Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 6/23/12
Irvine native Nicolas Kerdiles couldn't be happier with the fortune of being drafted in the second round, 36th overall, by the Anaheim Ducks -- an organization he described as being his "hometown team" that he lived "right down the street" from. "We had a good, long meeting at the combine, and we stayed in contact throughout the days leading up to the draft," Kerdiles said of the Ducks. "I'm very happy right now, and I couldn't have gone to a better team." An Irvine native he may be, but his own personal journey is much different than that of any other Southern California prospects. While he did pick up roller hockey as a six-year-old, eventually transitioning over to ice hockey at age eight, he was born in Texas, spent the first six years of his life growing up in France -- where his family had a beach house -- and after playing for the LA Selects under-16 team in 2009-10 transitioned to the US National Development Team program in Ann Arbor, Mich., where he spent two seasons. He is committed to the University of Wisconsin, where he has already enrolled in summer classes. Though Wisconsin may raise an eyebrow from some Ducks fans well aware of the contract stalemate between the team and elite defensive prospect Justin Schultz, don't expect any such complications with Kerdiles, who referred to Anaheim as "a great organization". Instead, the talented Ducks prospect and fellow southern Californian that immediately comes to mind is Emerson Etem, very familiar to the 6-foot-2, 201 pound Kerdiles. "He's always been a good role model for me," Kerdiles said of Etem. "I've seen him in the summer before I came out here, and he told me 'good luck.' He's a great guy, and I look forward to going to camp with him and hopefully seeing him soon. It's pretty special for two California guys to be drafted by a hometown team." Similar to Etem, Kerdiles is capable of playing in all areas of the ice. "I think I'm a two way power forward with above average speed and skill," Kerdiles said. "I like to play in the gritty areas on the ice, and most of my goals are scored in front of the net, but that's just how I score my goals. I just think a two-way power forward with some good speed and skill is the best description." One of the most productive forwards with the USNTDP, Kerdiles had 22 goals and 48 points in 54 games last season before winning a gold medal with USA Hockey's entry at the World Under-18 Championships, tallying nine points in six games. The winning instincts he displayed and intangible attributes that are not easily taught were part of the reason Anaheim was encouraged to select him early in the second round. Ranked 29th amongst North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting's final rankings, Kerdiles wasn't likely to fall any farther than where the Ducks were able to select him. "I think it's a combination of work ethic, skating ability and shooting ability," Anaheim Director of Amateur Scouting Martin Madden said of Kerdiles. "Nic is far from being mature physically, yet he never shies away from the dirty areas. He goes to the front of the net, he digs for pucks deep in the offensive zone. He's a complete package." Kerdiles took in the 2007 Stanley Cup Final at the Honda Center, cheering on Anaheim against the Ottawa Senators, and also was able to make it in to Staples Center for Games 3 and 6 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Final. It's no surprise that he already has a firm grasp of the Freeway Faceoff rivalry. "It was a lot of fun, and a great atmosphere," Kerdiles said about the Ducks' 2007 Cup run. "And now with the Kings winning, too, I think there's more of a rivalry between the Ducks and the Kings. Now the Ducks have a chance to win next year, and hopefully they can beat the Kings in that way." There's still plenty of development to undergo before he'll have a pristine shot at wearing an Anaheim jersey, something he articulated to reporters. "I think I just need to get bigger and stronger," Kerdiles said. "That's the number one thing. I have a good frame, and now I have to fill out a little bit more and work on my hands, work on my skill work, and I think with Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves, I'll get all that, and hopefully make it to the NHL soon." Having taken into account the need to grow and develop, Madden also referred to the local ties as part of Kerdiles' overall appealing package. "I think he's ecstatic to be with us, and that factored in to our choice. We're really happy to have a local kid being a Ducks prospect," he said. DUCKS DRAFT PICKS 1st round 6th overall -- Hampus Lindholm, D, SWE, Rogle BK (SEL) 2 36 -- Nicolas Kerdiles, LW, USA, USA U-18 (USHL) 3 87 -- Frederik Andersen, G, DNK, Frolunda 4 97 -- Kevin Roy, C, CAN, Lincoln (USHL) 4 108 -- Andrew O'Brien, D, CAN, Chicoutimi (QMJHL) 5 127 -- Brian Cooper, D, USA, Fargo (USHL) 7 187 -- Kenton Helgesen, D, CAN, Calgary (WHL) 7 210 -- Jaycob Megna, D, USA, Nebraska-Omaha (WCHA)
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