Ducks GM Talks Plans For No. 2 Pick Leo Carlsson In 2023-24

After selecting him as the No. 2 pick in the NHL Draft after Connor Bedard, the Anaheim Ducks obviously have big plans for Leo Carlsson. But according to general manager Pat Verbeek, that just might not be in the NHL this coming season. 

Verbeek said recently that they'll be watching him closely at training camp in September to see if the 6'3", 198-pound center has the strength and speed for the rigours of the National Hockey League. 

"Patience is going to be required from everybody -- from myself, from the coaching staff and even from our fans," said Verbeek. "They're good prospects. They just need time to grow, time to mature. They're so young. It's not an easy league.

"As I told some of these guys, 'Listen, skill-wise and probably thinking-wise, you can play in the NHL. But strength-wise and speed-wise, you can't, so those are the things that you've got to really get after in the summertime to make sure you're ready for the NHL.'"

Last year, with Orebro of the Swedish Hockey League, the 18-year-old Carlsson posted 25 points (10 goals, 15 assists) in 44 games. He also played above his age range at the 2023 IIHF World Championship in the spring, where he recorded five points (three goals, two assists) in eight games for Sweden.

"We're going to find the right league," Verbeek said. "If the NHL's not it, we'll try San Diego (AHL). If that's not it, then he'll go back to Orebro. We're just going to wait and see."

Carlsson himself, however, isn't interested so much in the AHL for any length of time: "I have not spoken to Verbeek about it. I don't want to do a whole season in the AHL, but playing a few games is perhaps not so far away," the No. 2 pick told a Swedish reporter

Training camp will go a long way to telling the story of the start of Carlsson's 2023-24 season.

Photo: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports