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    Ducks’ development camp provides look at a promising future
    • July 6, 2024

    IRVINE — The Ducks wrapped up their development camp on Friday with a high-scoring three-on-three scrimmage that offered perhaps the most illuminating glimpses of the franchise’s future this week.

    It also had some links to the organization’s history as Scott Niedermayer’s team, led by Cutter Gauthier and Yegor Sidorov, edged Ryan Getzlaf’s squad, which featured both of the Ducks’ first-round picks in last weekend’s draft, Beckett Sennecke and Stian Solberg.

    The 6-foot-3 Sennecke grew five inches and further expanded his offensive game, catapulting him from fringe first-rounder to the third overall selection. His wide-eyed, slack-jawed reaction first became a meme and then a t-shirt, with “What the Duck?” shirt preorders opening this week.

    “It’s been a whirlwind, for sure, but it finally settled down here the last couple days. It was a pretty demanding trip, but it was fun,” Sennecke said.

    “The expectation is the big thing. I’m a third overall pick now, so that comes with a lot of high expectations, not just from everyone else but from myself as well,” he added.

    Matt McIlvane, the coach of the Ducks’ top minor-league affiliate, was on the ice with the Ducks’ prospects, as were Niedermayer and Getzlaf.

    “How do you not look at Ryan and listen to what he has to say?” McIlvane asked. “He’s a legend of the game and the organization. With that experience comes great knowledge, and also instant credibility for the players.”

    Sennecke joked that Getzlaf gave him “a shootout move to do, and it didn’t work out,” though he did score with a gorgeous hesitation move on a breakaway.

    He said he felt the Ducks were attracted to him because of his multifaceted game, particularly on offense.

    The Toronto native sprouted nearly half a foot in roughly a year, which lengthened his stride but also required some adjustment in terms of balance and coordination, among other benefits and detriments.

    “I was smaller, so I had to play that small game, really shifty, quick on my feet and avoiding checks. Then, when I grew, I kept that small person’s game and had a bigger body,” Sennecke said. “My bones grew faster than my muscles could keep up with, so I’m a little leaner.”

    Sennecke said he was able to connect with Gauthier, with the duo now considered the top two prospects in one of the NHL’s elite young talent pools.

    “He’s a great person off the ice and a really skilled player. He’s strong and powerful. It’s good to learn from those guys who have been through it before,” Sennecke said.

    Gauthier, who was a lottery pick by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2022, had been through the experience with his prior club. He was traded to the Ducks in January, playing only Game 82 for the club after going all the way to the NCAA title game with Boston College.

    “On our very first day, we had a meeting with our mental performance coach,” McIlvane said. “When she asked what were a couple of things we could focus on for the week, what Cutter said right away was, ‘I want to be a leader for the guys that are experiencing camp for the first time.’”

    Another player experiencing development camp and an NHL setting for the first time was defenseman Stian Solberg, whom the Ducks traded up to select 23rd overall.

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    Solberg started out playing soccer but moved from the pitch to the ice. Similarly, he transformed from a skill-oriented player – he scored a goal in Friday’s scrimmage and had multiple eye-catching outlet passes – into a waking nightmare for opponents.

    He showed off his ability to use his physique and formidable mean streak earlier in the week. While Sennecke was quick to offer that defense and physical strength were his main developmental emphases, Solberg displayed both in spades during a drill where players had to defend without a stick. His positioning was flawless as he won the battle sans stick then tossed his opponent to the ice.

    “I just really like to play hard. I really enjoy the physical part of the game. Really, it comes naturally, I don’t see why not to play hard,” Solberg said. “One day I just started and I’ve been developing the game from that time.”

    ​ Orange County Register 

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