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From NHL.com: Gibson, Ritchie Among Ducks' Top Five Prospects

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks

The Anaheim Ducks have done a good job developing prospects during the past few years. This year's prospects will literally be closer to the NHL because Anaheim moved its American Hockey League affiliate from Norfolk, Va., to San Diego.

The Ducks are well-stocked at center; their most immediate needs are on the wings and defense. Anaheim isn't shy about recalling prospects, so most of their NHL-ready players stand a good chance at playing with the Ducks at some point this season.

Here is a look at the Ducks' top prospects, according to NHL.com:

1. John Gibson, G

How acquired: 2nd round (No. 39), 2011 NHL Draft

Last season: Ducks: 23 GP, 13-8-0, 2.60 goals-against average, .914 save percentage; Norfolk, AHL: 11 GP, 6-3-2, 2.07 GAA, .935 save percentage

Gibson, 22, was never really able to challenge Frederik Andersen for the Ducks' No. 1 spot after a groin injury in November. But the 6-foot-3, 216-pound goaltender is capable of elite-level play when he's healthy, and he could eventually take the job if Anaheim has trouble re-signing him and Andersen; each becomes a restricted free agent after this season and will be due for a big raise.

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

2. Nick Ritchie, LW

How acquired: 1st round (No. 10), 2014 NHL Draft

Last season: Peterborough, OHL: 25 GP, 14-18-32; Sault Ste. Marie, OHL: 23 GP, 15-15-30

Ritchie, 19, is an intriguing prospect given his power-forward size (6-foot-2, 226 pounds) and Anaheim's perpetual need for a left wing to play with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.

A midseason trade after he helped Canada win the World Junior Championship didn't slow his scoring; he has been nearly a point-per-game player for his junior career, with 210 points in 212 games.

Projected NHL arrival: 2016-17

3. Shea Theodore, D

How acquired: 1st round (No. 26), 2013 NHL Draft

Last season: Seattle, WHL: 43 GP, 13-35-48; Norfolk, AHL: 9 GP, 4-7-11

The 20-year-old spent parts of last season practicing with Anaheim and is likely to make his NHL debut sometime this season. Theodore (6-foot-2, 178 pounds) projects as an offensive defenseman who can run the point on the power play.

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

4. Stefan Noesen, RW

How acquired: Trade with Ottawa Senators, July 5, 2013

Last season: Ducks: 1 GP, 0-0-0; Norfolk, AHL: 27 GP, 7-9-16

Injuries have set back Noesen for the past two seasons, but the 22-year-old, acquired in the trade that sent forward Bobby Ryan to Ottawa, remains Anaheim's best right wing prospect. The Ducks recalled the 6-foot-2, 205-pound forward late last season for his NHL debut as a reward for persevering through a torn MCL/ACL in October 2013 and an injured Achilles in October 2014.

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

5. Nicolas Kerdiles, LW

How acquired: 2nd round (No. 36), 2012 NHL Draft

Last season: Norfolk, AHL: 51 GP, 9-17-26

Kerdiles, 21, is a good hometown story as the first Ducks' draft pick raised locally, in nearby Irvine, Calif. At 6-foot-2, 201 pounds, he's a solid two-way forward who completed his first professional season after two years at Wisconsin.

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

Author: Curtis Zupke | NHL.com Correspondent

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