Anaheim Ducks Ranked Second in The Hockey News 2023 Future Watch Issue

The Ducks are ranked second in this year’s installment of The Hockey News Future Watch issue, marking the second straight year Anaheim has earned a top-two placement in the annual poll of the NHL’s top 21-and-under prospects. Mintyukov, the tenth overall selection in last year’s NHL draft, leads all Canadian Hockey League (OHL, QMJHL, WHL) defensemen with 79 points this season. Earlier this year, he became the first player in the Ontario Hockey League’s 90-year history to be named the Defenseman of the Month for three straight months. Mintyukov is the only OHL defenseman to rank among the league’s top-20 scoring leaders, currently 12th, and paces league blueliners in points, points-per-game (1.27, min.

35 GP) and assists. Zellweger, a 2021 second-round pick with two World Junior Championships now on his resume, leads all Western Hockey League defenders in goals (28) and points-per-game (1.50) this season. Since joining the Kamloops Blazers, who will host the year’s Memorial Cup, in a midseason trade, Zellweger has 44 points and a +37 rating in 25 appearances. Recently, Zellweger became the first WHL defenseman in over two decades with back-to-back 70-point seasons.

Zellweger’s Memorial Cup appearance will mark the sixth straight year a Ducks prospect has competed in the tournament. The former second-round pick has posted his personal-best totals in goals and points this season. Luneau is the only QMJHL blueliner to lead his team in scoring this season. Winger Sasha Pastujov, a third-round pick in 2021, currently ranks fifth among OHL leaders in scoring (38-48=86), fourth in points per game (1.63), and seventh in goals.

Since joining Sarnia in a November trade, Pastujov has scored 27-40=67 points in 39 games with the Sting. Nesterenko concluded his Boston College tenure with the best season of his collegiate career, posting personal-high marks in points (13-21=34), goals and assists. Defenseman Tyson Hinds paces QMJHL defenseman, and ranks fourth among league leaders overall, in plus/minus (+51). Only two other league blueliners, one being Luneau, owns a +45 mark or better.

Known more for his defensive prowess, Hinds still ranks fourth among QMJHL defenders in points-per-game and seventh in total scoring (11-38=49). Jaxsen Wiebe has points in eight straight games (2-8=10) and 34 points in 37 WHL games this season. Kyle Kukkonen was named the CCHA Rookie of the Year with the fifth-most goals by a freshman in Michigan Tech history. Kukkonen led all CCHA rookies in goals (18), earned three CCHA Rookie of the Week honors and recorded two separate six-game point streaks.

Vyascheslav Buteyets led all VHL (Russia’s second division) goaltenders 21-and-younger in wins (18), shutouts (3) and appearances (35), and ranked second in GAA (2.11) and third in SV% (.933). Among all VHL goaltenders, he ranked in the top-10 in wins (sixth), SV% (seventh) and shutouts (10th). He allowed two goals or fewer in each of his final eight regular season starts. In addition to the five ranked prospects, and the several others excelling at the junior and collegiate levels, the Ducks have a treasure chest of early draft picks over the next three years.

Following the trade deadline, Anaheim owns six picks in the first three rounds of the 2023 NHL Draft and nine selections overall. The Ducks also have 12 selections in the first three rounds of the next two drafts (19 overall in the next two drafts).

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