In the moments before the entry draft, Anaheim made sure everyone had all eyes on the West- in exchange for Nick Bonino, Luca Sbisa, and both this weekend’s 24th and 85th overall picks, the Ducks picked up Vancouver forward Ryan Kesler. They get an A, though, for what they did after that- using the tenth overall pick, which they had acquired from Ottowa in a trade last July, they picked up 6 foot 3 powerhouse Nick Ritchie of the MHA Toronto Marlboros. Not only is Ritchie big and intimidating, which fits well with the aggressive team Anaheim has been amassing, but he has the quick feet and effective shot that many of the bigger guys don’t possess.
Following their first two big moves, Anaheim drafted back to back two-way defensemen, picking up Marcus Pettersson and Brandon Montour at the tail end of two impressive seasons in junior.For a team aiming to become tougher to play against, the Ducks walked away with exactly what they came for. In addition, they got an absolute steal with Ondrej Kase; the forward was projected to go in the 3rd round, but fell to the 7th. The Ducks will love this kid, especially if he develops into the kind of value pick that teams dream about.
New York Islanders
The Islanders have made some questionable choices over the years (read up on the DiPietro buyout, if you need clarification on this), but I thought they made a solid showing at the draft. They had two first-round draft picks- the fifth overall, and the 28th overall, which they had acquired from the Rangers via a trade with Tampa Bay- and boy, did they make them count. Michael Dal Colle is a strong, confident looking left winger, and wild card Joshua Ho-Sang could be the firecracker that the Isles need to start competing in the East again. A lot of teams had talked about getting a second first-round pick, and the Islanders are a perfect example of what that could have meant.
Another team with two first-round picks were the Canucks, and were they ever on fire. Of all the teams currently undergoing a rebuild, Vancouver pulled in the greatest motherload at this particular entry draft. Both the sixth overall pick and the twenty-fourth overall yielded phenomenal offensive talent. Canadian native Jake Virtanen is a former teammate of Travis Sanheim from the Calgary Hitmen, and Jared McCann finished his last season with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds with a whopping 27 goals and 35 assists in 64 games.
Probably the biggest gem snatched up by Vancouver, though, was Boston College goaltender Thatcher Demko. The American goalie was the second netminder to be selected in the entry draft, and was the first American of his position to be selected. With a save percentage never dropping below a .899 in the past five years, this butterfly-style goalie played for the L.A. Junior Kings before signing with Boston College this past fall. He has modeled his goalkeeping style after Jonathan Quick- and for those who haven’t been paying attention, that’s a pretty good thing.