By Thomas Harrington
The Anaheim Ducks have announced the roster for their upcoming rookie camp, which will begin on September 11th and run through September 16th. There will be practice sessions open to the public this Friday Sept 11th at 10:45AM, as well as next Tuesday Sept. 14th and Wednesday Sept. 15th at 10:30AM. All practices will be at the The Rinks Anaheim Ice. The rookies will participate in two futures games in San Jose, on September 12th and 13th. While I don’t know any specifics yet, I’m sure the two games will at least be on the radio, if not available online somewhere to watch. If you get the chance, I highly recommend listening to or watching the game. After a long summer, it’s a great way to see some early hockey action before training camp opens up. The Ducks will have 15 forwards, eight defensemen, and three goaltenders at the camp. Not surprisingly, the position with the most potential for an NHL future rests in the defense, as the Ducks will have several defensemen attending camp who could make it to the NHL this season.
Before I get to the rookie roster, there are a few notable Ducks’ prospects who will not be attending: John Gibson, Chris Wagner, Jacob Larsson, Kevin Roy, Marcus Pettersson, Nick Sorensen, Andy Welinski, and Michael Sgarbossa. Gibson, Wagner, and Sgarbossa will be at the Ducks’ training camp, which will open shortly after the conclusion of the rookie camp. All of them will be battling for a spot on Anaheim’s roster, but all three will most likely spend most of the upcoming season in San Diego. Larsson, Pettersson, and Sorensen are playing in Europe and they have already begun playing overseas. Roy and Welinski, as well as every other NCAA prospect the Ducks have, have already begun their school year and are not able to attend the rookie camp.
Josh Manson, Joseph Cramarossa, and Stefan Noesen were all drafted in 2011 and represent some of the older prospects the Ducks currently have. This should be Manson’s final rookie camp, as his one-way contract kicks in next summer and he should be a full time NHLer by then. However, before that, he has one more season where he will spend at least part of the time in the AHL. Cramarossa is unlikely to make it to the NHL this year, but as an AHL veteran of two seasons, his experience will be a valuable asset for a young Gulls team. Noesen is one of the Ducks’ best offensive prospects. He’s bounced back from two major injuries and will look to have a strong season, beginning this week.
Kenton Helgesen, Nic Kerdiles, Andrew O’Brien, and Jaycob Megna were all drafted in 2012. Helgesen is listed as a forward, but he can also play defense, and how he is used at both rookie and training camps will be interesting to watch. He’ll be starting his AHL career this season. After suffering a concussion midway through last season, Kerdiles only played in a couple of games at the end of the season. This weekend’s games will be a good litmus test to see where he is at in terms of his recovery and how well he has bounced back. Expect him to spend most of this season in San Diego, with a shot at making his NHL debut if all goes right for him. O’Brien and Megna are two of the biggest prospects who are attending rookie camp, both listed at 6’ 4”. Neither scores much, but instead use their body to block out the opposition. Expect both to be part of San Diego’s defensive core this season.
Shea Theodore is the only player from the 2013 draft class who will be at this year’s rookie camp. The rest of that draft class is either in Europe, the NCAA, or no longer a part of the Ducks’ organization. Theodore looks to be one of the top defensemen in San Diego this coming season, and could very well make his NHL debut at some point. Last year, he got injured at the futures games and will hope to avoid a repeat performance.
Nick Ritchie and Brandon Montour represent the 2014 draft class. Ritchie is the top left wing prospect in the Ducks’ system and the team has high hopes for him. Bob Murray is on record saying that he wants Ritchie to develop in San Diego, but a strong rookie camp, followed by a strong training camp, from Ritchie could see that play fall by the wayside. Montour had an incredible year last season, playing in three different leagues and turning pro. Expect him to start this season on the Gulls’ second or third pair, but don’t be surprised if he moves up as the season progresses.
Julius Nattinen and Deven Sideroff were both taken at the draft this past June, and while neither is expected to be in the NHL or AHL this season, a solid showing at rookie camp from both should help make sure the Ducks keep them in their long term plans going forward. It was decided that it would be best for Nattinen’s development for him to come to North America this season and play in the OHL, rather than remain in Finland. Sideroff will be in his second full season in the WHL this year.
Besides drafted players, there are a few players the Ducks signed as free agents who will be attending rookie camp: Matt Bailey, Charles Sarault, and Kevin Gagne. All three players are in the final years of their contract, and if they want to re-sign with the Ducks next summer, a good showing at rookie camp is a good place to get the process started. Expect all three to spend this coming season in San Diego.
There are also a number of players who are on an Amateur Try Outs or on a Professional Try Outs. Players on an ATO are just leaving the college or junior ranks and looking to turn pro. Players on a PTO have already been playing professional hockey but have not be signed to an NHL contract yet and are attempting to do so. Of the players on an ATO attending rookie camp, the one to watch is Nathan Noel. He was eligible for the draft back in June but to the surprise of many, he was not selected. Noel will be playing to make it as a professional in hockey and I’m expecting a strong camp out of him. The player to watch on a PTO attending the rookie camp is goaltender Ryan Faragher. He was a member of the Ducks’ organization last year and split his time between the AHL and the ECHL. After the Ducks decided not to sign him, he signed an AHL deal with San Diego, and will either play there or in Utah this coming season. The rest of the players on ATOs and PTOs will be fun to watch, but I’m not expecting a lot from them.
Given the goalies that the Ducks have brought with them to San Jose, as well as not a lot of elite prospect depth, I’m not expecting two wins from the Ducks his weekend. However, the Ducks are bringing a strong defensive core, led primarily by Manson, Theodore, and Montour, and if that unit plays well enough, they may come up with two victories. At forward, the Ducks don’t have any top centers, but I’ll be interested to see how both Nattinen and Noel do as two of the Ducks’ centers. Between Ritchie, Kerdiles, and Noesen, the Ducks are stronger at wing, but will need to find more scoring besides those three if the Ducks’ rookies want to pick up two wins this weekend.
To me, the Ducks rookie camp is the unofficial start to the season. Players and coaching staff are on the ice, getting ready for game action. Rookie camp is usually a lot of fun, and this year should be no different.
For more minor league stats, please visit here for an expanded roster sheet: Anaheim Ducks Prospect Roster
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