, but that’s far from a guarantee. At this point, he hasn’t done enough to warrant a one-way deal, which is something that Welinski might want. However, it’s unlikely he’ll find one elsewhere. The Ducks could try and sign him to an AHL only deal, but I feel like he still wants a shot at the NHL, and won’t accept that. It will be interesting to see what he and the Ducks decide to do this summer.
The next graduated prospect will be Jacob Larsson.
Want to start your sports media career? Then Join The Puck Network!
DucksNPucks is part of The Puck Network, which covers the entire NHL. There are openings to cover your favorite team(s) and earn school credits! If you are interested, then apply by filling out the form here: Join Our Team. What are you waiting for? Start your sports media career TODAY!
June 12th, 2019