Top Shelf Prospects: Anaheim Ducks
Today we are happy and proud to bring you something new here at Last Word on Sports, as it is the official launch of my new blog “Top Shelf Prospects.” For the rest of the summer I will be taking a daily look at the top 2 or 3 prospects for each NHL team. Since we had an extensive NHL Draft preview, I will not be reviewing the players who were drafted in the 2012 draft, as there have been no games since the draft, and my reports on them will not have changed. What I will be doing is linking you to those articles, as well as taking a look at prospects that were acquired before this year’s draft; their progress, and their chances of making the 2012-13 roster of the NHL team in question. We will go team by team with the hope to look at the top 2 or 3 players per club.
So without Further ado, lets get started with the Anaheim Ducks.
Top Prospect: Kyle Palmieri, Right Wing
Born Feb 1 1991 — Smithtown, NY
Height 5.11 — Weight 193 — Shoots R;
Drafted 26th overall by Anaheim in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft
Kyle Palmeiri has proven to be an offensive force in the AHL. His powerful wrist shot and good release are NHL ready. The puck leaves his stick in a hurry, and with great velocity and accuracy. This handcuffs goalies at the AHL level, and has turned Palmieri into a sniper at the pro level. His one-timer is also a sight to behold, and lethal on the power play. He also has excellent puck control, and good stickhandling ability. He protects the puck well, and is a good passer with decent vision. He is effective working down low and cycling the puck with teammates to create scoring chances.
Palmieri is an excellent skater. He has great top end speed and excellent acceleration. He uses his edges extremely well, and is shifty and hard to contain. He also has excellent agility and is strong on his skates, showing good balance. Palmieri uses this speed in two ways. Firstly, he is extremely dangerous in transition and scores many points off the rush. Secondly despite his limited size, Palmieri is a weapon on the boards. He is missle like in his ability to get in quick on the forecheck and hammer a defenceman going back to retrieve the puck. He also wins a ton of puck battles, and plays much bigger than his stats for heigh and weight would have you believe.
Palmieri is knocking on the door of the NHL and threatening to break the thing down. With 33 goals and 58 points in just 51 AHL games last season for the Syracuse Crunch, he is extremely close to being NHL ready. As a future top 6 Right Wing, the only difficulty Palmieri faces at this point, is the fact that he is behind 2011 Hart Trophy and Rocket Richard Trophy winner Corey Perry, and NHL legend Teemu Selanne, at RW on the Ducks depth chart. However Palmieri has the grit and tenacity to fit in on an NHL third line, and I think that if he has a good training camp, he should start in that spot, and be groomed by the Ducks to be Selanne’s eventual replacement in the top 6.
Emerson Etem, RW/C,
Born Jun 16 1992 — Long Beach, CA
Height 6.00 — Weight 194 — Shoots Right
Drafted 29th Overall by Anaheim in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft
Emerson Etem absolutely destroyed the WHL this past season, scoring 61 goals in just 65 games. Etem is an absolute speedster, who blows by opponents and has NHL level skating ability right now. His sharp, quick cuts and outstanding acceleration make him near impossible to contain off the rush. Etem uses this speed to create quick transition offence, and his quick feet and great anticipation make for excellent defensive play as well. Etem has been one of the best Penalty Killers in the WHL over the last two seasons, and is always a threat to score short handed.
His shot is greatly improved from when he was drafted. It is not quite as good as Palmieri’s right now, but is still hard and accurate. He has a good, but not great release at this point. However given the improvements he has made so far, it would not be a shock to see it continue to get better. Etem is a good but not great stickhandler. He doesn’t use a lot of fancy moves to create offense and has been dominating WHL defenders on pure speed. He’ll need to add a little more finesse to his arsenal at the AHL level before he’s ready to make it to the show.
A California boy, Etem will be a marketting dream for the Anaheim Ducks. He is definitely progressing and looking like he may be able to become a future top line forward at the NHL level. However coming out of the WHL, with no pro experience, Etem is still in need of further development at the AHL level before he’s ready to join the Ducks. Expect to see him start the season in Norfolk, with Anaheim keeping a very close eye on his progression.
The Ducks future at forward is bright with these two young men, along with Peter Holland, Devante Smith-Pelley, and Rickard Rackell in the system. With two young stud defencemen at the NHL level in Cam Fowler, and Luca Sbisa, along with top Draft Pick Hampus Lindholm, they are also well stocked on the blue line. John Gibson gives the team a future goaltending prospect in the system. The future is bright in Anaheim, and after a disappointing year in 2011-12, it won’t be long before the Ducks fly again.
Edit: Special Sleeper Prospect
Ed Lopaz from hockey inside/out suggested the following additon to my prospect reports, and I’ve decided it was a good idea and to oblige him for this request. A special sleeper prospect, one player taken in the 4th round or later, or an unsigned free agent prospect who I like.
Max Friberg, Left Wing
Born Nov 20 1992
Height 5.10 — Weight 194 — Shoots R
Selected in the fifth round, 143rd overall in the 2011 Entry Draft
Max Friberg led team Sweden with 9 goals at the 2012 World Junior Championships and helped the team win the Gold Medal. An effective and gritty two way winger, Friberg battles on the boards and backchecks hard. He is absolutely tenacious in all zones and always right in the middle of the action. He has very good skating ability and excellent offensive instincts, including a very accurate shot and quick release. He has outstanding hockey sense, and is able to find openings in the defence to set up his shot. Look for Friberg as a winger who could exceed expectations going forward.+
Overall, with Kyle Palmieri, Emerson Etem, Peter Holland, Devante Smith-Pelly, Rickard Rakell, Max Friberg, Nick Kerdiles, and Kevin Roy the Ducks feature a very deep forward group amongst their prospects. Hampus Lindholm was a very good pick and and is a solid defence prospect who helps to fill that need. Sami Vatanen is undersized but has lit up the Finnish League in recent years, he should help fill that void, but overall more defencemen are needed. The need for young defencemen is mitigated somewhat with Cam Fowler and Luca Sbisa already in the NHL, but the team lacks physical defensive dmen. John Gibson provides a quality goaltending prospect. The Ducks are definitely a very deep system, but they do lack an elite talent.
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