Starting off this 31-team series, we will break down the future of NHL defensive cores. An important note is that we will be selecting defenceman at the age of 27 or younger. The Anaheim Ducks have been in the league’s basement for the past few seasons, but what does the future hold for the blue line in the next five years?
The Future of the Anaheim Ducks Defence Future
Hampus Lindholm (Age: 26)
Drafted sixth-Overall in the 2012 NHL entry draft, the Swedish Defender is one of the top puck-movers in the Anaheim Ducks defence system. The two-way defenceman excels in his skating, elite passing level, and his intelligent reads of the game. Hampus Lindholm has developed a solid defensive game, making him useful in all areas on the ice. Lindholm has a current cap hit of $5.2 million dollars through the 21-22 season. Overall, Lindholm can showcase his abilities in every zone on the ice, making him an effective 200-foot player. Lindholm will continue to play on Anaheim’s top pairing for years to come.
Jamie Drysdale (Age: 18)
The Ducks highest selection from the 2020 draft, Jamie Drysdale was picked sixth-overall. The Canadian defender is confident with the puck and displays effectiveness in his transitional play. Drysdale is an offensive-minded defenceman with elite skating, making him a great power play quarterback. Despite being an offensive-defencemen, Drysdale also has that two-way awareness to his game. The young blue liner recorded two assists in seven World Juniors games, helping Canada capture the Silver. Drysdale has already signed a three-year entry level contract with Ducks. He is expected to return to his Junior OHL club, the Erie Otters. Drysdale has No. 1 defenceman upside and could potentially become the best from his draft class.
Josh Mahura (Age: 22)
Josh Mahura was selected 85th overall in the 2016 NHL draft. Although he lacks strength, Mahura displays top-four upside. He’s a great puck-mover and skilled defenceman that can join the play. Mahura also displays a great ability to get in-front of the puck and block shots. Mahura will play the 2020-21 season with the Duck’s AHL affiliate, San Diego Gulls. He will be a good unit-two power-play quarterback, and a solid 2nd pairing defenceman for the Ducks. He can play really aggressive in the offensive zone, as long as he’s paired with a stay at home guy.
Brendan Guhle (Age: 23)
Brendan Guhle was acquired via trade from the Buffalo Sabres. He was part of a package that sent Brandon Montour to the Buffalo Sabres. Guhle was originally selected 51st overall in the 2015 NHL entry draft by the Sabres. The Canadian defenceman plays big with great physical attributes. He has solid positioning, making him a shut down guy against other team’s top lines. He has third-pairing upside, possessing great poise with the puck. Guhle is currently on long-term injured reserve but should rival an NHL-role when he gets healthy.
Jacob Larsson (Age: 23)
Jacob Larsson was selected in the first round of a stacked 2015 NHL entry draft. The Swedish defenceman was picked 27th overall by the Anaheim Ducks. Larsson put together another good training camp, cracking the Ducks lineup again for the 20-21 NHL season. He is currently playing on Anaheim’s third-pairing to start the season, recording an assist in his first 2 games. Larsson is a solid playmaking defenceman, with middle-pairing upside. Larsson recently signed a two-year extension worth $2.4 million back in August. He needs to round out his defensive game, but Larsson will be a good piece of the Duck’s blue line for years to come.
Jackson LaCombe (Age: 20)
The American defenceman was picked 39th overall by Anaheim in the 2019 NHL entry draft. Jackson LaCombe helped the United States capture Gold in the World Juniors, recording an assist in six games. Originally a forward, Lacombe was turned into a defenceman to see the game from the back end. He has explosive wheels and can make a great first outlet pass on a breakout. He excels with great puck skills, and is another candidate for the Ducks powerplay unit. His skating allows him to control the game flow. LaCombe will most likely slot on the Duck’s second or third pairing in the future.
Lindholm – Drysdale
Mahura – Guhle
LaCombe – Larsson
This is a potential look at the team’s future defence, built out of their under-27 names. Overall, the Anaheim Ducks defence definitely have a bright future. A concern with the Ducks core is having a surplus of left-handed offensive defenceman. Almost everyone in this projected lineup has a similar playing style, outside of Lindholm and Guhle. If the Ducks could maybe add one more stay at home defender, this could be a dangerous core for the upcoming years.