Ducks Director of Amateur Scouting Martin Madden discusses Anaheim's five selections at the 2014 NHL Draft held June 27-28 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA.
On if the team accomplished its goal at the NHL Draft
I don’t think we approach the draft looking to fill needs. Our philosophy is best player available, and traits and passion from the staff. From that perspective, we accomplished our task. We got players our staff is passionate about, and fit the Ducks’ identity.
On what stood out about 10th overall pick Nick Ritchie
Playoffs. His team [Peterborough] was down to Kingston, 3-1, and their top defense pair was doing a pretty good job against their top line. It was a tough series, but the Kingston defenders were hanging in there. Nick decided he was going to put a stamp on that fifth game. He made that top pair very uncomfortable by dump and chase and finishing his checks. But he also took the puck to the net and used his size and power to his advantage. He drove the puck to the net and got to rebounds. He used his big frame in front of the net on the power play. He played pretty well up to that point in that series, but that took him to another level. He continued to pound and do his thing. Games 5, 6 and 7, he was a big part of putting his stamp on those games to get back in the series.
On the influence of his brother, Brett, currently in the Dallas Stars system
What I like most about that is his brother continuously improved from his 17-year-old season. He had a very good first-year pro season this year in Dallas. Even at 18 and 19, his skating will need to improve. He got more consistent with his physicality and energy, so it’s nice to see that Nick has a good role model right there with him. There no doubt about that. It’s going to be interesting when Nick is all over him when we play Dallas.
On if he was nervous at the possibility of the No. 10 pick being traded
[Bob Murray] assured me that the No. 10 pick was never in play. I got a little nervous at one point this week, but in the end, it didn’t feel like that one was going away.
On selecting three defensemen among the five picks
It just happened. Especially for our fifth-round pick [Matthew Berkovitz], he happened to be a pick two of our staff members had real passion for. I would’ve liked a forward there, but two of our staff members were really passionate about this kid and his long-term potential. We think he’s going to a good school, Wisconsin, in two years. They develop really good defensemen.
All these kids are four, five or six years down the road. At the end of the day, we look at talent and how they fit the Ducks identity. This year it happened that those three picks were defensemen. Having said that, with Brandon [Montour] at 55, he’s an interesting story. He was playing on his junior team last year, he played as much forward as he did defense. Then he moved to the USHL [United States Hockey League] and he just blew that league wide open from the defense in terms of his offense. Knowing we didn’t have a third or a fourth, we felt comfortable swinging hard for that pick, and going for that homerun-type of selection with him. He will be playing college next year at the University of Massachusetts.
On 38th overall selection Marcus Pettersson
His best attributes are his hockey sense and mobility. He moves very well for a kid who’s not very strong for his age. He has a lot of time to mature. In the next two or three years, he’ll put some muscle on. He thinks the game very well. He’s extremey talented in terms of awareness and the ability to position himself. He uses his reach to his advantage, and has a lot of confidence with the puck.
He won’t play for us next year. He’s physically not there. He has to work hard and fill that frame, but the upside is there. He’s a dedicated kid. He plays for a great program with Skelleftea. This year he played as much junior as he played men’s, but next year we anticipate him to be a full member of the men’s team in the SHL.
On if Pettersson will play out his entire three-year contract with Skelleftea
The AHL has a clause with the NHL. Whenever we feel comfortable that he’s ready, we can sign him to an NHL contract. Right now, he’s on a three-year contract, but we’ll take it year by year. That’s where he’s going to spend his next year. We’ll evaluate where he is physically, and where his progression stands. If it takes three years, it takes three years. If it takes two, then it takes two. We’re not in a hurry with him. We’re going to do it the right way.
On seventh-round pick Ondrej Kase
He’s a really smart, skilled offensive winger. He’s a little on the small side in terms of where he is in his development, but he’s 5-11 and a half. When our strength and conditioning coach, Sean Skahan, gets a hold of him, we think he can build him up. He’s got competitiveness, determination, hockey sense and skill.
On if the team tried to move into the third and fourth round
It would’ve cost us too much in terms of next year’s draft to get there. Going in, we knew we were going to have a long wait through the middle of the draft. Looking back, it worked out well. We’re fine with the number of selections we had today.