The Anaheim Ducks had the worst record in the NHL this season, so obviously they have a lot of issues to address this draft. This is a mock draft for the Anaheim Ducks in the 2023 NHL Draft.
1. Connor Bedard, C, Regina Pats/WHL
Connor Bedard is one of the most hyped-up prospects coming into the NHL since Connor McDavid and thus far has not disappointed, as he has exceeded expectations at every level he played at. Bedard is going to be a special player in the NHL and is a franchise-changing player; the question is will the Anaheim Ducks who have a 25% odds to land the 1st overall pick win the draft lottery. He has such an incredible wrist shot that you could drop him in the NHL this year and he’d feast; his wrist shot is absolutely deadly and will be one of the best shots in the league for a long time. If Bedard was only an excellent shooter, he would be a lot easier to shut down, but he also has elite playmaking, vision, skating, stickhandling, creativity, and above all, hockey IQ/Sense. After entering the WHL a year early, Bedard showed the world what he’s made of in his second year with the Regina Pats, scoring an absurd 51 goals and 100 points in 62 games. He one-upped himself in the 2022-23 season, scoring 71 goals, 72 assists, and 143 points in 57 regular season games with the Regina Pats, along with an absurd 10 goals and 20 points in 7 playoff games. Bedard was all-world at the U20 WJC, scoring 9 goals, 14 assists, and 23 points in 7 games, including the Gold Medal clinching goal for Canada. There is no doubt that Connor Bedard will be a superstar talent in the league, the question is how soon that will be and what team that will be for. If the Anaheim Ducks are able to land Connor Bedard, they will have a very deadly young core for a long time.
22. Kasper Halttunen, RW, HIFK/Liiga
Kasper Halttunen is a force to be reckoned with in regard to both his offensive capabilities and physical style. He possesses a strong and powerful one-timer along with a quick wrist shot.
He’s got a wonderful blend of skill, size, and power. I think he’s in the formative stages of just getting comfortable with his game. Halttunen looked like a man amongst boys at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup, where he put up 3 points in 5 games and was a dominant play-driving force. He’s already got a pro-built frame at 6’3/207, and his game is already Taylormade for the NHL as a power forward. Halttunen is a big right-handed winger with a perfect shot and the ability to play a power game. The big Finnish winger started the season with HIFK U20, putting up 18 goals and 24 points in 18 games before being moved to the HIFK team to play in the Pro League, where he registered only 1 point in 27 games. With Finland’s U18 team at the U18 WJC, Halttunen had 6 goals and 10 points in 5 games. Kasper Halttunen has the potential to develop into a unique player that can be both a power forward and goal scorer in the NHL, which is something that every NHL team covets. Being in the Western Conference, the Anaheim Ducks need to build a team that is both skilled and physical, and Kasper Halttunen fits both of those categories; the great thing about Kasper is that he can either play alongside Connor Bedard and McTavish or play alongside Trevor Zegras.
33. Theo Lindstein, D, Brynäs IF/HockeyAllsvenskan
There was a lot of hype surrounding Theo Lindstein coming into his draft season, which tends to happen when you split most of your age-16 season between the top junior league in Sweden (J20 Nationell) and the SHL which is one of the very best professional hockey leagues in the world. While the Lindstein hype train has slowed down considerably this season, there are still plenty of reasons to be excited about his game and the potential he has as a two-way defender. Theo Lindstein is a Defensive minded blueliner with a quality point shot and understated offensive instincts. Lindstein is a powerful skater with a very smooth stride which allows him to backcheck effectively and makes him a dangerous player on the rush. His high hockey IQ makes him a great off-puck player, allowing him to find open ice in the offensive zone and anticipate playing well on his own end. Lindstein also has a really good shot for such a young defender, hard and accurate enough to be effective as either a goalscoring tool or as a playmaking tool. The biggest thing that Lindstein needs to work on is pace, or his ability to make the right plays while under pressure at the speed of the pro game. Lindstein’s stats are nothing mindblowing, he appeared in 32 SHL games, recording 2 points in those contests, and in 14 games with the J20 squad, Lindstein scored 7 points in 14 games. While his 2022-23 season wasn’t as impressive as his 2021-22 campaign, Lindstein still projects to be a quality top-4 defenseman at the NHL level. The Anaheim Ducks need more defensive-minded defensemen in the pipeline,
and the hope is that he can one day be the D partner alongside Jamie Drysdale.
