By Kyle Shohara
Anaheim’s top prospects and recent draft picks descended upon Anaheim for a week-long development camp that runs through July 7 at THE RINKS – Anaheim ICE.
After getting physical evaluations yesterday at Honda Center, the scene shifted to the team’s practice facility this morning. There, the prospects - including 2014 first-round pick Nick Ritchie (10th overall) - took part in the camp’s first on-ice sessions.
The 6-2, 226-pound Ritchie says it’s been a whirlwind week since getting drafted by the Ducks on Friday. “I got home in time to celebrate with some buddies and family, and then a couple days later I was back on a plane flying to California,” he said. “It’s an unbelievable feeling. To hear your name called by such a good franchise was rewarding.”
The 18-year-old has collected 148 points (73g/75a) with 246 penalty minutes in 165 career games with Peterborough of the Ontario Hockey League. Ritchie set OHL career highs in goals (39), assists (35), points (74) and penalty minutes (136) last season. In addition, Ritchie led his team in points, goals, power-play goals (11), points-per-game (1.21) and penalty minutes. Ritchie became the third player in team history to score five goals in a game during a six-point performance (5g/1a) on February 7 at Kingston.
Ritchie, who possesses a man’s frame and an NHL-caliber shot, says his goal is to make the big squad. “I’m focused on trying to make this team this year,” he said. “It’s about working hard, especially in the weight room, getting stronger and more fit. If I do that, it’ll really round out my game, and help my game on the ice.”
Shea Theodore, Anaheim’s 26th overall selection of the 2013 NHL Draft, begins his second development camp with the Ducks. The 18-year-old is coming off a stellar season with Seattle of the Western Hockey League in which he led all league defensemen in points (79) and assists (57), and ranked third in goals (22). He also led his team in points, assists and plus/minus (+19). Theodore then made his professional debut, appearing in four regular season games and four postseason contests with the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League.
“It was fun, and it was really fast hockey,” he said, on his first taste of professional hockey. “Guys are a lot bigger than in the Western Hockey League, but I thought I held my own. I just need to build on that.”
Theodore says he wants to work on his quickness and shake off some rust during the week-long camp. “I want to get back into the game,” he said. “I haven’t really skated too much over the summer, so I just want to get back on the ice and work on things.”
Local product Nicolas Kerdiles also took part in today’s on-ice session. The Irvine native, who was born in Lewisville, Texas, finished his college career ranked fifth in the nation in points-per-game (1.36) and tied for 11th in assists-per-game (0.82) last season. Kerdiles collected 38 points (15g/23a) with 33 penalty minutes in 28 games with Wisconsin, ranking third among conference skaters in scoring and goals, and second in assists. Kerdiles then made his professional debut with Norfolk, earning four points (1g/3a) in six regular season games. Kerdiles then tacked on four points (3g/1a) in 10 postseason appearances.
Kerdiles says he’s made big strides since this time last year. “My skating got even stronger and my frame got bigger,” he said. “I put on some weight. I’m at 205 now, so I’m happy about that. I’m looking to put on another five pounds. But overall, my whole skillset improved. I’m just touching up on some areas and getting bigger, stronger and faster.”
He says this camp also helps prospects learn to be professional athletes. “That’s why I really [enjoyed] my time in Norfolk,” he said. “I learned from a lot of the older guys, and I really enjoyed that experience. Being a pro is a lot different than what people think. I’m trying to bring a lot to the table here, impress the coaching staff and hopefully earn a spot.”
As someone who’s familiar with the area, Kerdiles says one of his responsibilities this week is showing his fellow prospects the sights. “I’m trying to show them around, but at the same time I know I’m liable if those guys get hurt doing something,” he said with a laugh. “I’m trying to be careful bringing them to some fun places.”
About the Ducks Prospect Development Camp
The six-day camp focuses on both the on- and off-ice development of the organization’s top young prospects. In addition to on-ice skating sessions, each player will participate in strength and conditioning drills that allow coaches and management to closely evaluate the progress of each athlete. Along with daily weight and aerobic training, each player will also receive a personally tailored nutritional recommendation and be tested for strength thresholds, range of movement and aerobic capacity.
NOTE: Only the two scrimmages (July 4, 7) are open to the public and will be subject to change; visit AnaheimDucks.com for scrimmage dates and times.