Welcome to the 2021 Top Shelf Prospects series. As we go through the Summer of 2021 LWOH will be featuring a team-by-team look at the top prospects in the NHL. You can find all the articles here. Since we had an extensive NHL Draft preview, we will not be reviewing the players who were drafted in the 2021 draft, as there have been no games since then, and our reports on them will not have changed. Today, we look at the 2021 Anaheim Ducks Prospects.
What we 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 2021-22 roster of the NHL team in question. We will also bring you one sleeper pick – a player who was either drafted in the 4th-round or later, or was an undrafted free agent signing who we pick as our dark horse to make the NHL. For those wondering, the cut-off for what is or isn’t a prospect is typically about 50 NHL games played (including playoff games) or is 25 years old. These are not hard or fast rules though, and we may make some exceptions depending on the circumstances.
2021 Anaheim Ducks Prospects
The Ducks had another rough season as the team’s rebuild continues. There were some bright spots though. Youngster Max Comtois had a breakout season and led the team in scoring. Meanwhile, a number of young players such as Trevor Zegras, Isac Lundestrom, Sam Steel, Jamie Drysdale, and Troy Terry got significant NHL time and the opportunity to cement their place for future years. While some played better than others, they are all still young and there continues to be room for growth. With another top pick in Mason McTavish in this year’s draft, the Ducks should soon be ready to fly high.
2021 Top Anaheim Ducks Prospect: Trevor Zegras
Centre — shoots Left
Born March 20th, 2001 — Bedford, New York
Height 6’0″ — Weight 170 lbs [183 cm / 77 kg]
Drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the 1st Round, #9 Overall in the 2019 NHL Draft.
Zegras starred at the World Juniors, leading the American team to the Gold Medal. He scored seven goals and 18 points in just seven tournament games. He was named the tournament’s most valuable player. Zegras took that momentum into the AHL season, scoring 10 goals and 21 points in 17 games for the San Diego Gulls. He also added three points in three playoff games. This was enough to earn Zegras a chance in the NHL. He put up three goals and 13 points in 24 games with the Ducks.
Zegras is a very good skater. His speed is very good. However, it is his first-step quickness and acceleration that set him apart. He can use his ability to change speeds to elude defenders and beat them in one-on-one situations. Once he gets a step on a defender he can accelerate to the net. His agility and edgework are elite. Zegras can change directions on a dime and make quick cuts. He has decent balance and can fight through checks at the junior level. He has gotten stronger and is able to get by in this area in the AHL and NHL, but as he matures and gets stronger he will be even better. Once that happens, he will be able to dominate down low at the pro level.
Zegras marries his skating ability with the ability to handle the puck and make plays at top speed. He has very good vision and passing skills, helping him to be a primary playmaker on his line. He also has a high hockey IQ and good vision. Zegras anticipates the movements of his teammates and opponents, allowing him to find the open man and create quality scoring chances. He can make tape-to-tape passes through tight areas as well as make a saucer pass to a teammate. Zegras is especially effective on the power play, where he can run the play from the half-boards.
While best known as a playmaker, he can score goals with soft hands in tight to the net. Zegras has good hand-eye coordination and can tip in shots and pounce on rebounds. His wrist shot has decent strength and is very accurate. He has a quick release and can fool goaltenders. Zegras could use some more muscle on his slap shot. Zegras plays a bit of a perimeter game in the offensive zone though. He could stand to get more involved in the dirty areas of the ice. This may come as he gets stronger.
Zegras works hard in his own end of the ice. He backchecks hard and supports the defence down low. He uses his quickness and an active stick to create turnovers. Once the puck does change possession, he transitions quickly to offence. Zegras has good positioning and seems to always be on the right side of the puck. He is also good in the face-off circle. Zegras isn’t the biggest hitter but is willing to get involved in puck battles and board work in the defensive zone. He also uses his smarts, positioning, and anticipation to be effective in his own end of the rink.
Zegras is likely to continue his rise up the ranks and challenge for the top centre job on the Ducks this season. One of the top prospects in hockey, the sky is the limit for Zegras. The Ducks have a gem here and he shows all the signs of being a future franchise player.
