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Anaheim Rookie Tournament Preview
By Thomas Harrington
This weekend the Anaheim Ducks will host the 2019 Rookie Faceoff at Great Park Ice, 888 Ridge Valley, Irvine, CA 92618. Prospects from Arizona, Colorado, Los Angeles, San Jose, and Vegas will participate in the tournament. The Ducks’ rookies will play in three games: against Los Angeles on Saturday(5PM), against San Jose on Sunday(5PM), and against Vegas on Tuesday(3PM).
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The Ducks will have a total of 28 players participating in the tournament: 15 forwards, 10 defensemen, and three goaltenders. Anaheim will have five players selected in the 2015 draft, five players from the 2016 draft, three players from the 2017 draft, five players from the 2018 draft, two players from the 2019 draft, two free agents, one acquired via trade, two players on professional tryouts, and three players on amateur tryouts. No college prospects will be participating in the tournament since school has already started for them, which is why so few players from the 2019 draft will be in attendance. Given the size of the roster, I anticipate most players playing in two games, and each goaltender playing in one each. With only 15 forwards, it wouldn’t surprise me to see several of them get three games. With 10 defensemen, it will be more likely for more of them to only get one game.
2015 Draft Class
Deven Sideroff, Troy Terry, Jacob Larsson, Steven Ruggiero, and Brent Gates, Jr. are the players representing the 2015 draft class. Given how much NHL time Terry and Larsson got last season, I wouldn’t be surprised if either of them played in only one game. When they play, they should be some of the better players on the ice. Sideroff missed a ton of time with injuries last season, so a strong tournament from him could go a long way to him getting more ice time in San Diego this season. I think he’ll probably get into two games. Both Ruggiero and Gates are no longer Anaheim prospects as their rights expired, but they signed deals in San Diego and are able to participate in the tournament. If they have a strong tournament followed by a strong season, the Ducks could decide to sign them either during this season or next summer. I could see either of them playing in two or three games.
2016 Draft Class
From the 2016 draft, Anaheim will have Alex Dostie, Max Jones, Jack Kopacka, Sam Steel, and Josh Mahura participating in the tournament. Steel and Mahura are both pushing for NHL time this season, and I think they could get in to all three games. Jones has an NHL ready body but needs to work on his finishing, so I think he’ll probably be in two or three games. Dostie has played in both the AHL and ECHL these past couple seasons. A strong tournament could help to solidify his spot in San Diego’s lineup this year. I think he’ll probably get two games. Kopacka had a strong rookie season but missed a ton of time with injuries for the Gulls. I think he’ll play in two or three games.
2017 Draft Class
Max Comtois, Antoine Morand, and Olle Eriksson Ek represent Anaheim’s 2017 draft class. Comtois is pushing for a spot in Anaheim’s lineup and he could get three games. Morand will be starting his first pro season. If he can, I think he could play in three games, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he only plays in two. Eriksson Ek should get one game in net.
2018 Draft Class
From the 2018 draft, the Ducks will have Benoit-Olivier Groulx, Isac Lundestrom, Hunter Drew, Lukas Dostal, and Romany Durny playing. Groulx still has another season of juniors ahead of him, but if he has a great tournament, he could play in all three games. I expect him to play two games, however, it’s hard to predict how much time Lundestrom will spend in the NHL this season, and how he does in this tournament could go a long way in helping to determine that. I think he’ll play in all three games. Drew will be in his first pro season and he’s on an AHL only deal. I think he’ll get two games. Dostal and Durny should each get one game in net.
2019 Draft Class
Brayden Tracey and Mathew Hill are Anaheim’s only representatives from the 2019 draft. As one of Anaheim’s recent first-round picks, I think the Ducks want to see what they have in Tracey and that he’ll get three games. Hill will probably play in two.
Kiefer Sherwood and Simon Benoit are the two free agents that the Ducks signed. Given how much time Sherwood spent in the NHL last season, I think he’ll only play in one or two games. Benoit was one of San Diego’s most steady blueliners last season and I think he could end up playing in all three games.
Brendan Guhle was acquired from Buffalo. I think Anaheim already has him penciled into their lineup. However, given how he was injured to end last season, he may play in two or three games to see how well he’s recovered. But, if he looks good, the Ducks may only play him in one game if they are happy with what they see.
Johno May and Scott Moldenhauer are the two players on professional tryouts. Both spent a little time in San Diego last season but spent the majority of the year in the ECHL. A strong tournament from either could lead to more time in the AHL. They’ll each get at least a game, but I’m not sure if they’ll get more than that unless a player gets injured or the Ducks decide to sit a player out that they were initially planning to play.
Chase Wouters, Dawson Davidson, and Zack Hayes are the three players who are on amateur tryouts at this tournament. Similar to May and Moldenhauer, these three will likely get at least one game, and then be used if they have a great game or the Ducks want to rest someone else.
The other teams will bring several notable prospects to the tournament. Against Los Angeles, the Ducks could face off against top prospects like Rasmus Kupari, Tobias Bjornfot, and Akil Thomas. Against San Jose, Anaheim could face off against top prospects like Ryan Merkley, Ivan Chekhovich, and Mario Ferraro. Against Vegas, Anaheim could face off against top prospects like Cody Glass, Nicolas Hague, and Lucas Elvenes. Even though the Ducks won’t play against Arizona or Colorado, it would be worth watching either of those two teams to see prospects like Victor Soderstrom, Barrett Hayton, and Nick Merkley on the Coyotes or Bowen Byram, Martin Kaut, and Conor Timmins.
As of right now, there has been no announcement about the games being aired or streamed, but when asked, the Ducks did say that they would have more info closer to the tournament. Hopefully, the games will be available in some format, so we can all see these young players in action. Rookie tournaments are a lot of fun. Hopefully it will be the start of a great season for Anaheim’s prospects, and, even more importantly, that every player who plays stays healthy.
Click below for the Ducks full rookie roster.
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September 4th, 2019