Saturday, September 18, 2010

Training Camp Preview

Saturday September 18th marks the return of hockey to Anaheim, as the Ducks will take part in the first day of training camp. It means fall is almost here, the exhibition season is only a couple days away, and there will be alot of battles for roster spots taking place.

First before we get into that, let me link you to the training camp roster
44 players will participate in camp
25 Forwards
14 Defencemen
5 Goalies

Also for reference here's a link to all players under contract, this is important because the Ducks are sitting on the NHL's 50 contract limit.

This is important because the Ducks have invited two players, Stephane Velleux and Joe DiPenta. DiPenta is not expected to make the team, but Velleux I believe has an excellent shot as the Ducks lack quality penalty killers and energy type guys for the bottom 6.

Now whos roster spot will he be after you say? Well let's begin eliminating players.

Ryan, Getzlaf, Selanne, Perry, Koivu are all locks for making the team.
Blake, and Marchant are also good bets, Blake could still be traded but it seems unlikely.
Chipchura seemed to solidify a spot at the end of last season, Aaron Voros was acquired to add some much needed size so they appear to have good shots at cracking the roster.

So that's 9 guys right there. Matt Beleskey was just rewarded with a 2 year extension and played very well last year, he has to have an inside track on spot number 10. George Parros is assured of a roster spot, so that's 11.

That means a bunch of guys will be fighting for 2 or 3 positions. Troy Bodie did a lot last year to make a case for making this years team. So did Dan Sexton but he will not be on the team in a defensive role, if the Ducks go to 3 scoring lines, then he has a very good chance of playing on opening night.

One player to watch for will be Brandon McMillan, nobody is talking about him but he plays the type of game that could get him in the pros sooner rather than later. He's a speedy player with a high hockey IQ and decent hands. He may not be big enough yet but he caught my eye at the rookie tournament, remember everyone the ducks badly need to improve their penalty killing and he's a kid who could really help in that area. Nicolas Deschamps is also a guy with a lot of two way upside but I do not think his game is refined as McMillans at this time.

Nick Bonino got a look last year but he needs some seasoning still, he has good size and talent level but needs to either get faster, or get stronger(optimally both) before he becomes an impact player at this level.

Peter Holland, Devante Smith-Pelley, Emerson Etem, and Kyle Palmieri are not expected to seriously challenge for roster spots, though I'd say of the 4 Palmieri has the best shot because he is a truly skilled offensive player with top end skating ability who isn't afraid to muck it up, if he has a good camp the Ducks have the option of sending him to the AHL, instead of the OHL where he is eligible to play as well.

Bob Murray also went on record Friday stating Bobby Ryan will see some time at center which hints at an attempt to create 3 scoring lines. I am not a fan of this personally and don't see it lasting very long so in my attempt to project the forward group he is staying at wing but at the same time the ducks lack the components for a true checking line so I can see the logic behind this.

ADUS Projected forwards:
Getzlaf, Perry, Ryan, Koivu, Selanne, Blake, Marchant, Chipchura, Beleskey, Parros, Voros, Velluex, Bodie, Carter

Part two, I will be projecting the goalies and defensemen

Monday, September 13, 2010

Are you an expert? Prospect Scrimmage edition part 2

I've decided to split up the blogs as I went a little long on the first one, now let's dive in to some other players.

2010 Second Round Pick, 42nd Overall, Forward Devante Smith-Pelley
The first thing I want to say about this guy is that I've seen a lot of Wayne Simmonds comparisons online, and quite frankly I think it's mainly because they share the same skin color, how they play the game is not the same.

DSP is like a bowling ball out there. He's a wide body with a low center of gravity, he plays physical, he's a nuisance around the net and will do what it takes to win. I think his puck skills are better than that of Wayne Simmonds, he scored a nice wrist shot goal. if I were going to compare him to a player of the same race, it'd be Dustin Byfuglien albiet a smaller version, only that DSP does not have a mediocre work ethic.