#2 Prospect: Jamie Drysdale
Right Defence — shoots Right
Born April 8th, 2002 — Toronto, Ontario
Height 5’11” — Weight 170 lbs [180 cm/77 kg]
Drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the 1st Round, #6 Overall, at the 2020 NHL Draft
Drysdale was a little bit disappointing at the World Juniors, with just two assists in the seven-game tournament. He helped Canada to win a silver medal but more was expected in his second WJC tournament. However, Drysdale rebounded nicely. He was strong in the AHL with four goals and 10 points in 14 games and two assists in three playoff games. Drysdale also got time in the NHL, putting up three goals and eight points in 24 games.
Drysdale is one of the best skaters on the Ducks and this helps him in both ends of the ice. He has very good speed in both directions, as well as the agility and edgework to make quick pivots and transition from offence to defence and vice-versa. Drysdale’s stride is smooth and powerful, at times it looks like he is gliding above the ice. He could stand to improve his strength though. Increased lower body mass would help to improve his balance and give him more power to fight through checks and win battles on the boards and in front of the net.
Drysdale can rush the puck up the ice, making plays and setting up teammates. Drysdale can use his skating and puckhandling skills to avoid the forecheck and start the transition game. He is very strong in transition, making an excellent first pass to start the rush as well as carrying the puck up the ice himself. He finds open teammates and can set up scoring chances. Drysdale is also good at walking the line in the offensive zone and creating shooting and passing lanes for himself. He can play the role of power-play quarterback. He has excellent vision and passing skills and is able to find open teammates and create scoring chances. Drysdale controls the puck at the line and extends possession. He can also make a quick move to change the angle and create a passing lane.
Drysdale could use some work on his slap shot. While his shot is accurate and he has a knack for keeping it low and on the net, it lacks some power. This is another area that may improve as he gets stronger. His wrist shot is more effective as a weapon. Drysdale likes to sneak down to the top of the faceoff circle and lets off that wrist shot. He also keeps it low, allowing teammates to get in front of the net for screens, deflections and tip-ins.
Drysdale can also get back in his own end and his agility, smarts, and quick stick make him very difficult to beat off the rush. He is a bit undersized and will need to add muscle to his frame over the next several years. This will help him to win battles on the boards and in front of the net. He is not afraid to get involved physically but can be overmatched at times right now. His ability to read the game and cut down passing lanes and create turnovers is his best defensive skill. He combines that with the ability to quickly move the puck out of the defensive zone and transition to offence, which also helps to limit the chances against.
Drysdale looked very good in his cameo with the Ducks last season. He will head to training camp looking to earn a spot on the team again this season. Given his play, he’d really have to regress not to earn the spot, especially given that he would need to go back to junior hockey instead of the AHL if he doesn’t make the team. The Ducks hope that Drysdale can continue to grow and become a number one defender for the team.
#3 Prospect: Mason McTavish
The Ducks drafted McTavish with the 3rd overall pick in this year’s NHL draft. Prior to the draft, we did an in-depth scouting report on McTavish. As no significant games have been played since that report; we will not repeat it. You can check out the report here.
#4 Prospect: Jacob Perreault
Right Wing/Centre — shoots Right
Born April 15th, 2002 — Montreal, Quebec
Height 5’11” — Weight 192 lbs [180 cm / 87 kg]
Drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the 1st Round, 27th Overall at the 2020 NHL Draft
With the OHL season never getting started, Perreault joined the San Diego Gulls in the AHL. The teenage rookie was very impressive, putting up three goals and 17 points in 27 games.
Perreault was one of the best skaters at the 2020 CHL Top Prospects Game, coming in first in multiple events including the forward skate, forward skate with the puck, reaction time, and weave agility with the puck. He was also second or third in a number of other categories.
He is an absolutely elite skater with outstanding speed and acceleration. Perreault has a lightning-quick first step. He also has excellent agility and edgework. Perreault is deadly on the rush and in one-on-one situations. One area that Perreault can improve is his balance. He can be knocked off the puck at times. As he continues to develop, he will need to get stronger in his lower body. This will give him the ability to fight through checks and to be better in battles along the boards.
