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Ducks lead camp with six prospects

by Adam Kimelman

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- Twenty-six NHL teams have at least one prospect in attendance at this week's National Junior Evaluation Camp, but none has more than the six members of the Anaheim Ducks organization who started the week here.

Forward Nicolas Kerdiles, goalie John Gibson, and defensemen Andrew Welinski and Brian Cooper from the United States, and defenseman Hampus Lindholm and center William Karlsson from Sweden took part in the camp, and with the exception of Cooper -- cut from the U.S. team Tuesday -- will play in the remainder of the exhibition games.

"We've drafted kids that we like and we've had our fair share of picks in the top three rounds in the last two years," Ducks director of amateur scouting Martin Madden told "They've continued to develop and are doing well within their own countries' system. It's encouraging for us, for sure."

Lindholm, whom the Ducks took with the sixth pick of the 2012 NHL Draft to the surprise of some, had an assist in Sweden's 8-2 win against Finland on Tuesday. Madden said he's liked what he's seen from the 6-foot-3, 195-pound blueliner.

Regardless of what happens this week, Madden said he's confident Lindholm has a big future.

"We saw him in our development camp a month ago and in Sweden at their camp last week," Madden said. "We're not too concerned about him making this team."

Another player who seems like a good bet to be heading to Russia for the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship is Gibson, whom the Ducks selected in the second round of the 2011 draft. Gibson was the backup to Jack Campbell on last year's WJC team that finished seventh. He played one game, stopping 23 of 27 shots in a 4-1 loss to Finland, but suffered a concussion when he was hit in the head by a puck.

He missed a month of action, but recovered to finish 21-10-0 in 32 games with the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League last season, posting a league-leading .928 save percentage.

"I think he's continued to grow as far as confidence, in terms of stamina, playing more games in Kitchener," Madden said. "He had a bit of a setback with the injury at the World Junior last year, but he rebounded well, had a real good playoffs for Kitchener. We're looking for great things from him this year."

Karlsson, also a 2011 second-round pick, has raised the bar with his recent performance. One of six players to win a gold medal with Sweden at the 2012 World Junior Championship currently in Lake Placid, he had a hat trick in Sweden's rout of Finland, including the go-ahead goal in the second period.

"William made the Swedish team last December as probably a fourth-line guy and finished in the top two lines," Madden said. "I know they're counting on him as a top-line player this year. So he's got more pressure. He's gotten stronger and this is a different kind of challenge for him. He probably needs to prove as much as anybody on that Swedish team. I think that's a good test for him."

Having so many prospects competing for spots at a high-level showcase like the World Junior Championship certainly bodes well for the Ducks' future.

"Hopefully within two years a few of those kids make an impact for us," Madden said. "Hopefully those guys will make an impact for us sooner rather than later."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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