Martin Madden, the Ducks’ director of amateur scouting, said his first draft with Anaheim went “very well.”
“In a draft situation, there’s so many permutations that people will tell you it doesn’t go exactly how it wanted to … but they’re trying to fool you. Some guys we would have liked, but you look back and you look at the players that we did get, and they all add up to the modus operandi we had for this job: To find kids with talent who compete with passion. I think we were able to do that from the first pick to the last.”
Madden, general manager Bob Murray and company certianly bucked one trend of the Brian Burke era: Of the Ducks’ seven selections, two were Canadian, two were American, and three were born in Europe (specifically Russia, Finland and Slovakia).
That’s more international flavor than Burke (to borrow a pun from his own phraseology) might sample at a United Nations banquet. In the previous three drafts combined, the Ducks took four European players and 19 from North America.
“It’s certainly not by design that we ended up with fewer Canadians than in past years,” Madden said. “We worked on our list five different times. We analyzed it five different times. We had characteristics we were looking for in players. Even Brian Burke would agree it doesn’t matter what nationality they are as long as players play with heart, desire and character off the ice; that they have a self-starter attitude. We took a few big swings to try to hit some home runs in the middle of the draft. We’ll see how those turn out, but we’re really happy with the quality of the individuals. The bottom line is, that’s good enough for us: Canadian, Finnish, American or Slovakian.”
Here’s what Madden had to say about the second-round picks:
Matt Clark, defenseman, second round (37th overall):
“A big, athletic, very explosive defensive defenseman. He’s 6-4, 215, an impressive physical specimen. He plays the game hard, makes a good first pass, has good hockey sense and he’s a kid who has gone through a great progression. He was waiting to go to college two, three years ago, but Brampton offered a deal he couldn’t refuse. He progressed, his progression was constant. This past season he played in the OHL, where he will play again next year, and he has been invited to Canadian National under-20 camp. He will compete for a roster spot on the Canadian junior team in December. He’ll turn pro the following year.”
Sami Vatanen, defenseman, fourth round (106th overall):
“There’s no doubt that he’s small (5-foot-9). He brings heart and his cajones are really big. He’s just a great competitor with a lot of talent. There’s no doubt that physically he needs to get bigger. He’s 165 pounds. We think we have the resources to help him. He played against men this year. He’s going to be on a first pairing in the Finnish Elite League next year. He’s going to run their power play. He’s a talented, competitive kid. If he turns out, he’ll someday run the power play for the Anaheim Ducks. He’s a huge fan of Scott Niedermayer and made that clear in our interview in Toronto. He loves the way (Niedermayer) thinks the game. Hopefully he’s able to make our rookie camp.”
Radoslav Illo, forward, fifth round (136th overall):
“He was under the radar. He played for a terrible Tri-City team in the USHL this year. He was hurt for most of the first half of the season, then he caught on fire late in the season. He scored 21 goals and eight were power play goals. He played for the Slovak team in April and led that team in scoring. He was offered a spot with the under-20 select national team next year, but I don’t think he’s going to stay there. I think he’s going to come back to North America. Will he play junior hockey in Canada? We’ll have to determine that. He’s an outstanding skater with great shot. He’s not a physical player, he’s a skilled player who goes to the hard areas.”
Scott Valentine, defenseman, sixth round (166th overall):
“Valentine is a defensive defenseman. A very good skater, very good competitor. He was traded from London to Oshawa in the big Tavares deal at Christmastime. He flourished in Oshawa. He tends to chase it. He’s a really aggressive kid. He competes like crazy and has the skating ability to recover. He needs to play a little more within himself. I’d rather have a kid you need to pull back a little bit than a kid you need to push. He will be back in Oshawa next year running the power play, but I don’t see any offense in his game.”