Even though in 2012 the Anaheim Ducks suffered their worst regular season finish in eight years, there is a ton to be excited about moving forward for Ducks hockey. Over the years the organization has compiled a solid group of hard working, blue-collar prospects, several which are on the cusp of NHL careers. The list may be void of a true stand out "superstar" but the Ducks have compiled a plethora of solid puck-moving defenseman and gritty and talented forwards. Names like Emerson Etem, Sami Vatanen, and Nicolas Kerdiles are just a few on a long list that is filled with potential.
Here are some of the players to keep an eye on as we start the 2012-2013 AHL, CHL, European, and amateur seasons:
Top Pro Prospect
Emerson Etem, RW, Norfolk Admirals (AHL)
Etem, a 29th overall pick by the Ducks in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, is coming off his best season ever with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL. In 2011-2012 he accumulated 107 points over 65 games, including a league-high 61 goals. He also recorded 13 points in seven games for the Tigers in the WHL playoffs. Etem, 20, will start the year off with the Ducks AHL affiliate the Norfolk Admirals. It will be a big season for Etem as he adjusts to the speed and physicality of professional hockey and continues to fill out his 6'0 frame and get stronger. Among the Ducks prospects, Etem has the best all-around skill set to be a successful top-six forward at the next level. A full year of AHL play with the occasional call up will help him as he continues to grow and develop his game. That being said, there is nothing stopping the California native from succeeding at the NHL level in the near future.