Perreault is a dangerous offensive player. Perreault combines his slick hands with his excellent skating ability. This makes him extremely dangerous in one-on-one situations. He can take a defenceman wide, drop his shoulder and cut hard to the front of the net. Perreault can also fake that he is going wide and cut to the middle. His ability to quickly change speeds also fools defenders. As they back off to respect his speed, he can use the defenceman as a screen and fire the puck at the net.
Perreault can also score in a variety of ways. He has the moves to beat goalies in tight, an excellent wrist shot with a deceptive release, an outstanding one-timer, a very good snapshot, as well as a strong backhand. These have been really effective at the junior level, but he needs to be even just a little quicker and stronger in the AHL. It should come with time though.
His vision and hockey IQ are also very strong for his age. He gets open without the puck and usually makes smart passes to teammates when he has it in the offensive zone. Perreault can run the powerplay off the half boards, using his stickhandling to slow down the play or speed it up. He can take a shot from the circle or use his vision and passing skills to create offensive chances for a teammate.
Perreault’s defensive game is very much a work in progress. He needs to work on his maturity as he has a tendency to puck watch and stop moving his feet. He can also abandon the defensive zone early, looking for a long breakaway pass. Perreault needs to be harder on the puck and more physical on the boards. He can also be a bit careless with the puck at times. Perreault has a tendency to make bad giveaways in the neutral zone that lead to scoring chances against. While he usually makes the smart play, when he makes these types of errors, they are glaring and lead to good scoring chances for an opponent.
After playing 27 AHL games last season, he is eligible to return to the AHL again. He could also be sent back to the OHL if the Ducks choose. The smart money is on Perreault continuing with the Gulls. It would allow him to continue to develop under the watchful eye of the Ducks organization. He proved last season that he is capable of playing in the AHL. Perreault projects as a winger going forward and could push for an NHL job in 2022-23.
#5 Prospect: Lukas Dostal
Goalie — shoots Left — catches Left
Born June 22nd, 2000 — Brno, Czech Republic
Height 6’1″ — Weight 168 lbs [185 cm/72 kg]
Drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the 3rd round, #85 overall at the 2018 NHL Draft
In 11 games for Ilves in the Finnish SM Liiga, Dostal continued his dominance at that level. He put up a stellar 1.64 goals-against-average and .941 save percentage. Dostal added a 2.87 goals-against-average and .916 save percentage for San Diego in the AHL. He was even better in the playoffs with a 2.55 goals-against-average and .935 save percentage in three games.
Skating and Talent Analysis
While Dostal is a little shorter than the prototypical goaltending prospect in the NHL, he makes up for it with his athleticism. Dostal’s legs are exceptionally quick and he takes away the bottom of the net in his butterfly. He gets into that butterfly quickly and also pops back up quickly. When shooters look high, his blocker and glove hand are lightning-quick. He takes away space. He is a good skater, with powerful legs. This allows him to get side-to-side quickly and take away the cross-crease pass. However, he also has a tendency to slide too far when tracking the puck, and this is something that he will need to work on.
He continues to work on refining his game. Dostal has improved in his positioning and cutting down angles. While not yet perfect, he has vastly improved. Even if he is a little off he can make up for it by making spectacular reflex saves. As he faces continues to move up and face better shooters, athleticism alone will not be enough though, so continued work on this area is necessary. It is an issue that can be fixed though. Dostal already has better rebound control than most 21-year-old goalies, though there is still room to be even better. When he does give up a rebound, his athleticism allows him to square back up to the shot quickly.
The fact that Dostal is succeeding in leagues facing men, at such a young age, is good evidence that he has the confidence to succeed. His mannerisms on the ice are another positive sign. He does not get down after giving up a goal, instead, he is getting prepared for the next faceoff and to make the next save. Dostal’s confidence permeates through the team and his defence looks to him for leadership.
