Welinski Fits Defensive Mold

Sunday, 06.26.2011 / 5:20 PM PT / News
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Welinski Fits Defensive Mold
By Aaron Paitich
Special to AnaheimDucks.com

Most players, pundits and hockey diehards associate Ducks defense with two main qualities: physicality and mobility.

Andy Welinski, a third-round draft pick by Anaheim on Saturday, has both.

“I’m a good skater,” said Welinski after the Ducks selected him 83rd overall at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. “I like to be physical as well and I think being a bigger body out there is one of my strong suits.

“I think I’m pretty nice off the ice, but on the ice, I think there’s a time and a place to be a little aggressive and mean.”

NHL Central Scouting Services pegged the 6-2, 195-pound defenseman at No. 48 for North American skaters in its final rankings.

The Duluth, Minnesota native had the special honor of being selected not only in his home state, but at an arena he’s familiar with. The state high school hockey tournament is annually held at Xcel Energy Center, where he played with his former team Duluth East in 2009 and 2010.

“It’s happening so fast, it’s hard to kind of grasp right now but it feels great,” said Welinski, who had plenty of family and relatives on hand.

Friend and former Duluth teammate, Derek Forbort, was selected in last year’s first round (15th overall) by the rival Los Angeles Kings. Both could wind up moving from the chilly Midwest to sunny, Southern California.

“Derek’s a pretty good friend of mine,” Welinski said. “It would be cool to see him down the road here.”

Both Forbort and Welinski are defensemen that decided to leave Duluth East High School – a powerhouse hockey school in Minnesota – one year early to play juniors and accelerate development.

Welinski, 18, suited up for the United States Hockey League’s (USHL) Green Bay Gamblers, where he scored eight goals and eight assists in 62 games while registering a plus-15 rating.

It was a tough choice. Even though his high school team – and good friends – made it all the way to the state championship game in 2011, Welinski stands by his choice.

“It was tough. In Green Bay, I watched all the games,” Welinski said. “I had a lot of buddies on the team and stuff like that. I was very happy for them – it was good to see them get as far as they did. Looking back at it now, I’m happy with the decision. Obviously, I missed out on the state tournament but it was a decision I had to make, and looking back at it, I’m happy with it.”

Welinski will head back to Green Bay for one more season before returning to his hometown, this time to play for the NCAA’s defending national champion University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs.

With plenty of interest from Canadian juniors and other hockey leagues, this is the route he wanted to take. 

“I think growing up in the U.S., everybody wants to play college hockey, where a lot of guys want to just go straight to the NHL,” said Welinski, who tries to model his game after Kings defenseman and U.S. Olympian Jack Johnson. “I think my dream was to play college hockey and I’m on my way towards that.”

Welinski may be a few years away from the NHL, but he believes he’s got the tools and demeanor to eventually crack Anaheim’s lineup and help continue their winning culture.

“They have a very good D-core there right now,” he said. “They pride themselves on being a very good defensive team.”




1 x - ANA 78 49 22 7 227 216 105
2 x - NSH 77 47 22 8 220 188 102
3 STL 75 46 22 7 228 186 99
4 CHI 75 45 24 6 213 175 96
5 MIN 76 44 25 7 219 186 95
6 VAN 75 43 27 5 215 203 91
7 WPG 76 39 25 12 215 201 90
8 CGY 76 41 28 7 224 201 89
9 LAK 75 37 24 14 200 188 88
10 DAL 76 37 29 10 236 243 84
11 SJS 76 37 30 9 212 215 83
12 COL 75 35 28 12 205 209 82
13 EDM 75 22 40 13 181 254 57
14 ARI 76 23 45 8 160 252 54


R. Getzlaf 75 24 44 13 68
C. Perry 63 32 20 15 52
R. Kesler 78 20 27 -2 47
S. Vatanen 63 12 25 6 37
J. Silfverberg 77 12 23 12 35
P. Maroon 69 9 25 -4 34
J. Wisniewski 66 8 26 -14 34
C. Fowler 76 7 27 5 34
H. Lindholm 74 7 26 23 33
M. Beleskey 63 22 10 15 32
F. Andersen 33 11 5 .914 2.40
J. Gibson 13 7 0 .916 2.58

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