Welcome to Last Word’s Draft Boom and Bust series. As the 2020 NHL Entry Draft approaches, we decided to examine each team’s best and worst pick since the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. The biggest boom is a player that had the best value relative to where they were selected. Meaning, no one in the first round will be considered a team’s best value pick. However, the biggest bust picks will almost always be in the first round. We will examine each player, why they were picked where they were, and what their NHL career was like. Today, we look at the Anaheim Ducks draft, and their biggest boom and bust.
Anaheim Ducks Draft Boom and Bust
Josh Manson is the best Anaheim Ducks draft pick for value. Manson was picked 160th overall in the sixth round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Manson’s path to the NHL wasn’t as straight-forward as other picks. Lots of players go through the Western Hockey League, however, Manson played in the British Columbia Hockey League. He would then go to the NCAA after his draft year. Playing in a lesser-known league like the BCHL may be a reason Manson fell farther in the draft.
After he was drafted, he moved to College where he played NCAA Division 1 hockey for Northeastern University. His play during his junior year was rewarded when he was selected as Hockey East’s best defensive defenseman. He was named to the 2013-14 Hockey East Second All-Star team. In March 2014 he chose to forgo his senior year of eligibility at Northeastern University and signed a two-year entry-level deal with the Ducks.
He was immediately assigned to the Norfolk Admirals, at the time the Ducks primary AHL affiliate. He played the 2014-15 season bouncing between the AHL and NHL. When he made the fulltime jump into the NHL he was playing in the Ducks stacked defensive corps. Making a name for yourself while playing with Sami Vatanen, Hampus Lindholm, and Cam Fowler wasn’t easy but he found is place. He played well along with Lindholm and together they slowly became the number one defensive pair.
Today, he is still top of the fledgling defensive corps. He wears a hard-earned letter on his chest. Manson plays with grit, rarely failing to finish a check and never backing down from a challenge. He won’t find the highlight reel for goal scoring but he will find it for defending his team. Manson has been a player who has managed to put up solid advanced numbers too. The Ducks haven’t had the greatest advanced statistics as of late, however, Manson has been positive in most aspects of his game. His all-round skill is what made him so valuable and has gotten him to where he is today. As someone who was taken in the sixth round, he has provided tons of value to the Ducks organization.
Other Notable Booms
Matt Beleskey was chosen in the fourth round of the 2006 draft. He found his stride playing alongside Ryan Kesler in 2015, which was his best season. However, Belesky has found himself almost out of the league since 2017. He hasn’t played more than 15 games since 2016-17.
Vatanen was selected in the fourth round of the 2009 draft. He is still an extremely effective player in the NHL. He played eight seasons for the Ducks before being traded to the New Jersey Devils and has since been traded to the Carolina Hurricanes. His overall impact just hasn’t been as much as Manson. Manson was also drafted later which provided even more of a case for the biggest boom. However, Vatanen has still had a great career.
Stanislav Chistov is who came in for the biggest Anaheim Ducks draft bust since 2000. Starting his career, the Russian left-winger played junior hockey for the Georgetown Raiders as part of the Junior A Hockey League. He then moved onto his pro career playing for Avangard Omsk in the Russian Super League prior to the formation of the KHL.
In his first three seasons as a pro, he had 37 points (21g, 16a) in 63 games. His play impressed the Mighty Ducks scouting staff so much that the Ducks used the number five overall pick in the 2001 NHL entry draft. This was after his first KHL season where he had 12 points in 24 games. The year prior he had played just three games. He was chosen between Stanley Cup champion Stephen Weiss and longtime captain Mikko Koivu.
He had high expectations placed on him. His rookie season he managed 30 points (12g, 18a) in 79 games with the Mighty Ducks who made a run all the way to the Stanley Cup finals. His sophomore season saw him fall off, only managing 18 points (2g, 16a) in 56 games. He played the majority of the next two seasons playing for the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks of the AHL. Instead of playing for the Cincinnati during the 2005 lockout, he chose to go play for Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the RSL. He played well, having the chance to play alongside Evgeni Malkin.
He signed his last NHL contract to date during the summer of 2006. It was a two-year one-way contract with the Ducks. Not lasting very long with the newly minted Anaheim Ducks, he only played one game with the team before he was traded to the Boston Bruins. He played 60 games for the Bruins to end his NHL career. He played in the KHL until 2017-18, never putting up more than 40 points.
For a lottery pick, he just wasn’t good enough. Going fifth overall in the most competitive and talented league in the world he only managed 61 (19g, 42a) points in 196 total NHL games.
Other Notable Busts
Alexei Smirnov, chosen 12th overall in the 2000 draft and only played 52 NHL games before leaving the league for good. The slightly lower pick makes him less of a bust, however. As a top-five pick should almost be guaranteed to help out the team.
Nick Ritchie, while still an NHL regular did disappoint. Chosen number 10 overall in the 2014 draft. He has a place on the right teams, but he never lived up to his draft position. In the juniors and AHL, he was nearly a point-per-game player. That skillset just didn’t translate into the NHL.