The Ducks are a team in a rebuild on the cusp of flipping the switch. While they re-signed franchise player Ryan Getzlaf to a one-year $3 million contract, he will no longer be counted on to carry the team on his back. The roster is already loaded with young players taking on key roles in Maxime Comtois, Troy Terry, Sam Steel, and Isac Lundestrom to name a few.
This year look for two franchise pillars to make a major impact in Jamie Drysdale and Trevor Zegras. Both played in 24 NHL games and are poised to have breakout seasons. Beyond those two rising stars, the Ducks prospect pipeline is flush with promising players developing within their system.
Even outside of this top ten ranking there are several players that could crack another team’s top ten such as Benoit-Olivier Groulx, Axel Andersson, Josh Mahura, Trevor Janicke, Brogan Rafferty and more.
Adding another top pick in the 2021 entry draft in Mason McTavish, who looks to be a more than a suitable future replacement for Getzlaf, makes an already promising future even more so.
2021-22 Top 10 Anaheim Ducks prospects
- Trevor Zegras, C – Anaheim Ducks
Drafted: 2019 round 1, 9th overall by Anaheim Ducks
The Ducks plan on taking their time in developing Zegras, who they believe has the potential to be a franchise first line center. After selecting him ninth overall in 2019 he joined the Boston Terriers in the NCAA.
As an 18-year-old freshman, he dominated with 11 goals and 36 points in 33 games and was a standout for USA at the WJC with nine assists in five games helping lead USA to Gold. A one-and-done NCAA player, Zegras turned pro in his D+2 season. He continued his dominance, this time as a rookie in the AHL where he racked up 10 goals and 21 points in only 17 games with the Gulls. This earned Zegras a promotion to the NHL and he again proved he belonged with 13 points in 24 games.
After the NHL season concluded he got a little more experience in the AHL for a short playoff run of three games where he was a point per game player. Zegras is not only expected to crack the Ducks roster full time in the coming season, but he should be the teams’ first-line center and top power-play pivot.
- Jamie Drysdale, D – Anaheim Ducks
Drafted: 2020 round 1, sixth overall by Anaheim Ducks
The future star defender has been forcing his way into the spotlight for years. He played his way onto an elite Team Canada WJC roster as a draft-eligible in 2020. With no OHL season last year, he was allowed to play in the AHL as an 18-year-old and was outstanding. His four goals and 10 points in 14 games were impressive, but it was his defensive impact as well that earned him a call-up to the big club. Drysdale racked up eight points in 24 games with the Ducks but posted a minus -12 at the same time.
Drysdale was deployed against the opposition’s top lines and was given defensive zone starts as a rookie, showing the Coaching staff has complete confidence in his abilities in both ends. It is hard to believe he is still young enough to be eligible for the OHL but has proven beyond a doubt he is NHL ready now.
- Mason McTavish, C – Peterborough Petes (OHL)
Drafted: 2021 round 1, third overall by Anaheim Ducks
Perhaps the biggest riser in the 2021 draft class, McTavish sat out waiting for the OHL to return. When it was evident that was not going to happen, he opted to play in the Swiss league where he has some familiarity as he was born in Zurich.
Making the jump to pro after being dormant for a while, he needed some adjustment time, but finished with 13 games and scored nine goals in that time. McTavish was most impressive at the U18 with Canada where he dominated physically and offensively posting five goals and 11 points in seven games to help lead Canada to Gold.
The Ducks are patient with prospect development and big power forwards tend to need a little more time to ripen. Expect McTavish to play his full tour in the OHL (two more seasons) and then some AHL seasoning before he takes the reigns from Getzlaf.
- Lukas Dostal, G – San Diego Gulls (AHL)
Drafted: 2018 round 3, 85th overall by Anaheim Ducks
Lukas Dostal has been a dominant goalie in the Liiga, culminating with a Best Goaltender Award in 2020. Once the AHL began he made the move across the pond and had a strong rookie showing with a 15-9-0 record in the AHL.
Dostal will be the starting goalie for the Gulls in 2021-22 but should get the call when John Gibson is injured again. Gibson is signed through 2026-27 and is only 28-years-old and clearly the incumbent starting goalie for the Ducks, but he also comes with some injury history and the pair could be sharing starting duties as soon as 2022.
