Report Card: The 2011 NHL Entry Draft

The Ducks had the tough task of trying to top last year’s impressive draft in which they selected Cam Fowler, Emerson Etem, and Devante Smith-Pelly, among others.

In this Report Card we take a look at how the Ducks did, including trade value, fulfilling needs, and prospect evaluation.

Evaluation Of Trades
Anaheim started the draft with only five picks but were able to acquire two more.  By trading down from 22nd to 30th, they added the 39th pick to their collection.   There were still some desirable names available at the 22nd pick, including LW Matt Puempel, D Stuart Percy, and RW Tyler Biggs, who was eventually taken by Toronto with that very same pick.  However, the Ducks were still able to select Rickard Rakell at the 30th position and added John Gibson nine picks later.

Without any picks in the 4th, 6th, and 7th rounds, GM Bob Murray acquired Toronto’s 6th round pick for Anaheim’s 6th round pick in 2012.  This one is hard to judge at this time because late-round draft picks are often crap-shoots.   A 6th rounder for a 6th rounder should be an even trade, unless one team lucks out with a diamond in the rough.  Murray at least added some size on the back end with 6’3″ defenseman Josh Manson.
Grade: B+


Fulfilling Team Needs
The Ducks’ biggest hole seems to be net. After Jonas Hiller (and who knows what his status is at this point), the only other signed goalie who is NHL-ready is Dan Ellis.  Timo Pielmeier and J-P Levasseur struggled in a difficult season with Syracuse last year and seem far from being NHL-ready.  Igor Bobkov has plenty of size and upside, but still seems very raw and could use a few more years in Junior or the AHL.  Little is known about Iiro Tarkki other than he posted solid stats in the Finnish Elite League.

By drafting John Gibson, the Ducks added the top-ranked North American goalie of the draft class and immediately instills confidence in our goalie depth.  Gibson is likely still a few years away from NHL action, but he provides insurance in case Pielmeier or Bobkov don’t work out.

Anaheim’s defensive future is looking bright as Cam Fowler and Luca Sbisa shone this season.  They are only 19 and 21 years old, respectively, so there is plenty of time and room for them to grow.  In addition to these two young regulars, Justin Schultz and Sami Vatanen are showing incredible promise on their respective teams.  Murray did well to add some size and grit with Manson and 3rd round pick Andy Welinski.

Anaheim seemingly has a comfortable amount of forward talent, boasting prospects such as Emerson Etem, Kyle Palmieri, Peter Holland, Nick Bonino, and Devante Smith-Pelly.  This year’s forward draft picks should round out that talent with defensive responsibility and grit.
Grade: A


Prospect Evaluation
The highest-regarded prospect of the Ducks’ 2011 draft picks is goalie John Gibson.  Being the #1-ranked goalie in North America will put a lot of pressure on Gibson from fans and management alike, so it will be interesting to see how he handles it.  He will be playing in the NCAA next year, which provides a much shorter schedule and a lower level of competition compared to juniors.  This may not be ideal in terms of skill development, but if he shines at the University of Michigan it could do wonders for his confidence as he makes his way towards the NHL.

Rakell and C Joseph Cramarossa are the next two prospects to be most excited about, as they provide solid depth forwards for the club.  Rakell will provide defensive assurance as well as some offensive talent.  Cramarossa will provide a similar game as his Mississauga teammate and fellow Ducks prospect Devante Smith-Pelly.  They both play high-energy, hard-hitting hockey that fans enjoy.  His rugged game will provide space and protection for his linemates.  William Karlsson provides yet another talented center for the Ducks, and Max Friberg adds talent on the left side, and it never hurts to have too much talent waiting to get onto the big club.

Defensemen Andy Welinksi and Josh Manson are two large-bodied skaters that look to add some muscle in the defensive zone.  They are both slated to play in college next year and will likely require some time before they make the leap to the NHL.

Other than Gibson, there is not much standout talent in this year’s crop of draft picks.  Of course, this post was written with limited information on the players.  I look forward to seeing how they perform with my own eyes when they come to Anaheim for conditioning camp later this week.
Grade: B-


Overall, the Ducks did well to address their needs, even though they were unable to acquire some of the higher-end talent that was available early in the draft.  Each of their picks solidified the organization’s depth in each area of the ice, providing confidence in the club as we look towards the future.
Overall Grade: B


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