Saturday, July 19, 2008

Anaheim Badgers - 2008 Draft Review

Hockey's future has posted it's review of Anaheim's 2008 draft selections. Included, of course, are incoming Badger Jake Gardiner and and '09 recruits Justin Schultz and Nick Pryor.

Jake Gardiner, D - MN-HS Minnetonka
17th overall
Jul. 4, 1990, 6'1, 173

Gardiner is a converted forward who has only been playing defense for one season. He played the 2007-08 season on his Minnetonka High School team in Minnesota, where he was one of the finalists for the Mr. Hockey award for the top high school player in the state. Gardiner is a very fast and explosive skater, who projects as an offensive blue liner in the NHL. He scored 16 goals and added 27 assists last season in 25 games.

He is committed to playing for the University of Wisconsin Badgers this fall, a program coached by Mike Eaves that is well respected for producing and recruiting top-notch defensemen. Badgers' assistant coach Mark Osiecki works with the defensemen, and he is one of the best college coaches for tutoring young defenders and preparing them to play the pro game. Gardiner should have a great opportunity to learn his new position with the Badgers. He will need a few seasons of development, but when he emerges, Gardiner could well be a real gem.

Justin Schultz, D - BCHL Westside
43rd overall
Jul. 6, 1990, 6'1, 163

An offensive defenseman from the BCHL, Schultz continues Anaheim's trend of choosing players who were big risers in the draft. Little known at the start of the season, Schultz's offensive upside was high enough that some experts were seeing him as a potential first rounder in the draft. Schultz had 40 points in 57 games for Westside, and was named the Top Defenseman of his conference in the BCHL, which is no small feat for a 17-year-old.

Schultz has really good hockey sense, is very good at moving the puck, and has a special knack for creating offense from the back end. Obviously, the big knock on Schultz at 6'1, 163 is his size. He will have to get stronger and prove himself capable of handling bigger opponents before he is ready to play pro hockey.

Another University of Wisconsin recruit, Schultz will return to Westside next season for another year, before joining the Badgers for the 2009-10 season.

Nick Pryor, D – USNTDP U-18
208th overall
Sep. 9, 1990, 5’11, 184

Pryor is a 5'11 offensive defenseman. He is a very good skater and moves the puck well. He needs to get stronger in order to be able to handle larger forwards down low. Pryor had 14 points in 53 games with the National Development Program’s U-18 team. At the the U18 Championship in Kazan, he was held pointless in seven games.

One of the youngest players eligible for this year’s draft, Pryor will play for the Des Moines Buccaneers of the USHL this season before attending the University of Wisconsin in 2009. Pryor was the third Badgers recruit selected by the Ducks in 2008.