Prospect Update: Jack Badini

Photo: Tulsa World

By Thomas Harrington

A third round pick from 2017, Jack Badini completed his first career professional season after three years of NCAA hockey.

With the AHL season delayed, Badini started the year in the ECHL, playing for the Tulsa Oilers. In Tulsa, Badini skated in 14 games and scored a goal and two points. In January, as San Diego’s season was getting ready to start, Badini was reassigned to the Gulls and spent the rest of the year in the AHL.

With San Diego, Badini played in 23 games and recorded one assist. He was a healthy scratch several times, but found a home as the team’s fourth line center many nights. He played in all three playoff games and was scoreless, playing on the fourth line in those three games. He also played a lot on the penalty kill unit, helping the Gulls have the second-best penalty kill unit in the AHL.

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Badini did a pretty good job of meeting my expectations from a year ago. I wanted him to play as much hockey as possible. Between the ECHL and AHL, he suited up for 37 regular season games. While he was a healthy scratch at times, the fact that he played in every playoff game, despite his lack of offense, means that he was contributing to the team in a lot of different ways. He really found himself a home on San Diego’s fourth line.

This coming season, Badini will be back with San Diego, probably largely playing on the fourth line and penalty kill unit. While Trevor Zegras will likely be in Anaheim, there are still plenty of other centers on the team like Benoit-Olivier Groulx, Chase De Leo, and Sam Carrick, assuming Carrick re-signs this summer, that is. Also, other Anaheim center prospects will likely join the team and the Ducks will probably bring in more center depth via free agency for the Gulls. So his spot on the roster isn’t assured.

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I have a couple of expectations for Badini this coming season. First, to play in more games and score more points. He’s a defensive specialist, but he needs to start putting the puck in the back of the net. Second, I’d like to see him play up the lineup a little more often. Badini played well on the fourth line, but I’d like to see him spend more time on the third line. If he could get time on a scoring line and succeed there, that would be even better.

Badini has a ways to go before making it to the NHL. His offensive game needs to come around if he wants a shot at Anaheim’s roster. The Ducks have several other young forwards who are much more likely to see time in the NHL this season. As a result, I don’t think Badini will make his NHL debut this coming season. If he can start scoring some points, he might have a chance in the 2022-2023 season, but even that feels like a bit of a long shot right now. However, he is a defensive specialist, and if his defensive game can become strong enough, we could see him in a Ducks uniform in the next year or two.

Badini has one year left on his entry-level contract and he’ll be a restricted free agent next summer. Badini is a dependable, but unspectacular player. I do think he’ll be brought back next year, but most likely on a one-year two-way deal. However, if he struggles, I could see the Ducks not qualifying him next summer. At that point, he could sign an AHL-only deal with the Gulls, or look elsewhere as a free agent.

The next prospect update will be on Ethan Bowen.

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July 19th, 2021