Monday, July 16, 2018

31 Teams in 31 Days - Anaheim Ducks

We start at the beginning of the alphabet again this year which means that the Anaheim Ducks are the first team with a write-up.

1. Max Jones - London Knights/Kingston Frontenacs
The good news? Max Jones went the year without getting suspended once! The bad news, he had another injury shortened season. Thanks to a broken finger injury and a trip to Buffalo for the WJC's, Jones was limited to 31 games in the OHL regular season, his lowest total to date. He also posted his lowest points per game average in his three year OHL career (lower than his draft season). The goals were there in London, but after a trade to Kingston the finger injury happened and he never really found chemistry in that line-up and struggled in the playoffs. In the playoffs, he also struggled to control his temper and maintain discipline; epitomized by a Game 4 freakout in the Eastern Conference finals that saw him earn a game misconduct (ironically the only game of the series that Kingston would win). I think you could also say that Jones didn't really improve a ton as a player this year. Skill wise, what you see is what you get. He's a powerful skater who can drive the net, has a good shot release and can dictate the physicality of a game. But I'm not sure he has the hockey sense and playmaking ability to be a consistent top 6 forward. That part of his game just never really developed in his three years in the OHL. Next year he'll turn pro and will likely suit up in the AHL, as playing a top 9 role with some powerplay time would be better for his development than playing an energy role on Anaheim's 4th line. I would expect him to be around the 20 goal mark in his rookie AHL year.

2. Jack Kopacka - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
A very good season for Kopacka. Nice uptick in production as he inched closer to the point per game mark and had a terrific postseason, finishing 2nd in goals for the Greyhounds in the playoffs. Kopacka continued to round out his game, improving his play without the puck, using his speed to be a factor in pursuit. Not just a North/South player now, Kopacka showed an ability to slow the game down a bit, working the wall and really improving his ability to work in the offensive zone, through give and go's, the cycle, and overall puck protection. He's still not a very physical player, given his size at 6'3, 200lbs. But he has a nice skill set and has really progressed to become a solid, well rounded player. Kopacka will also turn pro this coming year. The question I have is, where does Kopacka fit in as a pro? The skill set is nice, but not elite. Perhaps not quite at the level needed for a top 6 winger at the NHL level. The size, speed, and improved three zone play are pluses, but his physical intensity level may not be high enough to make him an ideal bottom 6 player. But he improved every year in the OHL and if Anaheim is patient, they could have a Zach Hyman kind of player on their hands. A 15/15 first pro season is a realistic expectation.

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