- Jacob Perreault, RW – San Diego Gulls (AHL)
Drafted: 2020 round 1, 27th overall by Anaheim Ducks
The son of former NHLer Yanik Perrault, Jacob is known for his ability to shoot the puck. The sniper is also a very strong skater, two traits that will serve him well in making it to the NHL.
What Perreault needs to develop is his defensive side of the game, and he worked on that in his D+1 year in the AHL. With no OHL season to play in, Perreault saw 27 games with the Gulls and posted a strong 17 points. He managed only three goals however and was a minus -11.
In his draft season with the Sting he lit the lamp 39 times but was a minus -34. Perreault played in over 20 AHL games which gives Anaheim the option of returning Perreault to Sarnia in the OHL, or back to the Gulls in the AHL.
Since his offensive game is already transferable to the pro level expect him to get time in the AHL where the sniper can hone his 200-foot game under the close eye of Head Coach Joel Bouchard and Director of Player Development Francois Beauchemin.
- Jackson LaCombe, D – University of Minnesota (NCAA)
Drafted: 2019 round 2, 39th overall by Anaheim Ducks
The Minnesota native enjoyed a breakout season as a sophomore in his home state with the Golden Gophers in the NCAA, raising his point totals from 13 as a freshman to 21, and in ten fewer games. LaCombe’s strong performance earned him a role on the USA WJC roster giving him added confidence and valuable experience.
LaCombe is a strong skater and is a very good puck-moving defenseman with good offensive upside at the NHL level.
LaCombe will return to the University of Minnesota for his junior season, but could turn pro after that and audition for a NHL job as the only Ducks defensemen currently under contract for 2022-23 are Cam Fowler and Kevin Shattenkirk. A season in the AHL might be how the Ducks see his development plan, however.
- Brayden Tracey, LW – Victoria Royals (WHL)
Drafted: 2019 round 1, 29th overall by Anaheim Ducks
Tracey started the season in the AHL playing in 12 games but was held pointless. When the WHL began its abbreviated season he was returned to the Victoria Royals, one of the worst teams in the CHL. In his 22 games in the dub, Tracey scored nine goals and 21 points in 22 games.
The 20-year-old will get another look at the AHL as he has now aged out of junior hockey. His short audition with the Gulls should serve him well as he will use that experience to prepare for his full rookie season.
Tracey is a well-rounded player with a strong work ethic, that needs to shore up his strength and skating. The Ducks are loaded with young wingers which will allow Tracey plenty of time in the AHL to develop his game.
- Olen Zellweger, D – Everett Silvertips (WHL)
Drafted: 2021 round 2, 34th overall by Anaheim Ducks
Zellweger is a prototypical modern day NHL defenseman. While undersized, he is a very agile and a fluid skater, that carries the puck swiftly and decisively up the ice. He sees the ice well and has quick reads and reacts. Zellweger is also sneaky good with deception, using head fakes and look-offs to disguise his intentions. Combined with his skating ability he is a very slippery and elusive player.
Still very young, he may yet have some physical growing to do and get closer to the six-foot mark and add some much needed strength and bulk to his 176 pound frame.
Olen has two more years’ worth of WHL development before he will turn pro and cut his teeth with the Gulls.
- Sam Colangelo, RW – Northeastern University (NCAA)
Drafted: 2020 round 2, 36th overall by Anaheim Ducks
A product of the Chicago Steel in the USHL, Colangelo saw limited ice time during the pandemic. Committed to the Northeastern Huskies, his D+1 season was limited to eight games where he managed three assists.
Colangelo did find more playing time with Team USA at the WJC where he gained valuable experience as a supporting player on route to a Gold Medal. The big winger will return for his sophomore season, and will likely play at least one more after that before breaking into the pro leagues.
With Max Jones and Max Comtois on the roster already, the Ducks can afford to be patient with their future power forward.
- Sasha Pastujov, LW – Guelph Storm (OHL)
Drafted: 2021 round 3, 66th overall by Anaheim Ducks
Pastujov was one of the US National teams most consistent and prolific offensive producers. He scored 30 goals and 65 points in 41 games with USA, another 26 points in 18 with the USNTDP in the USHL, and then scored five goals and eight points in five games at the U18 with USA.
He can score and has size, but fell into the third round of the NHL draft due to skating concerns. With the right coaching and work, that is a correctable deficiency. What is very hard to teach is his offensive vision and shooting ability. Typically US national team players opt to go the route of the NCAA, but Pastujov will report to the Guelph Storm in the OHL after already signing his entry-level contract with the Ducks.