This is the type of player this team has been lacking in the system lately. He can play any role, he's yet another player that could be a future member of the Getzlaf line as the skill set really meshes with how Perry and Getzlaf play. He plays on a jr team that's expected to be really good this year, we'll get a great idea about his future in 6-8 months.


Jake Newton, Defensemen
After Fowler, i'd say the defender that has impressed me the most is Jake Newton. The raw talent is immense, he's got exceptional size and can really play with the puck. He scored on a power play from the top of the point on a well placed wrist shot that had some zip on it. He is a late bloomer and it's been said he has first round talent. The Socal Native really opened eyes last year in the NCAA and the Ducks were extremely happy to nab him up. He is not far away from playing in the NHL. Newton needs seasoning but he's going to push Mikkelson, Festerling, etc for a spot very soon. For a 6'3 210 pound defensemen it's rare to find his array of skills he's one to watch for sure.

Peter Holland
When I read reports on Holland it's a mixed bag, in my personal opinion I don't understand why. He was drafted as a project, he does need to get stronger his frame can support atleast 215 pounds. What I watch for is talent, does he have it? Unquestionably so, on the Power Play he loves to play the Getzlaf type game off the wall rotating around and passing to teammates. His first shift of the Calgary scrimmage he set the tone, he was cycling, attacking the puck and trying to make plays. For him to be successful chemistry with linemates is a HUGE HUGE deal, because he sees the game differently and has alot of confidence in his ability to make plays. A tournament like this won't fully showcase his talent, I look for him to have a huge year in the OHL and force his way onto team Canada.

Part 3, coming tomorrow with thoughts on Palmieri, Bonino, McMillan, and Clark amongst others

Are you an expert? Prospect Scrimmage edition

To start off my return to the blogworld, let me post a video of New Ducks defensemen Andy Sutton

Am I an expert? The answer is no, these are just my opinions and should be taken for what they're anonymous blogger posting about hockey, now I know what you're thinking, that other anonymous blogger is a running joke around hockey message boards, and websites everywhere. So don't worry guys you won't be getting any "Bobby Ryan to the L3@fz!!!1" posts from me.

Now onto Business.

Anaheim Ducks prospects have taken to the ice for the Pentincton Rookie Tournament hosted by the Vancouver Canucks, which is a real coup for the Ducks to be invited in, over the past few years Anaheim has participated in half assed scrimmages with Sharks prospect. This is a big upgrade in competition level.

The Ducks have lost their first two games, but honestly that doesn't really matter. Let's put this into context folks, this is the first time these players have played any competitive hockey in several months. Some players will be ahead of the curve and some will be behind. With that said, let's talk prospects!

2010 First Round Picks

Cam Fowler, Defenseman 2010 first round pick, 12th overall
When Cam Fowler fell all the way to the 12th pick in Junes draft, the Ducks did not hesitate to swoop him up. It has been rumored Phoenix wanted to make a deal with the Ducks to grab the American defenseman. Anaheim of course said "NO" and the rest is history. There are many split opinions on Fowler as to why he dropped so far when a year ago at this time he was getting some hype as possibly being the first pick in the draft. Whatever your opinion is, the fact of the matter is this, winning follows this guy.

In the last year and a half Cam Fowler has been apart of 3 Major championship teams.
The first being at the 2009 IIHF Under 18 Tournament.

This was the start of a great year for USA hockey, The Americans were dominant in the medal rounds of the tournament taking out 3 traditional Power Houses, The Czechs, the Canadians, and Russians by a combined score of 12-3. Cam Fowler was a gigantic part of the outcome and was named the Top Defenseman and also named to the tournament all star team.

Then we hit January, where Fowler was named to the American Under 20 squad for the World Junior Championships in Saskatoon. Fowler once again was a big part of the team, playing in team USA's top 4 and tasked with more of a defensive role, which he excelled in, especially against Canada and Taylor Hall. Hall had 3 points total in 2 games but when you watch the video of his points You cannot fault Fowler for a single one. Halls only goal was because of a terrible mishap by American Goalie Mike Lee, who was eventually benched for Jack Campbell. the two assists? Secondary assists and Fowler wasn't on the ice for one of them. Team USA went on to win Gold and at that time there was no negativity at all around him, the reviews were all very positive.

