By Thomas Harrington
After having no first round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, the Anaheim Ducks made five selections on day two of the draft. The Ducks selected winger Maxime Comtois 50th overall, center Antoine Morand 60th overall, forward Jack Badini 91st overall, right winger Kyle Olson 122nd overall, and goaltender Olle Eriksson Ek 153rd overall. Comtois and Morand are actually best friends and were drafted second and third overall in the 2015 QMJHL Draft. As was the case with the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, the Ducks loaded up on forwards. Even with Shea Theodore gone and Brandon Montour ready for a full-time NHL job, Anaheim still has an incredibly deep prospect pool on defense. In addition to that, the defensive core in Anaheim is incredibly young, while their best forwards are getting older, so it just made sense for the Ducks to continue to bring new forward prospects into the organization. However, it was a surprise to see the team not take even one defenseman in the draft. I believe this is the first time in franchise history that has happened.
It was not a surprise to see the Ducks take a goalie with their final pick. Anaheim doesn’t have a particularly deep goalie prospect pool, though they have signed a couple of free agents in recent years to add to it. While most players were taken after the first round take longer to develop and have a lot less fanfare, the Ducks have made some very good picks after the first round in recent years. Montour, Ondrej Kase, Frederik Andersen, Josh Manson, John Gibson, and William Karlsson were all taken in rounds two through seven over the last several years, and they’ve done all right.
Maxine Comtois @comtois20 (2nd Round, 50th Overall)
The Andersen trade from a year ago now officially reads as the Ducks trading Andersen to Toronto for Sam Steel and Comtois. Hopefully, this proves to be a great trade for the Ducks in the long run. A lot of people had Comtois ranked as an early second round pick, if not a late first round pick, so the Ducks are very happy that he was still available at 50th overall. He spent last season playing for the Victoriaville Tigres of the QMJHL and scored 22 goals and 51 points in 64 games. He finished fourth on the team in both goals and points. In the playoffs, he scored one goal in four games as Victoriaville was swept in the first round. In the 2015-2016 season, Comtois was named to the QMJHL All-Rookie team as he scored 26 goals and 60 points that season. He’s a big kid who can play center or wing and could end up being a second or third line forward someday. For now, he’ll spend at least two more years in the QMJHL before turning pro, and he’ll likely be San Diego bound when that happens. He projects to be a power forward, and will hopefully fit right in with Anaheim in the next few years.
Antoine Morand @antoinemorand18 (2nd Round, 60th Overall)
Morand finished up his second season in the QMJHL last year with 28 goals and 74 points in 67 games for the Acadie-Bathurst Titans. In the playoffs, he scored two goals and 12 points in 11 games. Similar to Comtois, Morand also made the QMJHL All-Rookie Team in the 2015-2016 season when he scored 14 goals and 50 points in 48 games. Morand was one of the Titans’ alternate captains this season. He’s small but dynamic and a very good playmaker. He was second in scoring among forwards under 18 years old in the QMJHL this past season. As one of the younger players selected, it’s a little harder to predict his future, but his scoring rate among his age group gives me hope for his development. Similar to Comtois, Morand should spend the next two years in the QMJHL before turning pro. It would be cool to see Comtois and Morand join San Diego together in a couple of years.
Jack Badini @jackbadini (3rd Round, 91st Overall)
Badini is another prospect who can play both center and left wing. He played for the Chicago Steel of the USHL last season and scored 28 goals and 42 points in 59 games. He was the leading scorer of the USHL playoffs with seven goals and 17 points in 14 games. Badini will attend Harvard in the fall. He’ll also attend the 2017 World Junior Summer Showcase and have a shot at playing for Team USA at the World Juniors after Christmas. Badini will likely spend at least two or three years at Harvard before turning pro. It wouldn’t surprise me if he followed Kevin Roy’s route and played there for all four years before joining the Gulls.
Kyle Olson @Olson_19 (4th Round, 122nd Overall)
Olson played for the Tri-City Americans in the WHL last season and scored 20 goals and 57 points in 72 games. Those numbers were all huge increases from his rookie season when Olson scored three goals and 10 points in 19 games. Olson doesn’t particularly excel at any one area of the game but is a solid all-around player who hustles and doesn’t give up on the play. He’ll spend the next two seasons in the WHL, and maybe even an overage season before he turns pro and heads to San Diego.
Joel Eriksson Ek @ekinator (5th Round, 153rd Overall)
The Ducks take a Swedish player almost every year, so it seemed inevitable that they would take one with their final selection after picking North American players with their first four picks. Eriksson Ek was the number two ranked European goaltender coming into this draft. He played for Farjestad BK J20 of the SuperElit last season, with a goals against average of 2.16 and a save percentage of .924. Eriksson Ek is a solid goalie who is technically sound and fills the net well. He’ll be back in net for Farjestad BK J20 next season, though I’m hoping he gets some time in the SHL, Sweden’s top league. It’s always a little harder to predict when European players will come over to North America. Hampus Lindholm came over right after being drafted, while Marcus Pettersson was drafted in 2014 and has been developing in Sweden ever since. My best guess is that he spends at least one more season in Sweden before coming stateside, though I won’t be surprised if he spends another two or three years in Sweden before the Ducks look to bring him over.
Despite the lack of first round picks, I think the Ducks did very well today. It’s doubtful that any of these players will ever be a franchise player, but Anaheim did a great job of stocking up and adding to their prospect forward depth. In the second round, they got a couple of highly skilled forwards who have been playing very well in the QMJHL. Badini will go the NCAA route, which has been a successful one for many current NHL stars. Olson has a lot of room to grow but took a huge step forward this year. Finally, the Ducks drafted a goalie, adding to their weakest prospect position.
While it hasn’t officially been announced, Ducks summer camp should happen in the next week or so and give us Anaheim fans our first look at these draft picks, as well as other players drafted in recent years. Between that and free agency starting in a week, plus any potential trades, things should continue to be exciting in Anaheim.
Follow all the Ducks moves this summer by visiting our Anaheim Ducks Summer Transactions Tracker.
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June 24th, 2017