Reviewing Anaheim’s 2015 Draft Class

Photo: USA Today

By Thomas Harrington

Over a five year stretch from 2010 to 2014, the Anaheim Ducks had four very strong drafts. Unfortunately, their 2015 draft class was one of their weaker ones, and their grade is comparable to how they did in 2013. Making this even worse is that 2015 is known as one of the deeper drafts of recent years, especially the first round. Headlining this draft are two superstars: Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel. Other stars from just the first round include Mitch Marner, Mikko Rantanen, Thomas Chabot, and Brock Boeser.

The Ducks had seven picks in this draft, but none have become stars yet. Anaheim took Jacob Larsson 27th overall, Julius Nattinen 59th overall, Brent Gates Jr. 80th overall, Deven Sideroff 84th overall, Troy Terry 148th overall, Steven Ruggiero 178th overall, and Garrett Metcalf 179th overall. The Ducks had two picks in both the third and sixth rounds, but no picks in the fourth or seventh rounds.

Jacob Larsson

After being drafted, Larsson spent a few years in Sweden before coming to North America on a permanent basis. He did play a few games in Anaheim and San Diego in the 2016-2017 season, but most of his first few years after being drafted were spent overseas. He joined the Gulls in the 2017-2018 season and played in 50 games for them. Unfortunately, he was dealing with a knee injury during the entire season and it severely impacted his play and development that year. He played 49 games in the NHL the next season, and in 60 NHL games this year before the season was put on pause. He hasn’t scored much, but he’s shown flashes of what made him a first-round pick five years ago.

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Larsson wasn’t a bad choice for late in the first round, especially if he does become a top-four defenseman and kicks some of his bad habits. However, there were better players picked after him. Anthony Beauvillier was picked immediately after him and already has one 20 goal season under his belt. If the season does resume, he’ll likely do it again as he currently has 18. Expanding the comparisons into the first 10 picks of the second round shows that the Ducks missed a very good player. With the 35th overall pick, Carolina chose Sebastian Aho. He’s been in the league for four years and his lowest goal-scoring total was 24. If the season resumes, he’s got a chance at hitting 40. Larsson could become a solid third or fourth defenseman, but Aho is clearly the better player.

Julius Nattinen

After being drafted, Nattinen played in the OHL for two seasons. In his first season after being drafted, Nattinen scored 71 points and looked like a good pick. However, his next season did not go well and he scored only 38 points while playing in one fewer game. He joined the Gulls in the 2017-2018 season and had four goals and 12 points in 55 games. For whatever reason, every year after being drafted, Nattinen’s game just seemed to take a step back. After his season in San Diego, Nattinen went back to play in the Liiga and has been playing there ever since.

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As a late second-round pick, the comparisons for Nattinen will go into the third round. Normally, I’d only go 10 picks into the third round; however, I’ll go to the 11th pick of the third round for the player that Anaheim should have drafted. The third round of the 2015 Draft is filled with players who haven’t done much in the NHL, except for one: Anthony Cirelli. Only nine skaters from this round have made it to the NHL, but Cirelli is the only one who has played over 100 games. Tampa Bay picked him and he has 94 points in 168 games.

Brent Gates Jr.

After being drafted, Gates spent four years in the NCAA before becoming a full-time pro this past season. He didn’t sign an entry-level contract with the Ducks, but he did sign an AHL deal with the Gulls. He suited up in 20 games for the Gulls and scored four goals and five points, and he also played in 25 games in the ECHL and scored 10 goals and 20 points.

Deven Sideroff

After being drafted, Sideroff spent two years in the WHL before turning pro. He played two years with the Gulls but was never able to earn a full-time spot on the roster. He split this year between the AHL and ECHL before the season was put on pause. He’s also dealt with injuries over the last couple of seasons, missing the second half of the 2018-2019 season and significant time this season as well.

Since both were late third-round picks, and since Anaheim didn’t have a fourth-round pick in this draft, I think that it’s fair to compare both of these players to everyone drafted in the fourth round of 2015. Similar to the third round, the fourth round of 2015 doesn’t have a ton of NHL talent, but some useful NHL players have come out of it. The Florida Panthers picked Denis Malgin 102nd overall and he leads all players from this round with 60 points and 192 games. At 99th overall, the Kings selected Austin Wagner. He doesn’t score a lot, but he does have almost 130 NHL games to his credit. Either of them would have been better picks than Gates or Sideroff.