Fowler went Back to his Junior team afterwords and had a strong second half to help the Windsor Spitfires win the Memorial Cup, Where he played his best hockey it seems to be a trend with this guy.

The criticisms to me, came out of nowhere I didn't read much at all except for Kyle Woodlief of the Red Line Report, and to his credit he was consistent all year long with his critiques of this years D class. It seems to me after Fowler went 12th alot of people jumped on that bandwagon. What people forget is the fact that the selection of Ryan Johansen at 4th overall really threw the draft off, Bob Murray is even quoted as saying this. There was a run of forwards from picks 4-9 and this worked to Anaheims advantage. this does not mean teams did not think highly of Fowler, after the top 2 alot of teams viewed the draft differently from 3 on down. He could have easily been top 5 on every teams board that passed on him, we know he was No.3 on Anaheims.

He has work to do, he's 19 years old. He has to fill out his frame, he's not a small kid he's 6'2 190 pounds once this guy gets in shape and jumps up to 210 pounds he'll be able to handle the physicality aspect of the game much better. Defensively I don't personally see a lot of flaws, he uses his skating and stick to his advantage and plays angles very well we saw this in Mondays game against the Flames, he single handedly broke up a 3 on 2 with his skating, his stick, and the angle he took. These are things that are hard to teach, and to me it shows he has a mind for the position.

It's just one play, but there are others, on one occasion on a Power Play there was a loose puck coming his way, a defender was charging at him, he calmy skated backward, quickly controlled the puck and made a accurate strike to Emerson Etem who generated a scoring chance out of it. This is the EXACT opposite of how Former Ducks defensemen Ryan Whitney would handle the same play, so in that regard I'm not worried about him turning into that kind of player.

Several times in the defensive zone he'd have the puck, get pressured and simply skate with it, you know who was the master at that? Scott Niedermayer. He does not panic at all with the puck and he makes great outlet passes. On the PowerPlay I thought he did a really nice job of Quarterbacking the unit. He does not force anything, he takes what the defense gives him, as a result he generated a goal with another Niedermayer type play....Wristing the puck on the Power Play with traffic. It hit a stick and went in the net. Some guys think shooting the puck harder is better, that's not always the case, on a team like the Ducks this type of play works very well, it gives someone like Corey Perry time to angle his stick properly for a deflection.

Overall I thought Fowler played very well most of the game, but showed some fatigue from the b2b situation, which is why we saw him less in the 3rd period. Conditioning is the major issue right now, Sean Skahan will take care of him.

2010 First Round Pick, 29th overall, Forward Emerson Etem

Let's get right to business on Etem. He's a project, everyone needs to be patient with him, the reason he fell in the draft is because teams didn't want to wait 3 years before he could play in the NHL. He scored 37 goals as a rookie in the WHL last year, which is not easy to do, he has alot of raw talent with his blazing speed, wrist shot and hands within 5-10 feet of the net. He needs to get stronger, he needs to trust his teammates more, but I thought tonight we saw some flashes of what he can do, find open seems in the ice and create 1 on 1 and break away chances. Give him time Duck fans, he's an exceptionally hard worker for that reason I believe he will significantly improve over the next couple of years.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thoughts on Peter Holland and Luca Sbisa

Hey all just wanted to post some info on Peter Holland and Luca Sbisa who are both making news

Peter Holland had just a dreadful start due to a combination of injuries and lack of chemistry with linemates.

Prior to the new year he had 8 goals and 18 assists for 26 points and a -17 through 27 games

Since then he has 17 goals, 22 assists for 39 points in 23 games and is a +5 in that time period

I emailed Tony Saxon of the Guelph Mercury news a few weeks ago and here's what he had to say:
Good to hear from you.

Peter had an awful start, as did the rest of the team. Lot of injuries to team, lot of line juggling. Now the lines are set and Peter and Michael Latta have really become a powerful duo.

