NHL.com is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, the Anaheim Ducks.
The Anaheim Ducks perennially have one of the deepest farm systems in the NHL and have two defensemen prepared to join a lineup already as deep at that position as any team in the League.
[DUCKS 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Fantasy breakdown | Behind the numbers]
Here are the Ducks' top five prospects, according to NHL.com:
1. Brandon Montour, D
How acquired: Selected with No. 55 pick in 2014 NHL Draft
Last season: Anaheim: 27 GP, 2-4-6; San Diego (AHL): 36 GP, 13-19-32
Considering how well Montour, 23, played in the stretch drive and into the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, it's easy to overlook that he played 27 regular-season games, and if he appeared in three fewer he would be eligible for the Calder Trophy this season. Montour (6-foot, 192 pounds) has always been able to produce offense; what endeared him to Ducks coach Randy Carlyle was his hockey sense, which allows him to know when to jump into the holes and when to back off, usually the hardest thing for any young defenseman to learn. His NHL readiness permitted Anaheim to trade Shea Theodore to the Vegas Golden Knights to protect other players in the NHL Expansion Draft.
Projected NHL arrival: This season
2. Jacob Larsson, D
How acquired: Selected with No. 27 pick in 2015 NHL Draft
Last season: Anaheim: 4 GP, 0-0-0; San Diego (AHL): 4 GP, 0-2-2; Frolunda (Sweden): 29 GP, 1-4-5
Larsson (6-2, 191) has some of the same competitiveness and strength in his game as Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm. The 20-year-old joined Anaheim following Frolunda's 2016 season.
Projected NHL arrival: Next season
3. Sam Steel, C
How acquired: Selected with No. 30 pick in 2016 NHL Draft
Last season: Regina (WHL): 66 GP, 50-81-131
Steel (5-11, 178) is a skilled center who helped Regina reach the Western Hockey League Final last season. He turns 20 on Feb. 3, but with Anaheim's depth at center, there is no need to rush him. He has the ability to eventually play a top-six role.
Projected NHL arrival: 2019-20
4. Nic Kerdiles, LW
How acquired: Selected with No. 36 pick in 2012 NHL Draft
Last season: Anaheim: 1 GP, 0-0-0; San Diego (AHL): 27 GP, 7-8-15
With Nate Thompson leaving to sign with the Ottawa Senators, the Ducks have a vacancy for a depth forward, and Kerdiles (6-2, 191), who grew up in Irvine, California, will get a chance to fill that void. After three seasons in the system, the 23-year-old, who played for teammate Patrick Eaves' father at the University of Wisconsin, has the sort of rugged approach Carlyle favors.
Projected arrival: This season
5. Max Jones, LW
How acquired: Selected with No. 24 pick in 2016 NHL Draft
Last season: London (OHL): 33 GP, 17-19-36; San Diego (AHL): 9 playoff GP, 1-1-2
Jones, 19, played a supporting role on London's 2016 Memorial Cup championship team behind Mitchell Marner (Toronto Maple Leafs), Matthew Tkachuk (Calgary Flames) and Christian Dvorak (Arizona Coyotes), and was asked to play a greater role last season. Known as a tenacious two-way player who doesn't mind mixing it up in the corners, Jones (6-3, 203) continues in the Ducks' tradition of big players on the wings.
Projected arrival: 2019-20