57. Lenni Hämeenaho, RW/LW, Ässät / Liiga
Lenni Hämeenaho is a solid complimentary winger who excels battling around the net and along the boards. Although Hämeenaho is listed at 6-0 and 174 pounds, when you watch him play, he seems a lot bigger than that. He is capable of playing physically and goes to all the dirty areas of the ice, and excels in front of the net, where he is very good at battling hard with defensemen, creating screens for goalies, and fighting for loose pucks. Hämeenaho is a solid skater, but he needs to add more quickness and separation speed. His puck skills and shot are good, but he doesn’t shoot enough. Lenni played for Ässät’s Liiga squad, scoring 9 goals, 12 assists, and 21 points in 51 games, along with 4 points in 8 playoff games. For Finland at the U20 WJC, he had 2 points in 5 games and was a valuable part of the team. Hämeenaho looks like a good prospect with a safe floor but he also has some intriguing upside and untapped potential. The Ducks need a player who is willing to go to the dirty areas to score goals and create havoc for other teams, and Hämeenaho is just the player for that.
65. Anton Wahlberg, C, Malmö Redhawks / SHL
Anton Wahlberg is a powerful two-way center, who dominates in transition, plays a refined defensive game, and has shown impressive offensive creativity and goalscoring ability.
Anton Wahlberg is a late riser in the 2023 draft class. His SHL performances in the back half of the season have been very impressive and are a reason why he is rapidly rising on draft boards.
Wahlberg tilts the ice in his team’s favor in just about every facet of the game apart from playmaking. He’s a sound defensive player who has flashed impressive tenacity and intensity on the fore and backcheck at times this season. He’s a strong skater, especially for a player that is 6’3 and is a very good puck carrier through the neutral zone. There is much to like about this player but also some cause for concern. In the J20, he was often inefficient and between flashes of brilliance and end-to-end rushes, he was regularly disengaged, however, for whatever reason it all came together in the SHL. In 32 games with the Malmo Redhawks J20 team, Wahlberg scored 14 goals and 27 points in 32 games; then put up 4 points in 17 games in the SHL with the Malmo Redhawks. Playing for Sweden’s U18 team at the U18 WJC, Anton put up 3 goals and 6 points in 7 games. Anton Wahlberg looks to be a top 9 forward with a Top 6 upside, but he more likely will be a valuable bottom 6 player. The Anaheim Ducks are looking for players that can play multiple roles in the lineup, are versatile, and fill roles on their 3rd line, and Wahlberg would fit the bill of a great third-line center.
97. Matteo Mann, D, Chicoutimi Saguenéens/QMJHL
Matteo Mann is a Big, Right Handed Shooting Defenseman, with a 6 foot 6/225 pound frame. Anytime you get a chance to get a 6’6, right-handed shooting defenseman in the 5th round, you do it. Mann is a big, physical right-shot defenceman to their prospect pool, Chicoutimi Saguenéens’ Matteo Mann may be exactly what they are looking for. The 6-foot-6 defenceman isn’t shy about using his size, knocking the opposing teams’ players down to the ice every chance he gets. Not only can he disturb the play with a physical hit, but he also shows that he can use his long reach to knock the puck off the opposition’s stick on a consistent basis.
For a 6’6 defenseman, he is pretty mobile and has good skating abilities. At this point in his career, he is strictly a defensive defenseman, and if he is just that, that will be fine because of his size and length. The Ducks have a great crop of young defensemen already and along with Theo Lindstein, who they drafted early in the draft, are starting to put together a scary D core for the future.
129. Jiri Felcman, C, Langnau U20/U20-Elit
Jiri Felcman is a big 6 foot 4 Center, Czech-born center, playing for Langnau U20 in Switzerland’s U20-Elit league; he is putting together a pretty good year, with 31 points in 40 games and 8 points in 9 playoff games. At the U18 WJC, Felcman had 2 points in 5 games for Czechia. When in doubt, draft big centers, who have the potential to fill out the bottom 6 in the future. Felchman is obviously still very raw in his development, so it will take a few years before he is NHL ready but if he does pan out he can be a valuable 4th line center, with some offensive upside someday. Fechman is a solid puck for Anaheim because he gives them center depth in the prospect
161. Juraj Pekarcik, LW/C, HK Nitra/Slovakia
Juraj Pekarcik is a versatile forward, capable of playing Wing and Center, with a pro-sized frame, and as one of the youngest players in the draft, he still has plenty of room left for improvement. Pekarcik has a dynamic skillset, is creative and strong with the puck, and does everything well. He played HK Nitra and HK Nitra’s U20 team this season; with the U20 team, Pekarcik scored 9 goals, 11 assists, and 20 points in 16 games. Then in the playoffs, he scored 5 points in 5 playoff games with the U20 team. Playing against men in Slovakia’s top Pro League, he appeared in 30 games and registered 3 points, and didn’t seem out of place. At the U18 WJC, he put up 3 goals and 10 points in 7 games for Slovakia. Juraj Pekarcik would be an awesome late-round pick for the Ducks because he gives them a good-size player who can play multiple positions, that can one day fill a role in the bottom 6.
Connor Bedard (C)
Kasper Halttunen (RW)
Theo Lindstein (D)
Lenni Hämeenaho, RW/LW
Anton Wahlberg (C)
Matteo Mann (D)
Juraj Pekarcik (LW/C)