Three players with ties to the Anaheim Jr. Ducks were selected on the second day of the 2023 NHL Entry Draft on June 29.
Wing Ty Henricks, who played for the club during the 2021-22 season, was picked in the sixth round (183rd overall) by the New York Rangers. Wing Sam Harris, a longtime San Diego Jr. Gull who played 14U for the Jr. Ducks in 2017-18, was selected in the fifth round (133rd overall) by the Montreal Canadiens. Center Jaden Lipinski, who played 13U for the club in 2017-18, went in the fourth round (112th overall) to the Calgary Flames.
Their selections give the Jr. Ducks a total of 14 players who have been drafted by NHL teams. Half of those have come since 2018. Three selections are the most the Jr. Ducks ever have had in a single Entry Draft.
"It's exciting to see players who came through our program be recognized by the highest level of the sport," said Alex Kim, the club's director of player personnel as was as its longtime 16U AAA coach. "The journey really begins now, however. The mindset changes. Getting drafted is one thing, but making it to the League is another."
Henricks, whose younger brother Tanner was on the 16U team this past season, helped the 16U's reach the USA Hockey Nationals a year ago in a season in which he piled up 155 points in 80 games. He played for two teams (Fargo and Muskegon) in the United States Hockey League (USHL) this past season, scoring 19 points (nine goals) in 47 games.
A Western Michigan commit, Henricks said he had no idea the Rangers' interest was as strong as it was.
"I talked to them, but they were one of several teams that reached out during the season," the 6-foot-5 Henricks said. "I didn't know they were as interested as they were.
"I'm beyond excited to be drafted. I was sitting with my dad watching, and we both went ballistic when we found I was getting picked. It's just a surreal feeling."
The 2005 birth year said his ability to adjust and adapt to different environments, a necessity given his midseason trade, was his biggest growth area this past season.
"The game speed and the physicality were big steps up, too," he said, adding he felt well prepared due to his time with the Jr. Ducks.
"Coach Alex helped me develop mental toughness. That was the biggest thing," Henricks said. "It helped me push through hard times this season. He told me to shrug things off, not worry about what I can't control. That helped me tremendously this season."
Harris, who will begin playing at the University of Denver this fall, was ecstatic to be picked by the Canadiens because they and the Ducks were his two favorite NHL teams growing up. Anaheim because of its proximity to where he grew up in San Diego and Montreal because his father's family is from there.
"I couldn't have been happier to be picked by them," said Harris, a late 2003 birth year who was in his second year of draft eligibility. "I've rooted for them since I was 8. My dad's entire family is from there, and they were over the moon."
Harris finished tied for eighth in goals (30) and 18th in points (56) in 56 USHL games.
He has fond memories of both the Ducks and Jr. Ducks.
"Teemu Selanne was my idol growing up, and I actually got to stand next to him on the blue line during the National Anthem at a Ducks game when I was a little guy. It was unreal," Harris said. "Everyone with the Jr. Ducks was so friendly. Goalie Lucas Massie (a Union College commit) is still a good friend of mine. My coaches, T.J. Miller and August Aiken, have always been pulling for me. It's really cool that they've kept track of me even after I moved on."
Lipinski, a 6-foot-4 center, excelled for the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League this past season. He had 55 points (19 goals) in 66 games. A late 2004 birth year, he – like Henricks – was in his first year of draft eligibility.