Dostal should take the starting job in San Diego. He is a young goalie and needs to continue to play big minutes, so while he has the skills to challenge Anthony Stolarz for the backup role in Anaheim, he is better off playing those minutes in the AHL. He seems on track to develop into a NHL-calibre starting goalie though, meaning the Ducks may have decisions to make about their future in goal.
#6 Prospect: Sasha Pastujov
The Ducks drafted Pastujov with the 66th overall pick in this year’s NHL draft. Prior to the draft, we did an in-depth scouting report on Pastujov. As no significant games have been played since that report; we will not repeat it. You can check out the report here.
#7 Prospect: Jackson Lacombe
Defence — shoots Left
Born January 9th, 2001 — Chaska, Minnesota
Height 6’1.75″ — Weight 187 lbs [187 cm/85 kg]
Drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the 2nd Round, #39 Overall, at the 2019 NHL Draft
Lacombe had an outstanding season in his second year with the University of Minnesota, taking on big minutes and playing in all situations. He put up four goals and 17 assists for 21 points in 27 games. He also played for Team USA at the World Juniors, picking up an assist and helping the team to a gold medal.
LaCombe is a fluid skater and this leads to his ability to play a strong two-way game. He moves well in both directions, with good top-end speed and acceleration. This allows him to get around the ice, joining the rush, pinching at the blue line and still getting back defensively. He also has very good agility and edgework. LaCombe is able to weave around forecheckers and get past defenders through the neutral zone. He could stand to add muscle to his frame and improve his core strength. This would make him stronger along the boards and in front of the net.
LaCombe can play as a puck-moving defenceman. He is able to retrieve pucks in his own zone and avoid forecheckers. He moves the puck up the ice quickly, with a good first pass, or through skating it out of the zone himself. LaCombe generates effective zone entries by moving the puck quickly through the neutral zone and finding space at the opponent’s blue line. Even without the puck, he is not afraid to join the rush as a trailer. In terms of passing, he could improve his ability to set up opportunities in the offensive zone. With the national team and the Steel, he seemed a bit hesitant to make the creative plays to set up chances in the offensive zone.
LaCombe’s biggest weapon is his wrist shot. He has a quick release and a hard and accurate shot. LaCombe loves to use this shot when joining the rush. He also can float down to the faceoff circles, firing the puck on the net. His slap shot and one-timer could be better. The power might improve as he adds more upper body strength going forward. He does a good job of moving laterally to open up shooting lanes and get his puck through traffic and on the net.
LaCombe’s skating ability helps his defensive game. He is strong against the rush and tough to beat in one-on-one situations. He maintains good gap control. LaCombe uses his skating ability to force opponents to the outside and away from the prime scoring areas. LaCombe has a quick stick, which he uses to poke check the puck away from attackers and steal passes. He has good positioning, keeping his body between his man and the net, and making sure he stays tight. One area that he can improve is his physical game. LaCombe needs to win more battles for loose pucks along the boards. Getting stronger and improving his balance would help here.
LaCombe will head back to the University of Minnesota for his junior campaign and should be one of the top defencemen on the team, if not the NCAA. He could sign with the Ducks once his NCAA season is done, and may get an NHL game or two down the stretch. He probably needs some AHL time in 2022-23, but could be up with the club after a short stint in San Diego.
#8 Prospect: Olen Zellweger
The Ducks drafted Zellweger with the 33rd overall pick in this year’s NHL draft. Prior to the draft, we did an in-depth scouting report on Zellweger. As no significant games have been played since that report; we will not repeat it. You can check out the report here.
#9 Prospect: Sam Colangelo
Centre/Right Wing — shoots Right
Born December 26th, 2001 — Stoneham, Massachusetts
Height 6’2″ — Weight 205 lbs [188 cm/93 kg]
Drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the 2nd Round, #36 Overall, at the 2020 NHL Draft.
Colangelo played just eight games for Northeastern in his freshman campaign as injuries derailed what could have been a promising campaign. He picked up just three assists on the year. He also played for Team USA at the World Juniors, scoring a goal and winning a gold medal.
