By Kyle Shohara
Anaheim’s rookies, top prospects and invitees converged upon The Rinks – Anaheim Ice this morning for the club’s annual fall rookie camp. This particular group features 15 forwards, eight defensemen and three goaltenders, along with 11 Anaheim selections from recent NHL Drafts.
Among those are right wing Stefan Noesen and defenseman Josh Manson, who both made their NHL debuts with Anaheim last season. Noesen, a rugged power forward, was acquired in a trade with the Ottawa Senators that also included Jakob Silfverberg and the 10th overall selection (Nick Ritchie) in the 2014 NHL Draft, while Manson, a physical stay-at-home blueliner, was plucked out of the sixth round (160th overall) in the 2011 NHL Draft.
At 23, Manson is one of the oldest players on the 26-man roster. Despite being a previous attendee at rookie camp and one of the few with NHL experience, the 6-3, 217-pound Saskatchewan native remains humble. He says he’s using his experience as a way to make the newer guys feel at home.
“I try to help the guys any way I can,” Manson said. “I’ve been here before. I’ve done the development camps for four years. Last year was my first rookie camp and I’ve been to fall [training] camp. Anything they need, you try to reach out and help them. I introduce myself and make myself friendly. You want to make everybody as comfortable as they can be so they can perform at their best on the ice.”
Known more for his shutdown style of play rather than his offensive game, Manson earned three points and finished with a plus-1 rating in 28 games with the Ducks last season. He says rookie camp is a great way to get into the right frame of mind when training camp begins.
“Coming into fall camp is a lot different because you have the big guys here,” Manson said. “The NHL guys are lingering around the rink, and maybe you’ve never seen them before. It’s a different experience. You get a little bit of nerves and excitement.”
In what was, at the time, his final year of draft eligibility, Brandon Montour was Anaheim’s choice in the second round (55th overall) of the 2014 NHL Draft – and what a selection it could turn out to be.
After being named the USHL’s Player of the Year, Defenseman of the Year and a USHL First Team All-Star with Waterloo in 2013-14, Montour began 2014-15 with Waterloo, collecting six goals and 21 points in 17 games. Following his time with the Black Hawks, Montour went on to post 20 points in 21 games with the University of Massachusetts-Amherst (Hockey East). During his time with the Minutemen, Montour was named the Hockey East Rookie of the Month for January after ranking tied for second in the nation for scoring by a defenseman with 10 points in eight games. After signing a three-year entry-level contract on March 16, Montour made his professional debut with the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals, where he earned a goal, 10 points and a plus-10 rating in 14 games.
After today’s practice, the polite and soft-spoken 21-year-old said this camp is another building block for him in his blossoming career.
“This is another step, and I’m listening to what the coaches and the players have to say,” Montour said. “It’s good to be out here, hanging with the guys.”
Like Manson, Montour is using this camp as a way to further prepare himself for his first training camp with the Ducks.
“It’s very exciting,” Montour said. “The three leagues I played in last year, in each level I gained experience and learned a lot. This is going to be my first main camp. It’s going to be another big jump, and with the experience battling guys like Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler, it’s another step. I’m excited to go for it.”
Upcoming on the schedule are two Futures Games to be played tomorrow and Sunday in San Jose against the Sharks’ rookies. Tomorrow’s game will be held at SAP Center (home of the Sharks) at 5 p.m. PDT, while Sunday’s contest is scheduled for 2 p.m. PDT at the club’s practice facility (Sharks Ice).
“We played Worcester a couple times, so we’re familiar with some of the younger guys on that team,” said Noesen, referring to San Jose’s former AHL affiliate. (They have since relocated to San Jose). “It’s always fun when you can put on the Ducks uniform. Everyone is looking forward to getting things going.”
Following the weekend games, the rookies will resume camp at Anaheim Ice with two scheduled practices, both open to the public: Tuesday, Sept. 15 (10:30 a.m. PDT) and Wednesday, Sept. 16 (10:30 a.m. PDT).