The Anaheim Ducks have left little doubt the type of player they covet at the NHL Draft each year.
Battling for top honors against the likes of the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks in the Pacific Division each season, Ducks general manager Bob Murray has made a habit of choosing big, strong forwards capable of driving the net and giving and taking more than their share of hits over the course of 60 minutes.
Many of those physically fit power forwards were on display at the team's recently completed prospect development camp at The Rinks - Anaheim ICE.
All five picks from the 2014 draft were on display, including Nicolas Ritchie (first round, No. 10), Marcus Pettersson (second round, No. 38), Brandon Montour (second round, No. 55) Matt Berkovitz (fifth round, No. 123) and Ondrej Kase (seventh round, No. 205).
Ritchie, a bruising 6-foot-2, 226-pound left wing from the Peterborough Petes in the Ontario Hockey League, held his own during his first development camp with the Ducks.
"I try and model my game after [Boston Bruins forward] Milan Lucic as a big guy that plays hard and tough and scores goals," Ritchie told the Ducks website. "I'm trying to get faster and stronger and more physically fit at the camp so that I'll enter training camp [in September] feeling good."
Todd Marchant, who spent 16 seasons in the NHL and won a Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007, likes what he sees in Ritchie. Marchant, who is Anaheim's director of player development, runs the camp.
"[Nick's] a big, strong kid with a heck of a shot and he uses his size very well," Marchant said. "He was right in front of the net [during a July 4 scrimmage]. He knows where to go and what do to. Moving forward, he needs to continue getting bigger, stronger and in better shape in order to play at the NHL level."
Additionally, defenseman Shea Theodore (2013, No. 26), right wings Nick Sorensen (2013, No. 45) and Stefan Noesen (2013, trade with Ottawa) and left wing Nicolas Kerdiles (2012, No. 36) were also on hand during the six-day camp.
Kerdiles (6-2, 205), who was hampered by a shoulder injury as a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin last season, still managed 15 goals and 38 points in 28 games for the Badgers. He signed a pro contract in April and played six regular-season games with Anaheim's American Hockey League affiliate in Norfolk. He had three goals and four points in 10 AHL postseason games.
The native of Irvine, Calif., reportedly signed a three-year, two-way contract worth $832,500 at the NHL level and $70,000 at the AHL level per season.
"It was a complete season other than the one little injury, and I produced well; I was consistent throughout the whole season and that's something I was looking forward to doing," Kerdiles said. "We had a good run at Wisconsin and just came up short in the NCAA tournament. I followed that up by signing and going to Norfolk and had a great experience. I played 16 games and the playoff experience was great."
Kerdiles, who added five pounds this year and is looking to add five more, had two goals and seven points in five games for the United States at the 2014 World Junior Championship in Malmo, Sweden. He's looking forward to impressing the coaches at training camp.
"I'm learning to be a pro," Kerdiles said. "I took that experience in Norfolk and enjoyed it and learned a lot. Being a pro is a lot different than people think. I just want to impress the coaching staff by doing my best."
Noesen, meanwhile, is just glad to be skating again after sitting out the entire 2013-14 season with torn knee ligaments. A first-round pick (No. 21) of the Ottawa Senators in 2011, Noesen did play in four AHL playoff games for Norfolk at the end of the season, chipping in with four assists and a plus-1 rating.
"The recovery was long, but it definitely helped with my maturity and overall strength," Noesen said. "Taking that year off helped me mentally as well as physically. The guys [in Norfolk] were good to me all year and very supportive. They noticed I was working hard to get back. I began skating three weeks before the start of the AHL playoffs and my goal was to get back out there."