The first round of the NHL Entry Draft seemed to take forever. Announcing each name, having the player come up and get his jersey and pose for pictures and then do the media gauntlet made for a long Friday evening. Even longer when you are a Ducks fan waiting for the first Ducks pick.
Instead of going at #22, Anaheim traded their pick to Toronto (as if a deal between Bob Murray and Brian Burke is ever any surprise.) In return, the Ducks got to pick last at #30 and then added another pick at #39 in the second round.
After four hours of mostly predictable picks and not very many trades to perk things up, Anaheim took a Swedish forward, Rickard Rakell, with the final pick of the first round. Not exactly the same buzz as last year when the Ducks were able to grab a still available Cam Fowler.
“Rakell is very intelligent and plays more of a North American game than a European one,” said Murray. “He was a 17-year-old player at the 2011 World Juniors and he contributed to Team Sweden. I’m very happy with this selection.”
Rakell, 18, played with the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League last season and should end up as a nice two way forward.
After the plodding first round, the GMs waste no time speeding through rounds 2 through 7. The Ducks had two picks each in the second and third rounds and one each in the fifth and sixth round. With those picks the Ducks chose goaltender John Gibson (second round, 39th overall), centers William Karlsson (second round, 53rd overall) and Joseph Cramarossa (third round, 65th overall), defenseman Andy Welinski (third round, 83rd overall), right wing Max Friberg (fifth round, 143rd overall) and defenseman Josh Manson (sixth round, 160th overall). Manson was taken with a pick obtained from Toronto (again) in exchange for the Ducks’ sixth-round selection in 2012.
“I’m very excited by our selections over the past two days,” said Ducks Director of Amateur Scouting Martin Madden. “We were lucky to select players that our staff is passionate about and are happy about being able to acquire two additional draft picks.”
Gibson, 17, has been part of the United States National Team and helped Team USA to a gold medal at the 2011 Under-18 World Championships in Germany this spring. Gibson helped the club go undefeated in the tournament (6-0). He has good size at 6-3, 205 pounds, and he will play for the University of Michigan this fall.
Karlsson and Friberg are two more Swedes added to the Ducks prospect list. Cramarossa and Manson are Canadian. Welinski is also part of the USHL.
When the Ducks hold their prospects camp at the beginning of July, most of these new guys will be there for their first evaluation by the Ducks training staff. They will also get their first look at what it will take to make the team – conditioning, diet, exercise, areas to work on.
As with most drafts, players are hit or miss at making it to the NHL level, especially those in the later rounds, but as with any player, you never know when you have a diamond in the rough that proves everyone else wrong. Hopefully Anaheim has found a few hidden jewels for their future.