By Thomas Harrington
Yesterday, the Anaheim Ducks made their first round of roster cuts, sending center Alex Dostie and winger Jack Kopacka back to their junior teams and releasing center Zack MacEwen, goaltender Antoine Samuel, and defenseman Darian Skeoch from their tryout agreements. None of these cuts are particularly surprising. Anaheim now has 59 players left at camp.
Both Dostie and Kopacka were selected in the fourth round of the 2016 draft. Even with an unsigned Rickard Rakell, the Ducks look pretty set at center, so Dostie had little chance of making it to the NHL this season. Giving him a few days of camp will hopefully help him with what he needs to work on this year. He was 19 when the Ducks drafted him and will be AHL eligible in a year’s time. If this is his final year of juniors, hopefully, he has a great season in Gatineau. The Ducks are a little thinner on the left side but have a number of older and more NHL ready prospects than Kopacka, such as Nick Ritchie, Nic Kerdiles, and Kalle Kossila. All three of them could play on Anaheim’s left side at some point this season. Kopacka is still 18 and isn’t ready for the rigors of the NHL season. Similar to Dostie, a few days in an NHL camp will hopefully help Kopacka have a better year in juniors this coming season. Neither of these two are among the Ducks’ top prospects and there simply aren’t enough preseason games for them to see some action. Hopefully, both of them will make their way into Anaheim’s lineup for a preseason game next year. They both got a taste of what it takes to succeed in the NHL and now get to attend their junior team’s training camps.
With the World Cup of Hockey going on, a lot of teams invited more players than usual to attend training camp in order to have more bodies available for practice. Now that Anaheim is starting to get players back from the World Cup, it’s not surprising to see Anaheim release some of the players who they brought in to fill the empty space. MacEwen will actually play for Gatineau with Dostie this coming season, so bringing him along may have been the Ducks helping to build a little chemistry between the two before the season starts. Samuel will be in the QMJHL this season. The hope for him is to get drafted in a year’s time as a 19-year-old, as Dostie did back in June. Skeoch will be starting his second season in the WHL.
As more and more players return from the World Cup, expect other small roster cuts to be made by the Ducks. Also, after the first few preseason games, expect a large number of players to be assigned to San Diego so the Gulls can get their training camp and preseason started. After that large group is sent to the AHL, we’ll have a much better idea of which rookies will have a legitimate chance to start the season in the NHL this year.
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