Colangelo is a good but not great skater. More quick than fast, he has a good first step and very good acceleration. This helps him to win short races for loose pucks, or to quickly speed up when going past a defender. His overall top-end speed is just slightly above average though. Colangelo also excels on his edges. He is able to make quick changes in direction and has the agility to move well laterally. Colangelo has a powerful lower body and good balance. He can fight through checks and is very hard to knock off the puck. This helps him to control the puck down low. He is also good at winning battles for a loose puck in the corners, or for positioning in front of the net.
Colangelo plays a game based on both power and skill. He is a goal scorer, with an excellent wrist shot and snapshot. Colangelo loves to shoot, getting off shots from all over the ice. His release is extremely quick and his quick hands change angles and make it deceptive. His size also allows him to get to the dirty areas of the ice where his quick hands can beat goaltenders with a quick move, banging in a rebound, one-timing a pass from a teammate, or deflecting a shot.
Colangelo can also play the role of a playmaker. He controls the puck well down low, maintaining possession in the cycle game. He moves the puck to teammates with smart passing and then finds a way to get open on the give and guy. Colangelo also has good vision and the ability to fire a pass through a tight opening to set up a scoring chance. He is relentless in his forechecking and puck pursuit. Colangelo finishes his checks and defencemen must be aware when he is on the ice and move the puck quickly. This can lead to mistakes, which he can convert into scoring chances. He’s bigger and stronger than most of his opposition in the USHL and this leads to Colangelo winning battles on the boards and getting the puck to the front of the net. He will need to continue to gain strength to keep this advantage in college and eventually the pros.
Colangelo is willing to bring his gritty game to the defensive end of the ice as well. His non-stop motor and physical play help in supporting the defence down low. He is willing to throw a hit to separate his man from the puck. Colangelo provides effective backpressure when defending against the rush. He is a smart player, reading the play well and getting himself into positions to intercept passes and create turnovers. Colangelo uses his long stick to cut down passing lanes. He is effective on the penalty kill and his offensive ability makes him a threat to score short-handed.
Colangelo heads into the new season looking to be healthy and have a strong sophomore campaign for Northeastern. He needs to show development after what was essentially a lost season for the young forward.
#10 Prospect: Brayden Tracey
Left Wing — shoots Left
Born May 28th, 2001 — Calgary, Alberta
Height 6’0″ — Weight 177 lbs [183 cm / 80 kg]
Drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the 1st Round, 29th Overall, at the 2019 NHL Draft.
Tracey appeared in 21 games for Victoria last season, putting up nine goals and 21 points. He also got in 12 games with San Diego, but struggled at the AHL level and did not pick up a point.
Tracey shows good skating ability. He is more quick than fast though. He has a very good first few steps and strong acceleration. However, his top-end speed is merely good, not great. This allows Tracey to get to loose pucks and dart in and out of openings in the offensive zone, but he is not going to create a lot of breakaway or odd-man rush opportunities. Tracey also has very good edgework and agility which allows him to make quick moves and avoid defenders. He has good size but needs to add core strength in order to improve his strength on the puck and balance. This was really exposed in his time against men in the AHL.
Tracey is a very smart offensive player. He has a knack for finding openings in the defence and getting into those spots. This sets him up to take a pass from a teammate and convert with a quick wrist shot or one-timer. Tracey’s shot is strong and accurate and he has a quick release. A natural goal scorer, he can also convert in tight to the net with good hand-eye coordination and the ability to pounce on rebounds. He doesn’t always show the willingness to battle in those key areas though, Tracey prefers to dart in and out of those positions. If the defenders play him physically, he can have a tendency to play a bit of a perimeter game.
Tracey uses his smarts to be a playmaker as well. He anticipates where his linemates are going and he has the patience to wait for them to get open. He can make tape-to-tape passes through tight areas to set up scoring chances. Tracey is a good stick-handler and combines this with his agility and edgework to make subtle moves to shake defenders and open up passing lanes.
The AHL game seemed too much for him last year. His opponents were too big and too fast for Tracey. This is not that unusual. He wouldn’t be the first teenager to struggle when moving up a level and then adjust and find his game. Now with an off-season to adjust to the pro game, expect to see much more from him in 2022-23.
