The Anaheim Ducks added established NHL winger Valeri Nichushkin and 2 exciting prospects to their organization on Thursday. While Nichushkin is a strong and defensively-responsible player capable of putting the puck in the net (122 points in 343 career NHL games), it’s clear he wasn’t the centerpiece of the deal.
Let’s take a deeper look at the 2 prospects that are now part of Anaheim’s rapidly improving farm system.
Erik Brannstrom, 22, was selected in the first round of the 2017 NHL draft. A future PP quarterback, Brannstrom loves to have the puck on his stick and possesses great passing skills and a good shot. By acquiring Erik, Anaheim has a rising star on the blueline under club control for many years – and he should come with an affordable price tag after this year’s RFA. Brannstrom joins Calen Addison, Scott Perunovich, and Braden Schneider as key parts of the club’s future on the backend – all 23 years old or younger and skilled at moving the puck up ice. All 4 prospects are expected to join Adam Pelech and Jamie Oleksiak – key defensive stalwarts – at the start of next year’s campaign, if not sooner dependent upon any additional personnel changes leading up to this year’s trade deadline.
William Eklund is the second – and perhaps even more coveted – prospect in the deal. A fast, creative forward that can play both center and wing, Eklund was drafted 7th overall as part of the most recent, 2021 draft class. He has great on-ice vision and seemingly fits well with any linemates. His dynamic play has already earned him a 9-game look at the NHL level in his first year of professional eligibility.
Eklund, 19, joins Cole Sillinger, 18, (2021 #12 overall) and Alex Nylander, 23, (2016 #8 overall) as young, hungry forward prospects that have already had a taste of NHL action in Anaheim’s prospect pool.