Peter has an excellent shot, he just wasn’t using it often enough. He is a superb skater and very intelligent. While big, he is not overly physical, which is one of the knocks on his game. He turns away from finishing his check too much.

Skill-wise I see Patrick Marleau. Not nearly physical or involved enough physically to be compared to Jeff Carter.

I think Peter plays a cerebral game. Not everyone can look like they’re going hells bells out all the time. I think people misunderstand that as lazy, but I don’t think Peter is lazy, he just has a different style.

as noted previously on this blog people had previously tagged him as lazy but I feel that if you don't watch a player on a regular basis it's easy to think that of certain guys. Scott Niedermayer is a prime example, if you didn't know who he was, watched and watched a few games you could take his effortless style and get the impression he's not playing hard.

He does, he's just a very smart player, and I see the same qualities in Holland, on they show hi lites of every goal and what you can discern is Hollands anticipation especially defensively. He doesn't waste movement, everything he does you could say is calculated or has a purpose. His hands are sick, I see some Getzlaf in this guy in terms of having a dynamite shot, but is a pass first type that's that sees the ice very well. The main differences are he's not a power forward like Getzlaf and skates better, the Marleau comparison was very adept by Saxon, though I think being a Jeff Carter type is not out of the question if he continues to shoot the puck more.

The Ducks did their homework, I think Holland is putting to bed alot of the concerns that were out there and due to his size(6'3, almost 200 lbs) he is not that far away from stepping in. I don't think it'll be next year but if he has an excellent training camp he'll make the ducks give him a look. Most likely he spends another year in Jr, dominates from start to finish and hopefully earns a shot on the Canadian world Jr team.

Luca Sbisa, opened alot of eyes in training camp. He shows flashes of immense talent but correctly, the Ducks sent him to the WHL so he could play 30 minutes a game, kill penalties, qb a PP and so on. If the Olympics are any indication this kid will be ready to assume a major role next season with the Ducks, who are facing the possibility of Scott Niedermayer retiring, and James Wisniewski, likely to be traded within the next 5 months.

His skating is elite, no question but his defensive IQ has really improved leaps and bounds, his positioning and usage of his stick are two things that I noticed improvement on, against the Americans and Team Canada he was playing against elite NHL'ers almost every shift, and not only held his own, but at 19 years old really stood out.

The toughness he showed playing through a broken finger tells me this kid has the mentality to become great, no one would blame him for hitting the showers early but he wanted to help his team WIN. This is what we as Duck fans want...WINNERS, players who don't take shortcuts and who have that compete level to be great.

It is very telling, when a player like Nikita Filatov, who has immense talent, quits on the jackets because he didn't get the ice time he thinks he deserves, did not want to go to the AHL because he thinks he's above it......he went to Russia. He didn't suck it up.

Luca Sbisa, in a similar situation did not complain, he did not sulk, he did not rip Randy Carlyle, he had a good attitude and did what was asked. All these things point to Sbisa being a future no.1 defensemen

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ducks WJC prospect update

hey all i've been waiting for more activity before giving any updates and what better time during the world juniors?

The tournament started this past weekend and several ducks prospects are already making marks in a positive way.

first let me list the players that made their respective teams
Brandon McMillan-CAN
Jake Gardiner-USA
Kyle Palmieri-USA
Igor Bobkov-Russia
Radoslav Illo-Slovakia
Sami Vatanen-Finland
Luca Sbisa-Switzerland

Sbisa played his first game of the tournament against team USA, and he is clearly the best player, he logged huge minutes and made a few attempts at C2C goals as he doesn't have many talented forwards to work with, he has good ideas with playmaking but not the caliber of mates that know what to do in those situations. Don't expect big point numbers but when you watch him you can see at this point he's a level above most other players

Brandon McMillan has had a surprisingly good season and played himself on to Canadas top six, this was a player who went from off the radar to a prominent position. He does a bit of everything, he's a great skater, his hockey sense is well above average,, responsible defensively and is now starting to display an offensive upside nobody knew he had. He reminds you of former Duck Chris Kunitz, with a mix of speed, grit, heart and skill. he had a goal and an assist against Latvia, expect this tournament to springboard his career.

