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A Look Back At Last Summer’s Graduated Prospects
By Thomas Harrington
Last summer, I named Max Jones, Troy Terry, Brendan Guhle, Jacob Larsson, and Kiefer Sherwood as Anaheim’s graduated prospects. A year later, it’s time to look back and see if they’ve continued to progress as hoped. I’ll first give a brief summary of why I considered each of them graduated last year, and then take a look at how this past season went for them. Finally, I’ll examine where they are in their careers and what I think will happen for them next.
Jones only played in 30 games with Anaheim in the 2018-2019 season, but the reason I considered him graduated a year ago was because of when he played those games. All of his games came in the new year, and he was one of Anaheim’s call-ups following the trade deadline. It was that trust in him as one of their four final callups that showed me that Anaheim really viewed him as ready for the NHL.
Jones spent most of this year in the NHL. He had a couple of brief stints with the Gulls in December and January but only played in eight AHL games. For the rest of the season, he was with Anaheim, playing in 59 games and scoring eight goals and 12 points. While it wasn’t the offensive explosion that many hoped for, his play did improve as the season went along, especially in his own end of the ice. As a result, he ended up seeing increasingly more time on the penalty kill as the season went along.
A year ago, I said that Jones would never be an elite goal scorer, but I believed that he could become a 20 goal scorer someday. I still think that’s true, but I’m a little less confident in him hitting 20 goals after his low offensive output. Jones will become an effective NHLer, but the question for him really is will he score in the 10 to 15 goal range and play primarily on the third or fourth line, or will he become a true power forward who plays in the top six and regularly scores over 20 goals a season. Power forwards usually take longer to develop, so I’m not ready to give up on him yet. In fact, I found his physical and defensive play encouraging for his NHL future, but he does need to start finding the back of the net on a much more regular basis. Of all of Anaheim’s young players, I feel that Jones is probably the one who has done the best at adapting to the physical nature of the NHL, something that could give him a leg up on other players. He has one more year left on his entry-level deal, and I expect him to get extended a year from now.
Terry split time between the NHL and AHL in the 2018-2019 season. Similar to Jones, much of that NHL time came in the second half of the season. He was called up from San Diego in February and spent the rest of the season in the NHL. Unfortunately, he broke his leg blocking a shot but still played in 32 games for the Ducks.
This past season, Terry played primarily in the NHL, suiting up for 47 games in Anaheim and scoring four goals and 15 points. He had a brief stint in San Diego in January after recovering from an injury in December. He played in 14 games for the Gulls and scored 16 points. He was assigned to San Diego again in February to try and boost his confidence. The hope was that he would go down to the AHL, tear up the league, and help lead the Gulls into the playoffs and on a long postseason run. Unfortunately, with the AHL season being canceled, that didn’t happen.
Terry had an up and down season. At times, he looked incredibly dangerous. He’s got a great vision on the ice and has a lethal shot, he just needs to learn when to use it. Similar to Sam Steel and others, he does need to work on dealing with the physical play of the NHL. Terry has clearly figured it out at the AHL level, where he’s managed to score at over a point-per-game pace in parts of two seasons. If he can figure things out at the NHL level, I think he’ll become Anaheim’s next great scoring threat from the right-wing. He’s a restricted free agent this summer, and I’m confident that he’ll be signed to an extension before Anaheim is back on the ice.
Guhle didn’t play a ton of games in the 2018-2019 season, but it was clear from his arrival that Anaheim was willing to play him in their top four. Essentially taking Brandon Montour’s place, Guhle played over 18 minutes of ice time in his Anaheim debut and broke the 24-minute mark in his third game with the team. Unfortunately, he was injured in his fifth game and only returned to action in the final game of the season.
This past season was a bit of a disappointing one for Guhle. He split time between Anaheim and San Diego, getting 30 games with the Ducks and 27 with the Gulls. In the NHL, he scored four goals and eight points, both career highs for him. In the AHL, he scored four goals and 14 points. The hope was that Guhle would spend a lot of time next to Cam Fowler this season, and the two were often paired together in training camp and the preseason.
Unfortunately, Guhle wasn’t quite up for consistent top-four minutes and his ice-time was all over the map. Some nights he broke 20 minutes, while some nights he only played about 11 minutes. Still, his overall play was better than the season before. Similar to Terry, he was assigned to San Diego to help them push for a playoff spot in March, but he only played in a handful of games before the season ended.
Guhle has a lot of good tools at his disposal, but, like a lot of other young players, he’s still working on putting everything together. His offensive upside is noticeably less than Montour’s, but I do think he could end up being more defensively responsible than Montour. He did just sign a two-year extension with Anaheim, so the Ducks clearly see him as part of their future.
Larsson played in 49 games and recorded five assists for the Ducks in the 2018-2019 season. He also played in 22 games for the Gulls. It took a little while for Anaheim’s first-round pick from 2015, but it looked like he was finally ready for a full-time NHL spot.
This past season was an up and down one for Larsson. Some nights, he looked like a legitimate top-four defenseman for the Ducks, while other nights he looked like his ceiling was that of a seventh defenseman. The good news is that I think he got better as the season went on, and he was playing some of his best hockey right before the season prematurely ended. Overall, he played in 60 games for the Ducks and scored two goals and 11 points. He also saw a little time in the AHL, getting in five games with the Gulls and scoring a goal and two points.
While Larsson will likely never be a top-pairing defenseman, I do think he has the tools to succeed in a top-four role. He’s a good skater who sometimes has a physical edge to his game. He’s a restricted free agent this summer and I expect him to get a deal similar to what Guhle got. He may get a slightly higher salary because he has more NHL experience, but I don’t think he’ll get a long-term extension with a high salary.
Sherwood was the surprise player of the 2018-2019 season, leading all Anaheim rookies with 50 games played. He scored six goals and 12 points. He also suited up for 29 AHL games, scoring six goals and 18 points. Anaheim was dealing with a large number of injuries and he took advantage of the situation. For an undrafted free agent playing in his first year of pro hockey, it was an excellent rookie season for Sherwood.
This past season didn’t go quite as well for Sherwood. Anaheim was much healthier on right-wing, and he started the season with San Diego. He didn’t get called up to Anaheim until after January, but he was with the team when the season was stopped. Overall, he played in 37 games for the Gulls, where he scored 16 goals and 23 points. He played in 10 games for the Ducks and recorded one assist.
Sherwood won’t ever be a top-six scorer, but he might be able to carve out a spot on a team’s third or fourth line. A year ago, I thought that he might have done just that, but there just wasn’t enough room in Anaheim for him early in the season. Going forward, he’s going to need to play even better than he did in his rookie season if he wants a consistent spot in Anaheim’s lineup. The Ducks are usually deep at right-wing, and as long as they are healthy, next season should be no different. He’s a restricted free agent this summer, and what kind of contract he receives will go a long way in showing what kind of future Anaheim thinks he has.
Next up, it’s time to turn to the prospect profiles for the prospects that Anaheim acquired over the past season. I’ll start with the recently signed Bryce Kindopp.
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July 7th, 2020