2015 Mid-Season Prospect Breakdown and Review
Anaheim has put together one of the deepest prospect pools in the NHL in the past few drafts. Not only have they found great players in the early rounds, they have got great value out of their later round picks. Sami Vatanen (D) 4th Rd. is a great example, as he has provided quality minutes on a blue line that was very crowded going into training camp. They have been able to fill holes left by free agency or Injury with minimum cap liability by bringing players up from the minors that provide some solid play. The one hole Anaheim did fill via trade was bringing in Ryan Kesler as their 2nd line center in a trade from Vancouver. Having a strong prospect pool was key to getting Kesler from Vancouver, providing Vancouver with NHL ready players Nick Bonino(C, W) and Luca Sbisa (D) with relatively low cap liability. Halfway through the 14-15 NHL season there seems to be few weaknesses in the Ducks Roster however if they feel they need to add a piece at the trade deadline they certainly have the prospect depth that will attract a lot of teams interest. Listed below are a few key prospects in the Anaheim system and how they fit into the Ducks Organization in the near future.
Nick Ritchie (LW) 6’3” 220LBS (25-14-18-32) Peterborough (OHL) 1st Round 10th Overall, 2014
Ritchie is a strong Power forward left Winger with good skill, which fits right into Anaheim’s current style of play. Has an elite release and isn’t afraid to play a gritty physical game. Has showed he has the ability to move up or down the lineup at this year’s World Junior Championship where he played both on the top lines as well as in a checking role for Team Canada. Ritchie has above average skating ability, especially for a player his size which is a key to his ultimate success in Anaheim. If there is a knock on Ritchie up to this point is his consistency from game to game, however that has been seen as improving this season as well. Ritchie is currently in his final season of junior hockey in Peterborough, and giving Anaheim’s history with prospects he will likely start next season in Norfolk (AHL) however his game doesn’t seem far off from making the NHL roster, especially giving his ability to play up and down the roster and play different roles.
Shea Theodore (D) 6’2” 180LBS (10-2-6-8) Seattle (WHL) 1st Round, 26th Overall, 2013
Shea Theodore was widely regarded as the most offensively talented defenseman available in the 2013 NHL Draft, ultimately his judgment with the puck and play in his own end saw him fall to later in the first round behind more well rounded defenseman like Seth Jones and Darnell Nurse. His skating ability, puck moving and first pass ability are at an elite level which was enough for Anaheim to take him in the first round. While offensive defenseman are not a shortage in the Anaheim system, if his complete game comes together he could turn out to be an elite defenseman in the NHL. Theodore’s defensive game has stabilized this season on an improved Seattle Thunderbirds roster. He started the season by playing 5 games for Norfolk (AHL) (2-3-5) then being sent back to Seattle of the (WHL) and ultimately making Canada’s World Junior team. With the depth currently in front of him on the Ducks Roster, Anaheim can take their time with Theodore, allowing him to develop a complete game before seeing a shot at NHL minutes. While I don’t believe Shea Theodore is a piece Anaheim will be actively looking to trade, he could gain a lot of interest from a team looking to rebuild. He is a very coachable player who has a very high ceiling.
Nic Kerdiles (LW) 6’1” 196LBS (33-6-12-18) Norfolk (AHL) 2nd Round, 36th Overall, 2012
Nic Kerdiles is a strong 2-way forward with good finishing ability. Plays a north/south game with speed. Has always been a mature player who put as much effort into the play at both ends of the rink. He will go to the dirty areas to score goals. His playmaking ability may be his biggest growth in his game, has improved his ability to slow the play down and find the open guy when it’s needed. Kerdiles is currently seeing time on a line with former NHLer Dany Heatley in Norfolk. Many believe Kerdiles is just an injury or two away in Anaheim from seeing NHL action; however he did not see a call up while the Mumps was going through the Ducks dressing room and Corey Perry was out with a knee Injury. While Kerdiles has shown he may be ready to see some NHL action, playing in Norfolk is not going to hinder his development in anyway.