Sami Vatanen, during the summer I was raving about this kid, he has to overcome the size obstacle, but from a pure talent standpoint he is one of the best young defensemen out there. Don't believe me? watch this

also he tested as one of the best conditioned athletes at the draft combine, hes wirey strong and has amazing endurance, I expect Vatanen to possibly be one of the stars of the tournament.

Jake Gardiner, has been slotted in a defensive role, no PP time and basically covering for his young d partners he has done a good job of using his skating and size to protect his side of the ice in the long term this could be great for him, he has struggled through a reported shoulder injury most of the year. His combo of size and speed is very interesting especially as he rounds out his defensive game.

Kyle Palmieri, he is a pure agitator, but with talent, hes physical, fast and good at 1 on 1 battles how much skill does he have? time will tell but he is playing on team USA's top 6 and has 2 assists so far in two games.

Radoslav Illo, Illo like Vatanen could be one of the big surprises of the tourney. being healthy this year and having a really good year in the USHL has led to huge leaps in his development, he has 1 goal and 3 assists in two games so far. He has some grit to go along with an outstanding shot, his slapshot is hard and heavy and is also known to have quite a snap/wrist shot as well. He could emerge from this tourney as a blue chipper.

Igor Bobkov, Russia has played one game, it wasn't of consequence, hard to tell anything at this point

Friday, September 25, 2009

No. 1 Luca Sbisa

1. Luca Sbisa- Sbisa was selected 19th in the 2008 draft. Sbisa is a very good all around player. He does a bit of everything, he can skate, pass, shoot, hit, fight and defend. He’s a player that really broke out in the 2008 WHL playoffs. He’s also blessed with good size at 6’2 190, so obviously he has room to grow into his frame and become a solid 200+ pounder.

He was so impressive at Flyers camp last year, he made the team and played in 39 games. He was later sent back to Lethbridge as the Flyers had a glut of D as well as cap issues so removing his cap number helped. He went on to play over 30 minutes a game back in junior helping his team advance in the playoffs.

Sbisa is expected to make the Ducks right out of camp, many expect him to be paired with Scott Niedermayer, on one hand that’s going to help him learn a lot about what it takes to become a great player. On the other, that means Carlyle is throwing him into the fire against top offensive players. Can he help contain players like Joe Thornton, Pavel Datsyuk and so on? If he can it could accelerate his development, if he can’t….it could stunt his growth. So It’s a bit risky, no doubt but I’ve heard rave reviews about his character.

Sbisa has number 1 type upside with his all around talent and if he can start to excel in a few areas, he could be one of those franchise type D every team craves.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

No.2 Jake Gardiner

Gardiner was drafted as a project he’s a recently converted defensemen who hit a growth spurt over the last year, he went from 6’0 to 6’2 and 187 pounds. If he has another growth spurt we could be talking about a beast of a player. He improved significantly through the course of his freshman season in Wisconsin.

Flat out, he is one of the best skaters I have ever seen and I’ve seen plenty of Scott Niedermayer and Paul Coffey. Ilya Kovalchuk is the only player that I can think of that hits that top gear so fast, he literally gets to it in about 2-3 strides and because he played so much forward he has puck skills a lot of D lack, when you combine these three assets……Size, speed, puck skills you have yourself a player that could be a big time impact player. His defensive abilities have gotten better and I saw some instances where he showed some bite to his game. He had 3 goals and 18 assists for 21 points last year, with Jamie McBain moving on Gardiner is expected to anchor the UW power play, he could have a major increase in production this year.

He could be ready to turn pro after next season but remember he’s in a great program for defensemen so the Ducks could keep him there longer, but I think they really want to get him into a pro camp and see how he stacks up, he should make the US WJC U20 team this year, he drew rave reviews from the recent camp.

Gardiner is a boom or bust type of player but he could always possibly be switched back to forward, but I doubt it, he seems to be making big improvements on D he could really compliment Luca Sbisa, Ryan Whitney and James Wisniewski in the future.