Ducks opt for bulk and upside on Day 2 of 2023 NHL Draft

Derek Lee-The Sporting Tribune
The Anaheim Ducks targeted size and upside on Day 2 of the 2023 NHL Draft.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Day 2 of the draft certainly didn’t come with as much fanfare for the Ducks as Day 1 but they did enter the second day armed with eight picks and three in the second round alone, including consecutive picks at 59th and 60th overall.

With their first pick of the day at 33rd overall, they selected forward Nico Myatovic from the Seattle Thunderbirds in the WHL. Myatovic had 60 points in 68 games for the Thunderbirds this past season, a large step up from his 2021-22 season, in which he scored 28 points in 67 games. Not only did he improve his offensive game, but he also stepped up on the defensive end as well, becoming an integral cog in Seattle’s penalty kill.

CHL Top Prospects team red forward Nico Myatovic (26) warms up in the CHL Top Prospects ice hockey game at Langley Events Centre. (Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports)

Playing on an absolutely loaded Thunderbirds team that added Arizona’s Dylan Guenther at the end of the season for their playoff run, Myatovic consistently played top-6 minutes all season. At 6-foot-3, size continues to be a common trend for Pat Verbeek dating back to last year’s draft class as well as the selection of Leo Carlsson at second overall last night.

Anaheim went back-to-back with picks 59 and 60, selecting forward Casey Terrance from the Erie Otters in the OHL and goaltender Damian Clara from Färjestad in the SHL. Terrance scored 30 goals for the Otters in 67 games this past season––the only player on the team to eclipse the 20-goal mark.

He is capable of playing both down the middle and on the wing, but assistant manager Martin Madden says the organization and Terrance himself see him more as a winger long-term. Terrance also led the team in total points with 47. As part of an Erie team that was less than stellar, he was by far their best player and also took on a leadership role as one of the alternate captains.

Clara stands at a towering 6-foot-6, the second mountain of a goalie that the Ducks have taken in the last three years after selecting 6-foot-6 Gage Alexander in 2021. Clara spent the past season playing for Färjestad’s U20 team, where he posted a 17-17-0 record with a .903 SV% and 2.79 GAA in 35 games. He also represented Italy at the U18 and U20 World Juniors, where he posted sparkling performances. Clara is the first Italian-born goaltender ever taken in the NHL Draft.

The 65th overall pick saw the Ducks select forward Coulson Pitre from the Flint Firebirds in the OHL. Pitre is a jack of all trades, capable of battling around the net or in the corners and finishing off a play or player. He can set up plays as well and has been a near-point-per-game player for the Firebirds over the past two seasons.

At pick 85, the Ducks took forward Yegor Sidorov from the Saskatoon Blades. Sidorov is a player with good offensive upside, capable of getting himself––and the puck––to the net. After being passed up in his first draft-eligible year, Sidorov returned to Saskatoon and promptly potted 40 goals. He was second on the team in total points with 76 and he followed that up with 19 points in 16 playoff games as well.

With pick 97, the Ducks selected defenseman Konnor Smith from the Peterborough Petes. Smith is a big boy, standing at 6-foot-6 and weighing 209 pounds. With his physical attributes, he adds another heavy body to Anaheim’s defensive cupboard alongside Noah Warren.

“There are very few guys like Konnor in the draft,” said Madden. “He likes to play a mean game and there are so few guys like that anymore in junior hockey.” With proper usage of his tools, he could develop into a solid shutdown defenseman, a role he’s played for the Petes.

The 129th overall pick was used on defenseman Rodwin Dionicio from the Windsor Spitfires. Dionicio is not shy when it comes to handling the puck and uses change of pace and a bevy of fakes to get around opposing players. His manipulation of the puck along the blue line is one of the reasons that he ranks as the best playmaking defenseman in Mitch Brown’s (EP Rinkside) data set of about 1,500 players.

Dionicio upped his game after being traded from the Niagara IceDogs to the Spitfires, putting up 43 points in 33 games. He transitioned from forward to defense two seasons ago and Madden was adamant that Dionicio will be a defenseman permanently moving forward.

To round out their 2023 draft, the Ducks took another defenseman in Vojetch Port from the Edmonton Oil Kings with the 161st pick. Port is another offensive-minded defenseman, similar to Dionicio. He can move the puck and is a threat on the rush. He’s also one of the younger players available in this draft and has plenty of room to grow.

The Ducks once again targeted size after opting for only players over 6-foot-1 last year. This year, every single one of their draft picks was six feet or taller. Anaheim’s Day 2 picks focused on either size or offensive upside for the most part. That was especially noted in the selections of Sidorov, Smith, Diniocio and Port.

After picking up their blue-chip forward prospect in Leo Carlsson on Day 1, the Ducks took a couple of swings on players they believe can turn into NHLers with the right tutelage and upside that was too good to pass up.