Troy Terry

After being drafted, Terry spent three years in the NCAA before turning pro. He has spent the last two seasons splitting time between the NHL and AHL. With the Gulls, he’s averaging just over a point-per-game. With the Ducks, he has 28 points in 81 NHL games. While those NHL numbers aren’t spectacular, the AHL numbers give me hope for his future. He’s still adjusting to the physical nature of the NHL, and once he does, I think he’ll start scoring with the Ducks at a much higher rate than we’ve seen so far.

Terry’s 28 points are currently fourth among players drafted in the fifth round. However, the player drafted immediately after him, Adam Gaudette, has 45 points in 120 games. So for a late fifth-round pick, Terry was a solid choice, but right now, Gaudette is looking like the better one. However, that could change in the years to come if Terry can become a top-line winger for Anaheim. If the comparison expands to the first 10 picks in the sixth round, there were a few useful players taken. However, similar to Terry, they’ve played few enough NHL games where their game is still developing and it remains to be seen what kind of players they will ultimately end up as.

Steven Ruggiero

After being drafted, Ruggiero played in the NCAA before going back to the USHL in the 2016-2017 season. He then went back to the NCAA for the next two seasons and signed a minor league deal with San Diego last summer. He played in one game with the Gulls and spent the rest of this season in the ECHL.

After being drafted, Metcalf spent a year in the USHL before heading to the NCAA. He had to sit out the 2017-2018 season because he transferred, and has been playing at Mercyhurst University for the last two seasons. Anaheim has until next summer to sign him to a contract before they lose his rights.

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Given that both players were taken so close to the end of the sixth round and the fact that Anaheim didn’t have a seventh-round pick, I think it’s fair to compare them against every player taken in the seventh round as well. Currently, only four players from the seventh round of 2015 have made it to the NHL: Markus Nutivaara, Matt Roy, Sami Niku, and Joey Daccord.

Daccord has only played in one NHL game, but the other three have all played in 48 games or more. Nutivaara went 189th overall to Columbus and leads these players with 60 points and 244 games. Right now, any of Nutivaara, Roy, or Niku would have been better picks than Ruggiero or Metcalf. However, if Metcalf turns into an NHL goaltender someday or Ruggiero makes his way to the NHL, then they could end up being as good or better, but as of right now, that’s not the case.

Final Thoughts

Right now, the 2015 NHL Draft is a big miss for Anaheim. However, unlike the 2013 NHL Draft, this one still has some hope of improving in the future. Out of seven picks, the Ducks were able to find two NHL players, and neither has yet been able to fully establish themselves as NHL regulars. I still have very high hopes for Terry, and I’m still hopeful for Larsson, but the rest of their picks didn’t bring much to the organization besides AHL depth. As of right now, the 2015 NHL Draft wasn’t a great one for the Ducks. If the Ducks had picked Aho or Cirelli, then their grade would be much better right now.

Final Grade

Overall, I’d give this draft a C- for Anaheim, but with the caveat that the grade could change in the future. If Terry can turn into a 20 goal scorer and Larsson becomes a top-four defenseman, then it will go up. However, if either ends up having a short NHL career, then that grade could drop lower.

The good news for Anaheim is that their 2016 draft class is looking much stronger than their 2015 draft class. However, I won’t review the 2016 draft until next summer, five years from when the draft took place. With the individual draft reviews now complete, next up I plan to do a quick summary of the rest of the drafts with Bob Murray as Anaheim’s GM, and then finish up with an overall grade for the work he has done at the draft.

Related Articles:

What Latest Draft Lottery Proposal Could Mean For Anaheim

Draft Prospect Profile: Alexander Holtz

Draft Prospect Profile: Jamie Drysdale

Reviewing Anaheim’s 2014 Draft Class

Reviewing Anaheim’s 2013 Draft Class

Reviewing Anaheim’s 2012 Draft Class

Reviewing Anaheim’s 2011 Draft Class

Reviewing Anaheim’s 2010 Draft Class

Reviewing Anaheim’s 2009 Draft Class

Draft Now, Season Later?

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May 11th, 2020


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