Anaheim Ducks Player Spotlight: RW Ondrej Kase

ANAHEIM, CA - DECEMBER 07: Ondrej Kase (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - DECEMBER 07: Ondrej Kase (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

Anaheim Ducks right wing Ondrej Kase has been a breakthrough player for the  team in his second NHL season, setting a career high in goals (20), assists (18), and points (38).

What can a seventh-round pick do for you? For the Anaheim Ducks, apparently a whole lot. Ondrej Kase, a Czech Republic native, was drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the seventh round of the 2014 NHL draft (205th overall). What he has done since his call-up from San Diego has been a revelation to the team that no one saw coming.

In his first call early last year when the Ducks’ forward corps was thin due to injuries, Kase became a regular fixture on a line with center Antoine Vermette and left winger Nick Ritchie. While he had a slow start last season as he did not get his first goal until seven games in against the Vancouver Canucks, Kase progressed leaps and bounds this season.

Delivering for the Team

Kase showed the world what he really can do – be a goal scorer. Kase was third on the Ducks in goal scoring with his first 20 goal campaign. He excelled on a line with center Adam Henrique and left winger Nick Ritchie. During some stretches of the season, this threesome carried the Ducks offensively.

I distinctly remember in mid-February the Ducks played the Blackhawks at United Center and were down 2-0. The so-called “third line” were the heroes and led by a three-point night by Kase (breakaway backhand goal followed by two assists), the Ducks defeated the Blackhawks 3-2 along with a superb goaltending effort by John Gibson.

Kase has not only excelled this year on the offensive end, but he has vastly improved on the defensive end. He is often used as a forechecker in the oppositions’ defensive zone to force them into turnovers.

While he is not the biggest guy, he uses his speed and intuition to steer and poke pucks away from the opposition. Unsurprisingly, Kase is at his best defensively when he uses his speed to be a pest and break up plays and the oppositions’ possession.

From a 7th round pick, you don’t expect very much. A couple of goals, a couple of assists. You don’t even expect them to last long in the NHL, much less be a regular contributor to the team. Kase has shown he is not like any other seventh rounder. He is an anomaly; good for this Ducks team that has a hard time scoring at times.

The hope is that Kase can keep up his goal-scoring ways in the playoffs. Scoring in key moments such as the game-winning goal against Minnesota that secured the Ducks a playoff berth or the Avalanche overtime winner with a quick backhand to forehand proved critical. The playoff stage will provide him an even greater opportunity to showcase what he can do.

What Kase Means to the Anaheim Ducks

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Honestly, I really don’t know where the Ducks would be without Kase. I don’t even know if they would be in the playoffs. I give credit to the organization for giving him a chance to showcase his abilities. His youth, skill, and scoring ability has been invaluable to a very veteran Anaheim team that has surely needed it in a younger, faster NHL.

In short, Kase has been a key factor in the Anaheim Ducks’ overall success.

Moreover, Kase’s presence on the third line makes it even more dangerous combined with the intelligence and finesse of Henrique and the physicality of Ritchie.

Any team in the league would envy the Ducks’ third line because it contains a youthful trio of speed, skill, and grit. They complement each other so well that it is often hard to match up against.

At only 22 years old, Kase has blossomed into a tremendous player on both offense and defense. He still has a large amount of time to develop into an even better two-way player. His entry-level contract ends this season. He has shown he definitely deserves another and is part of the Ducks’ long-term future; the Ducks must reward as coach Carlyle calls him, their “energizer bunny”.

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This story of this Anaheim Ducks’ seventh rounder is just beginning.