Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

A Pivotal Season Lies Ahead for Jamie Drysdale

On October 28, 2022, Jamie Drysdale sustained a season-ending injury against the Vegas Golden Knights. Specifically, he tore the labrum in his left shoulder, causing him to miss the remaining 74 games of the year. The innocuous-looking hit Drysdale took on the play made the news especially difficult to fathom. This was obviously devastating both for the Ducks and Drysdale himself, as he seemed poised to build on his solid rookie campaign.

An all-important year for Drysdale

Let’s Make a Deal

While the year to forget for Drysdale has passed, it was also the final one of his entry-level contract. The 21-year-old is now an RFA, and thus due for a raise before Anaheim’s season begins in October. However, there’s a good chance the money and term on Drysdale’s new deal is more reflective of the time he’s been off the ice than on it. Drysdale’s only played one full season after all, so he’s relatively unproven at the NHL level. Because of this, it’s safe to assume a short-term bridge deal is in the works for Drysdale.

What Drysdale’s Return Means for the Ducks

Notably absent in the Ducks’ defence group last year were the abilities to escape forechecking pressure and quickly advance play from one zone to the next, traits Drysdale has in spades. After Drysdale’s injury, nobody but Cam Fowler was capable of carrying the puck up ice without shortly turning it over. But even Fowler, long lauded as an effective puck mover, lacks Drysdale’s innate playmaking and activation instincts. Drysdale also proved to be a competent rush defender during his limited playing time last year. Conversely, many of Anaheim’s blueliners weren’t able to disrupt possession at all, let alone turn stops into instant offence. Needless to say, a healthy Jamie Drysdale will undoubtedly improve the state of the Ducks defence.

An equally important aspect of Drysdale’s return is how much he helps the forwards in all situations. His vision and constant scanning allow him to spot streaking forwards for outlet passes. If no passing lanes are available, Drysdale has the wherewithal to adapt. His above-average straight-line speed and brilliant edgework are tools that allows him to become a one-man breakout. Drysdale’s also a sensible candidate to quarterback Anaheim’s top power-play unit this season. While he isn’t a shooting threat, his lateral agility, distribution skills, and knack for generating deflections through traffic make him fully deserving of this role.

A Big “Prove-It” Year

With a year of development lost, Drysdale should be feeling some pressure to perform. Not only for his own growth as a player but because of multiple high-end prospects that could challenge his spot on the depth chart in a year or two. The Ducks made history last season, becoming the first team with prospects to win defenceman of the year in all three Canadian Hockey Leagues in the same season. Pavel Mintyukov and Tristan Luneau took home OHL and QMJHL defenceman of the year honors respectively. Olen Zellweger was named WHL defenceman of the year two seasons straight. As if that wasn’t enough, Zellweger was also named the top defenceman in the entire CHL. Blueline talent is abundant in Anaheim’s pipeline, so this will be a crucial season for Jamie Drysdale to solidify himself as a focal point of Anaheim’s burgeoning defensive corps.

Main Photo: © Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports


More Posts

Send Us A Message