After being taken in the first round of the draft a year ago, Logan MacMillan is still fighting his way into the Ducks' long-term plans
As he watched each fresh-faced selection burst from their seat with joy and stride atop the Scotiabank Place stage to shake Commissioner Gary Bettman’s hand at the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Logan MacMillan’s mind flooded with memories of his time in their dress shoes one year ago.
As a center prospect from Halifax of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League at the 2007 draft, MacMillan waited patiently in the bowels of Columbus’ Nationwide Arena for the big moment when his name would be called.
The time waiting would end up being shorter than MacMillan anticipated, as the Ducks made him the 19th overall selection.
“I was taken earlier than I expected to go, so I didn’t really have time to get nervous about not being taken,” MacMillan said. “I was sitting there with my family and I heard ‘From Halifax of the Quebec League…’, then I clued in that it was me. It was awesome.”
The son of former NHL player Bob MacMillan, Logan was targeted by the Ducks early on as a player who fit their system.
“Our guys liked him all year long because he was a good two-way player,” said Ducks Senior VP of Hockey Operations Bob Murray, who once played with MacMillan’s father in Chicago. “He was our type of guy, a character kid that played both ends of the ice and could give you some offense. He fits right into what we try to do here.”
Quickly following the draft, the 6-foot-1, 182-pound center came to Anaheim for an annual conditioning camp that gave him his first taste of being part of the Ducks organization. (He’s there for a second go-round this week.) Seeking to help the organization’s top prospects learn the ropes of professional hockey, the camp focuses on both on- and off-ice development.
“They’ve got to learn what it takes to be successful,” Murray said. “If you watch how hard Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger and Jean-Sebastien Giguere work, these guys have to get to that level. The sooner we can get them on that train to learning that, the better.”
The 2008 conditioning camp will run through Thursday at Anaheim Ice. A new wrinkle this year for all participants is its direction by the Ducks coaching staff (head coach Randy Carlyle and assistants Newell Brown and Dave Farrish) for the first time.
“It’s pretty tough,” said MacMillan. “I’m trying to work hard and be intense. I think that’s what they’re looking for.”
In the year’s time since he last participated in the Ducks’ conditioning camp, MacMillian has had his share of ups and downs. Last summer the Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island native suffered a major concussion that kept him out of Ducks training camp and limited him to 46 games back in Halifax.
When he battled his way back onto the ice, MacMillan put up solid numbers (15 goals, 26 assists, 41 points) and helped lead the Mooseheads to the semifinals of the QMJHL playoffs before being swept by eventual champion Gatineau.
“He responded very well to some bad things happening to him,” Murray said. “He’s young. If he can fight through them now, he’ll be fine down the road. I think he has the character to be a good player.”
Still five days short of his 19th birthday, there still is an abundance of opportunity that lies ahead for MacMillan. Hopefully putting the injury woes of his first year in the Ducks organization behind him, his second effort is just starting at conditioning camp.
“Here I am again, starting all over pretty much,” MacMillan said. “When I think about the future, obviously I want to be playing here some day. I try to just take it one year at a time. You keep hoping, work hard and continue playing.”