The first round of the NHL draft took place Friday night, and it was more than obvious that Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin would go No. 1 and 2 in the draft, and they did. The question now was who was going to be the No. 3 overall selection by the Florida Panthers?
I would have guessed that they would have picked Cam Fowler, but when I was following the draft on NHL.com, they selected defenseman Erik Gudbranson of the Kingston Frontenacs. The draft progressed, with eight more teams passing on Fowler, including the New York Rangers, who also selected a defender, Dylan McIrath.
When it came to my team, the Anaheim Ducks, it seemed a little obvious who they were going to select. And when they did select him, while listening to NHL radio's coverage of the draft, I semi-pumped my fist in the air, and whispered to myself "yes."
That's right, Cam Fowler was drafted by the Ducks.
In a way I was not surprised that the Ducks would draft one of the top defensemen in the draft who was passed on earlier in first round. By the way, Scott Niedermayer recently announced his retirement and so the Ducks needed to look forward for their new franchise defender.
NHL director of central scouting E.J. McGuire said that Fowler is "your quarterback on your power-play," and compared him to Brian Leetch and Phil Housley.
Fowler joins a fleet of young defenseman who are prospects of the Ducks including Luca Sbisa and Jake Gardiner, which spells a bright future along the Anaheim blue-line. Putting focus on the other two guys for a bit, Sbisa was originally drafted by Philadelphia, but was traded to Anaheim last year, as part of the big Chris Pronger trade. Sbsia has already played 47 games in the NHL and played for Switzerland at the Olympics in February.
Gardiner, who was drafted 17th overall by the Ducks in the 2008 draft, has already played two seasons with the University of Wisconsin.
Fowler equals an invaluable replacement of Niedermayer for the Ducks, and he may be ready for the NHL in a year or two. He has a bright future ahead him, and has had a successful career in the OHL with the Windsor Spitfires. He helped them win the Memorial Cup a month ago, and he was on the U.S. team which won the gold medal at the World Juniors in January.
Why Fowler dropped from being a projected top five pick to falling out of the top 10 is a question, but for now, I am happy to see a young phenom go to the Ducks. I believe if all goes well in the first few years of his NHL career, he maybe invited to the U.S.'s orientation camp for the 2014 winter Olympics, that is, if the NHL allows the NHLers to go to Sochi. Perhaps he'll also be a nomination for the Calder trophy as NHL rookie of the year, in 2012 or 2013, depending when he cracks a full-time spot on the Ducks roster.
From a life-long Ducks fan from small town in Ontario, Canada, and from Duck fans around the world, we welcome you to our team, Cam. We also wish a warm welcome to Emerson Etem, drafted 29th overall, a California native, who has played his junior career with the Medicine Hat Tigers of WHL.
Anaheim missed the playoffs for the first time in the post-lockout era, so Cam and Emerson will surely help us get back to our winning ways from just a few years ago. All the best, guys.