As the 2018-19 season winds down, the Anaheim Ducks, became forced to employ quite a few prospects with the big club. As injuries and losses mounted, this became more and more necessary. Recently, they fired Randy Carlyle as Bob Murray took over coaching duties. This was presumably to stream in more talent from the AHL.
Anaheim expects to end up with a top-5 draft pick this summer, maybe even a top-3 or better. Their prospect pool still needs help. 2019 and 2020 could be good years to replenish that pool.
2018-19 Top 10 Anaheim Ducks Prospects
1. Sam Steel, C – Anaheim (NHL), San Diego (AHL)
Drafted: 30th overall in the first round of the 2016 draft by Anaheim
Steel played four seasons with the Regina Pats of the WHL and then played for San Diego this year. His early season “cup of coffee” may have been a humbling experience but it was a career changer. Since then, Steel found a way back to fulfilling expectations.
Steel projected as a top-six forward at the start of the season. Now, the Anaheim Ducks’ forward still has facets to improve on. He has just four points in 16 games with Anaheim. The experience gained from this season will bode well for his future.
2. Troy Terry, RW/C – Anaheim (NHL), San Diego (AHL)
HT/WT: 6-1/ 174
Drafted: 148th overall in the fifth round of the 2015 draft by Anaheim
The speedy and skilled forward possesses the craftiness of a veteran. Instead of sulking in the minors this year after he was demoted, Terry averaged a point a game for the San Diego Gulls. In the process, he may turn out to be Anaheim’s top prospect.
Terry impressed many in Ducks’ camp with his ability to soak in the game. All anyone could glow about was his elite skating. The playmaking improved even more in his call-up (Terry enjoyed back to back three-point games). Terry expects to see a middle-six role with Anaheim in 2019-20. From there, maybe a top-line role by 2020-21 is not out of the question.
3. Maxime Comtois, LW – Anaheim (NHL), San Diego (AHL), Drummondville (QMJHL)
Draft: 50th overall in the second round of the 2017 draft by Anaheim
Anaheim is loaded with wingers but Comtois blends a nice skill set in a big-framed body. Comtois should be able to progress through the depth chart come next season.
Comtois is a tenacious two-way forward with an ability to excel at every level. He scored five times in five games at the World Junior Championship. Comtois tallied seven points in his first call-up with Anaheim. He has nearly two points a game for Drummondville of the QMJHL. Wherever he goes, the left winger exceeds expectations and is only getting better. Comtois likely will make the Anaheim team out of training camp next season.
4. Antoine Morand, C – Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Drafted: 60th overall in the second round of the 2017 draft by Anaheim
Arguably, Morand is quite the underrated prospect even if he is on a slower development curve. This is his fourth year in the QMJHL and Morand produced three similar seasons. Averaging 1.15-1.2 points per game and displaying good fundamentals should allow Morand to take the next step to San Diego next season.
His upside is that of a middle-six center. That may become higher but based on what has been seen, Morand must work on spacing at the next level and pace. The AHL will be a considerable step up from the QMJHL where he played on a championship caliber team at Acadie-Bathurst Titan before moving on to Halifax. 2019-20 will be a pivotal year in his development.
5. Max Jones, LW – San Diego (AHL), Anaheim (NHL)
Drafted: 16th overall in the first round of the 2016 draft by Anaheim
The forward played three full seasons in the OHL with London and then Kingston but then enjoyed success in San Diego. His 28 points in 40 games earned him another chance in Anaheim with limited numbers (2 points in 18 games).
Therefore, at what point does he get sent back down for the season? Does Bob Murray keep him up to gain experience or should he rack up more playing time in San Diego? This is not the only Ducks prospect Murray faces this dilemma with. Jones will have every shot in training camp to make Anaheim in 2019-20. The skill set is very much there in flashes, even with the Ducks.
6. Josh Mahura, D – San Diego (AHL), Anaheim (NHL)
Drafted: 85th overall in the third round of the 2016 draft by Anaheim
Mahura is known more like a defensive defenseman, and yet his offense is a bit underrated. Mahura averaged a point every other game in San Diego this season. Also, the defenseman shows an ability to play on the power play occasionally.
He has a few regular season games in San Diego but notes that he had three points in his final five games with Anaheim in January. That could be a harbinger of things to come as the 2019-20 season approaches. Mahura expects to make the Anaheim club.
7. Jacob Larsson, D – Anaheim (NHL), San Diego (AHL)
Drafted: 27th overall in the first round of the 2015 draft by Anaheim
Another riser in the Ducks pipeline appears to be Larsson. His play impressed many in Anaheim so much that he stuck around with the Ducks. Larsson was sent down a couple of times to San Diego but was recently called up last week. His skating ability directly led to two goals (both assists) against Montreal and the result was a bump up in ice time against Los Angeles (career-high 21:43).
Larsson must improve his ability to move without the puck at the NHL level and find better release angles for his shot. The playmaking comes and goes but again, he is still just 21. Expectations should be raised for the 2019-20 campaign.
8. Kiefer Sherwood, LW – San Diego (AHL), Anaheim (NHL)
After not being drafted, Sherwood went the college route and was rewarded with an entry-level deal by the Anaheim Ducks. His hard-nosed play earned him a call-up with the big club.
Unfortunately, Sherwood saw a lot of fourth-line ice time with Anaheim which masked some of his abilities but exposed some deficiencies too. Getting more ice time in San Diego has boosted his confidence as he has 13 points in 21 games.
9. Kalle Kossila, C/LW – San Diego (AHL), Anaheim (NHL)
Anaheim was questioned a bit for signing Kossila as he was a bit underweight at the time. However, he showed quickly that the forward could play well in San Diego. Kossila enjoyed increasing production in his three seasons there. He averages nearly a point a game now.
While he may never reach a top-six role with Anaheim, Kossila should be able to thrive in the bottom-six role providing some occasional offense. The only concern is can he improve enough defensively. His two limited trips up to Anaheim have shown flashes of offense but some ghastly mistakes on the other end. When he was sent down after Thanksgiving, one of the major red flags was discipline.
Some have suggested Anaheim part ways with the forward but that may be premature. Kossila carries a solid role in the organization and though he has been passed by others is still serviceable. The question is what kind of role can he find for himself come 2019-20? His play in San Diego to close out the season will answer those questions.
10. Lukas Dostal, G – HC Kometa Brno (Czech)
Drafted: 85th overall in the third round of the 2018 draft by Anaheim
Dostal finds a way to make saves that most goalies do not make. His appearance at the 2019 World Juniors was a coming-out party of sorts. His four-game run featured a 1.25 goals-against average and .957 save percentage. Though he has not found similar success with his hometown Czech team in Brno, Dostal has not been awful either.
The goaltender is a long-term project as far as Anaheim is concerned. There is potential but that may not be seen for 3-5 years. Furthermore, patience is key here. Dostal and even Olie Eriksson Ek will need time to see which one works out better for Anaheim.