With the Ducks holding two picks in the first round (No. 9 and 29) and three in the top 39, the 2019 NHL Draft (June 21-22 in Vancouver) is shaping up to be a significant one for Anaheim. The Ducks are the NHL's most successful team drafting players into the NHL since 2010, having done so without a top-five overall selection. In fact, Anaheim has not selected in the top five since 2005, qualifying for the playoffs in 11 of 14 seasons since then.
The Ducks have selected 58 players since 2010, with a league-leading 51.7% (30 players, tied with Boston) making it to the NHL (the league average is 38%). Those 30 players have combined to play 4,810 NHL games, led by defensemen Cam Fowler (620) and Hampus Lindholm (447). Furthermore, eight of those 30 players (26.7% percent) have played 250-or-more NHL games, which also leads the league.
As the draft nears, AnaheimDucks.com looks at some of the top-15 ranked North American and European skaters according to the NHL Central Scouting's 2019 final Draft Prospect Rankings. Each day we will feature two players leading up to the start of the draft on June 21.
Position: Defenseman Height/Weight: 6' 3", 193 Last Amateur Club: Mississauga Steelheads (OHL) Final Ranking (NHL Central Scouting): 11 (North American)
Thomas Harley comes in as the second-highest ranked North American defenseman according to NHL Central Scouting. He's also one of the youngest players in the draft, as his 18th birthday won't come around until Aug. 19. Big, mobile and highly skilled, Harley had a breakthrough season with the Steelheads, finishing eighth among OHL defensemen with 58 points (11g/47a) in 68 games during the 2018-19 campaign. His 47 assists were the third most in Steelheads history in a single season, trailing only Scott Lehman (50 in 2005-06) and Ryan Wilson (49 in 2005-06).
"Harley skates with the quickest forwards in the OHL due to the strength of his stride and his wingspan," said The Athletic's Senior NHL Prospects Writer Corey Pronman in this rundown of the top 107 prospects in the upcoming draft. "He can jump up into the attack. He's good with the puck, showing some creativity and good vision, at times very good. Defensively he's a bit of a work in progress. His feet and stick allow him to make stops and close gaps, but he needs to bulk up a lot and be better at times in his own end."
His strong performance during the 2018-19 season earned him OHL Third All-Star Team honors and the Bobby Smith Trophy as the league's scholastic player of the year. Harley represented Team Canada at the 2019 IIHF U18 World Championship in Sweden, and paced club blueliners with four points (1g/3a) in seven games.
Mitch Brown, contributor to the Athletic Montreal, says the 17-year-old defenseman has commonalities with current top-tier puck movers in the NHL. "Harley has significant upside in transition. He invites pressure, directly attacking multiple forecheckers to get a better look for his teammates up the ice. It's a trait shared by the high-end puck movers of the NHL. His transition game, of course, isn't quite at that level yet, but the fact he has that mentality is an excellent starting point."
Position: Center Height/Weight: 5' 10", 192 Last Amateur Club: Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL) Final Ranking (NHL Central Scouting): 13 (North American)
That cloud of smoke hovering over the ice is of no concern. It's just the visible remnants of Alex Newhook blazing up the ice at break-neck speed. While this may be an exaggeration, Newhook's game revolves around his explosive speed. The St. Johns, Newfoundland native tore up the BCHL during the 2018-19 season (his second season in the league), finishing as the league's top scorer with 102 points (38g/64a) in 53 games with the Victoria Grizzlies. Newhook became the first Grizzlies player to eclipse 100 points in a season since Tyler Bozak's 111-point campaign (41g/70a) in 2006-07, and was awarded the Vern Dye Memorial Trophy as the league's MVP and Brett Hull Trophy as the top scorer.
In 2017-18, Newhook was named the league's rookie of the year after posting 66 points (22g/44a) in 45 games. He was named to the All-Rookie Team and was a First Team All-Star, and led all rookies in assists and points.
"Last year, I'd call him more of a finesse player and passer, and this year, he's become as much a shooter as a setup guy," Grizzlies head coach Craig Didmon said in this Sportsnet feature on Newhook. "He brings a ton of speed to the game, and he's also got some physicality. He's a tough kid. I think he's a complete player."
Pronman describes him as an "explosive skater who is able to drive play because of the speed he has and the pace he plays with." He mentions Newhook's quick feet and the number of strides he's able to make in a short amount of time as a few ways he's able to make plays out of nothing. But what Pronman says makes Newhook so special is his ability to make plays at top speed. It was evident in the BCHL and at the 2019 U18 Worlds, where he ranked tied for sixth among all skaters with 10 points (5g/5a) in seven games.
"Newhook makes plays at full speed, often blowing by defenders, while also being able to pull up and make a play at pace," said Pronman. "I've seen him make some very creative passes where he hits a tight lane with little time or hitting a man on the tape while he's going 100 miles an hour. He's also very skilled, and often makes tough plays to lose a defender and create space. Newhook isn't just a skill guy, he competes well too, which combined with his great speed allows him to always be around the puck."
He'll take the next step in his hockey career by attending Boston College in the fall.