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.
[Previous profiles: Dach and Turcotte | Cozens and Zegras | Kaliyev and Caufield | Boldy and Krebs | Harley and Newhook]
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: Right Wing
Height/Weight: 6' 1", 196
Last Amateur Club: Neva St. Petersburg (Russia-2)
Final Ranking (NHL Central Scouting): 2 (European Skaters)
Can 17-year-old Vasili Podkolzin become the next superstar wing to come from Russia? Only time will tell, but Podkolzin has been an interesting topic of conversation as the draft nears. He's the second-highest rated European skater behind projected top-2 pick Kaapo Kaako, and has the potential to be a top-line power winger in the NHL, according to The Athletic's Senior NHL Prospects Writer Corey Pronman. "He will instantly become a lightning rod no matter where he is drafted," Pronman says, "but there is a point where he will be worth it because the skill and the man will become a valuable part of an NHL team."
Podkolzin finished the 2018-19 season playing for Neva St. Petersburgh in Russia's second league, recording five points (2g/3a) in 14 games. He was an impact player at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, recording 11 points (8g/3a) in five games to lead Team Russia to a bronze medal as team captain. No stranger to international competition, he wore the 'C' for Russia at the 2019 Under-18 World Championship (silver medal) and represented his country at the 2019 World Junior Championship. Previous international experience includes the 2018 World Junior A Challenge, 2018 Under-18 World Championship and 2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Podkolzin made history last season when he became the first player born in the 2000s to play in the Kontinental Hockey League. He made his KHL debut on Nov. 12, 2018 with SKA St. Petersburg on a line with former NHL legend Pavel Datsyuk and Vegas Golden Knights prospect Nikita Gusev. Though some experts wonder if Podkolzin's desire to finish off the remaining two years on his contract with SKA St. Petersburg will deter some NHL clubs from taking him, Podkolzin says his goal is to play in the NHL. "To play in NHL is a dream of any player," he said via a translator in this feature on NHL.com.
Video: Vasili Podkolzin ranks No. 6 on Draft Prospects list
"I still see a forward with high-end skill, high-end vision, a high-end shot, an elite compete level and physicality, all despite iffy skating, I think he has the potential to be a top-line power winger in the NHL," said Pronman. "If I was a betting man, I also think he will come over at the end of his current contract with SKA."
"He's a bull-dog player," said TSN Director of Scouting Craig Button. "He wants to get where it matters all the time. He takes the puck to the net, he gets involved on the boards. When you think about the game, and driving the play and driving the puck, that's exactly how Podkolzin plays. Great understanding and great sense. He can penalty kill, he can play on the power play. He can play two ways. Those are the elements that really help him be that impact player. The one thing that holds him back is his skating is good. It's not great, it's not very good. If it was a little bit better, you're talking about player who could very well be in the top-3 of the 2019 NHL Draft. But make no mistake. He's a difference maker, and you want him on your team."
Height/Weight: 6' 0", 182
Last Amateur Club: Brynas (Sweden)
Final Ranking (NHL Central Scouting): 3 (European Skaters)
Victor Soderstrom enters the draft as the third-ranked European skater overall and the highest ranked defenseman. A right-shot D, Soderstrom made the jump from Sweden's junior ranks to the Swedish Hockey League as a 17-year-old last season, earning seven points (4g/3a) in 44 games with Brynas in the SHL.
"Soderstrom is a great puck mover, showing high-end IQ moving the puck and ice in his veins under pressure," Pronman said in this feature on the top 107 prospects in the draft. "Sometimes he's a little too calm, letting guys close in on him and trying to be too cute, but typically he's efficient on zone exits. He's smooth with the puck, but has very quick hands, and is able to make plays through defenders from a standstill and off the rush."
Video: Cosentino highlights top defensemen in 2019 NHL Draft
He hails from the same hometown (Gavle) as Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg, and helped Sweden win gold at the 2019 Under-18 World Championship in April. He's also represented Sweden internationally at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup (silver medal) and 2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Several scouts were asked about Soderstrom's game in a recent NHL.com article by Adam Kimelman. "Soderstrom starts the offense with a great first pass," one scout said. "He's a great four-way skater. He played at the World Under-18s the same way he did in the Swedish league, which leads us to believe he's going to be a real good player. He's just a smart, cerebral typical Swedish defenseman."