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30 in 30

Top prospects for Anaheim Ducks

Defenseman Shea Theodore, forward Nick Ritchie primed for NHL roles

by Abbey Mastracco / Correspondent is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 30 teams throughout August. Today, the Anaheim Ducks.

The Anaheim Ducks' prospect pool very closely mirrors the main roster: depth on the blue line and strong up the middle. These themes reflect the values of general manager Bob Murray, who will never pass up a big, strong center or a mobile, puck-moving defenseman. 

The only problem seems to be finding room for top, young players with so much depth, especially when it comes to defensemen. A few players will likely further their NHL resumes this season, but training camp will determine whether some will finally contribute consistently.

Here are the Ducks' top five prospects, according to

1. Shea Theodore, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 26 pick in 2013 NHL Draft

Last season: Anaheim: 19 GP, 3-5-8, San Diego (AHL): 50 GP, 9-28-37

Theodore (6-foot-2, 195 pounds) showed flashes of brilliance last season but ultimately struggled with consistency at the NHL level. Theodore made good use of an Amtrak pass and the recently-completed train station across the street from Honda Center, where he often traveled from San Diego to Anaheim to skate with the Ducks. When he was finally pressed into service on an injury-plagued blue line, he more than held his own, averaging 19:07 of ice time in 19 NHL games.

A smooth-skating offensive defenseman, Theodore, 21, had five points in seven Calder Cup Playoff games with San Diego last season and excels on the power play. The only thing holding him back is a loaded blue line. 

Projected NHL arrival: This season

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Video: OTT@ANA: Theodore nets first career goal

2. Nick Ritchie, LW

How acquired: Selected with No. 10 pick in 2014 NHL Draft

Last season: Anaheim: 33 GP, 2-2-4; San Diego (AHL): 38 GP, 16-14-30

Murray expressed his desire for a big left wing at the NHL Trade Deadline. Unable to find one, he reiterated that desire after the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Look for Ritchie (6-2, 232) to fill that void.

A prototypical power forward, Ritchie, 20, benefited from spending time on the top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry last season. Ritchie averaged nearly a point per game in the Calder Cup Playoffs for San Diego (eight points in nine games) and scored five goals.

With experience to build on and a need for size on the left side, Ritchie should be able to break camp as an NHL forward.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

Video: NJD@ANA: Ritchie scores first goal of NHL career

3. Brandon Montour, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 55 pick in 2014 NHL Draft

Last season: San Diego (AHL): 68 GP, 12-45-57

Another two-way defenseman, Montour (6-0, 192) was San Diego's highest-scoring defenseman last season and tied for the team lead in points. Another strong skater and puck mover, Montour, 22, is more physical and aggressive than some of Anaheim's current defensemen such as Theodore, Cam Fowler and Hampus Lindholm.

Montour has had a risky style of play in the past but in his first AHL season he was able to refine his skills. The Ducks have been hesitant to part with him, content to let him develop in San Diego. A good training camp might get him on Anaheim's roster, but he's still behind Theodore in the system. 

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

4. Jacob Larsson, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 27 pick in 2015 NHL Draft

Last season: Frolunda (Sweden): 47 GP, 5-9-14

Larsson (6-2, 192) had a strong season in the Swedish Hockey League and finished 2015-16 by playing one game for San Diego in the AHL playoffs. The 19-year-old played big minutes in the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship for Sweden and a full season in San Diego may be next. Regardless of where Larsson plays, the Ducks aren't anxious to rush his development.

The type of mobile defenseman that Murray likes to stockpile, Larsson is a smart passer with scoring touch. Larsson possesses good size for his age and is still adding muscle to his frame.

Projected NHL arrival: 2018-19

Video: 30 in 30: Anaheim Ducks 2016-17 season preview

5. Stefan Noesen, RW

How acquired: In trade with Ottawa Senators, July 5, 2013

Last season: Anaheim, 1 GP, 0-0-0; San Diego (AHL) 65 GP, 10-22-32

Noesen (6-1, 205) was once so highly regarded that he was compared to Perry. A Texas native selected in the first round (No. 21) of the 2011 draft by the Senators, Noesen came to the Ducks with right wing Jakob Silfverberg in a trade for forward Bobby Ryan. But a torn ACL and Achilles prevented Noesen, 23, from progressing in his first two seasons in the AHL. Noesen has worked his way back and appears to be on the verge of a roster spot.

Aside from the numbers, Noesen has shown a strong resolve and work ethic. The Ducks gave him a vote of confidence with a one-year contract on July 25. Noesen has slowly built himself back up and showed how far he has come in the AHL playoffs when he had seven points (two goals, five assists) in nine games.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

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