Tracey needs to show more commitment in the defensive end of the ice. He does not like to play a physical game, preferring to use his stick to try and steal the puck. This can work at times, but he can also look silly when beaten by opponents. He could also do more work in supporting the defence down low and working physically against the cycle game. Away from the puck, Tracey can get caught puck watching and stop moving his feet, which can lead to his opponent’s getting open for a good scoring chance.
Tracey is a bit of a boom or bust prospect. If he develops properly, he could become a top-six forward in the NHL. Tracey is expected back in the AHL in the upcoming season and will look to make a bigger impact for San Diego. He is likely a couple of years away from the NHL, at minimum.
Sleeper Prospect: Henry Thrun
Defence — shoots Left
Born March 12th, 2001 — Southborough, Massachusetts
Height 6’2″ — Weight 190 lbs [188 cm / 86 kg]
Drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the 4th Round, 101st Overall at the 2019 NHL Draft.
With Harvard cancelling their hockey season due to COVID, Thrun played for Dubuque in the USHL. After a strong freshman campaign in 2019-20, it was clear that Thrun has moved past the USHL, but with little other choice, he played in the league rather than sit on the sidelines. He put up eight goals and 22 points in 24 games. Thrun also played for Team USA at the World Juniors, picking up an assist and winning a gold medal.
Thrun is a solid skater. He has good speed in both directions and reaches that speed quickly with very good acceleration. He also has excellent agility and edgework. His strong lateral movement is very useful in both ends of the ice. Thrun also has crisp pivots which allow him to switch from offence to defence quickly and vice-versa. His balance is decent and he is strong on his skates but could be even stronger. He succeeds against fellow teens but will need to get stronger before going to the NCAA.
Thrun combines his skating ability with good puck handling skills. He can skate past forecheckers and get the puck out of dangerous spots in his own end. He also has the ability to lead the rush through the neutral zone. Thrun generates clean zone entries and can get the team set up on the power play. He is also an effective passer, making a good first pass out of the zone as well as being able to set up scoring chances from the blue line. His poise with the puck is combined with his lateral agility in order to allow Thrun to open up passing and shooting lanes.
Thrun can score from the blue line with a good slap shot and one-timer. He also has a good wrist shot with a quick release. Thrun sneaks down from the blue line and lets that shot off at the top of the faceoff circles. He is also willing to join the rush as a trailer and can use that wrist shot in this situation. While he isn’t the type to make really flashy offensive plays, Thrun has skills and gets the job done in the offensive end of the ice.
Thrun has good size at six-foot-two. He is strong on the boards and in battling in front of the net. Added upper-body strength will be needed as he moves to the next level but he has done well against his age group. Thrun also uses his body to block shots and his long stock to cut down passing lanes. He could use some work on his positioning though, as he doesn’t always keep himself on the right side of his man without the puck. In one-on-one situations, Thrun uses his agility to keep himself in front of attackers and keep good gap control. He forces his man to the outside and into bad shooting positions.
Thrun could become an effective puck-moving defenceman with the ability to play top-four minutes if he develops properly. He will need to continue to work on his defensive game, with his play away from the puck needing some work as well as continue to add muscle to his frame. Expect to see him have a strong sophomore campaign at Harvard. He needs time to develop but could be worth the wait for the Ducks.
Other 2021 Anaheim Ducks Prospects in the System
The Ducks have one of the best and deepest groups in the entire league. Upfront, it is worth keeping an eye on Benoit-Olivier Groulx, Bryce Kindopp, Artyom Galinov, Blake McLaughlin, and Jack Perbix. On the blue line, it is make or break time for Josh Mahura, who has already played over 40 NHL games. Other defenders to watch include Ian Moore, Hunter Drew, Axel Andersson, and Thimo Nickl. Goalies Olle Eriksson Ek, Roman Durny, and Gage Alexander provide depth.
2021 Anaheim Ducks Prospects Main Photo:
DENVER, COLORADO – MARCH 16: Trevor Zegras #46 of the Anaheim Ducks skates in warmups prior to their game against the Colorado Avalanche at Ball Arena on March 16, 2021, in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)