The National Hockey League 2013 Draft was this past Sunday at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. The Anaheim Ducks made five draft selections, and here is a recap of who those picks were and what they can bring to the table for Orange County hockey.
First round, 26th overall
Shea Theodore, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL), Defenseman
The 17-year-old, Aldergrove, British Columbia native is a talented young D-man was a star in the Western Hockey League, for the Seattle Thunderbirds. Theodore scored 50 points, 19 coming from goals, in 71 games, along with 32 penalty minutes this past season. Over his 144 total career games in the WHL, Theodore put up 85 points (23 goals, 62 assists).
Theodore needs to hit the weight room to add on some size to his 6-foot-2, 178 pound stature, but his play is almost more set towards the offensive part of the game. Shea is great when it comes to moving the puck around as he can run a power play with his quick and accurate passing. B.J. MacDonald of NHL Central Scouting described Theodore’s play as “smooth as silk,” which may have been the reason Ducks Executive Vice President/General Manager Bob Murray said almost the same with, “Shea is a great skater and can really move the puck. The way the game is played now, that is really important. You need players like that. We are really excited.”
The kid has a good head on him, as he knows his place in the organization already, noting that he’s excited to meet and learn from Cam Fowler, someone he believes grew into the Ducks system the same way he will. He also has great confidence that should not be viewed as arrogance when he told media when asked about his defense, “I feel like as I get bigger and stronger and develop more, I think that’s an area that will be improved on. I’ve been improving the past two years and I think with the right coaching it can get better.”
Theodore won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2012 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, along with a gold medal with Team British Columbia at the 2011 Canada Winter Games.
NHL Player Comparison: Mike Green, Washington Capitals
Second round, 45 overall
Nick Sorenson, Quebec (QMJHL), Right Wing
Quick hands and speed are the reasons Sorenson is such a talent. He can work his way around defenders on the break, but doesn’t have the strength to match the size and power of NHL defensemen. His wrist shot is strong and accurate, which will be a great threat against opposing goalies and defenders along with his stickwork. He should become stronger as his body develops from the current 6-foot, 168 pound frame he currently has.
The biggest, BIGGEST, issue with Sorenson is his health. After a knee injury, along with a few minor injuries, health let his draft stock drop drastically.
A few scouts have called him a “cherry picker” due to what a dear friend of mine has called his “office” right to left of the net where he scores most of his goals. Although most of them were from that spot, there were a lot of them as he scored 20 goals to add to his 27 assists for a total of 47 points over his 46 games in this past season with the Quebec Ramparts. Along with being a “cherry picker” Sorenson could use some work with his movement in the offensive zone. He plays well in front of the net, but almost too much as it’s a go to spot. Sorenson can battle along the boards as the juniors level, but will need to improve his movement if he wants to be a success in the NHL.
The 18-year-old Danish star is very, very happy to be in Anaheim though. “I felt very good after meeting with Anaheim. It was the team I really wanted to go to. I couldn’t be happier.” The Dane went on to talk about the stars he hopes to join in Anaheim. “The Ducks have so many good players. [Corey] Perry and [Ryan] Getzlaf obviously. I’m really happy also because [Hampus] Lindholm and [Rickard] Rakell are good friends of mine. I was really hoping it was Anaheim, a great situation for me.”
As excited as Sorenson is to play in Anaheim, fans are just as excited, as a Ducks fan reached out to me on Twitter about how “stoked” they were to have Sorenson available for the future.
NHL Player Comparison: Damien Brunner, Detroit Red Wings
Third round, 87th overall
Keaton Thompson, United States Under-18 Development Program (NTDP), Defenseman
He’s young, which sometimes shows a little too much. The kid has great hockey IQ, but needs some work, and needs some confidence. Thompson makes great passes and has the potential to be a great playmaker in the NHL someday. You can expect his confidence and overall play to improve as he’ll work with Dave Hakstol, head coach of North Dakota University hockey team, which is where Thompson will end up for the next few years.
Even with his minor flaws, the kid is a talented hockey player. Scouts let his stock drop quite a bit after some poor performances with the USA U-18 team, but he is a future NHL blueliner in my eyes. His size is perfect, and he uses it to his advantage, which will be great as he progressively learns and improves his play. He can, and will fight, if need be, and is smart in picking his opponents, and when to pick them.
Thompson is also a decent goal scorer for a young defenseman, as he scored nine goals over his 117 career games in the program, along with 32 assists.
NHL Comparison: Nick Leddy, Chicago Blackhawks
5th round, 147th overall
William (Grant) Besse, Benilde-St. Margaret’s Catholic Prep, Forward
Possibly the most underrated pick of the NHL Draft, Besse is a goal scorer, and he’s damn good at it. In my eyes, Besse only went as low as he did due to his commitment to the University of Wisconsin, where he will only become a better goal scorer. His shot is NHL ready, and in a few shorts years, his entire play will be as well. “He’s got an NHL-caliber shot. It’s not only the speed and quickness, it’s how he hides the release point. It’s very tough for goalies to react. You can’t teach that,” says Florida Panthers scout Fred Bandel.
Besse lead Benilde-St Margaret’s Catholic Prep to the 2012 Minnesota State hockey championship, where he set a state tournament record with five goals for the Red Knights’ (three short-handed), in a 5-1 victory in the state championship. The state of Minnesota loves this kid, enough so, to make him Minnesota Mr. Hockey, an award given to the top senior player in Minnesota prep hockey. Besse scored 69 points this past season (44 goals, 25 assists).
Besse is not a very physical player with his 5-foot-9, 170 frame, but can’t still fight off defenders with his strength, and incredible shot. With some great growth and coaching at the University of Wisconsin, along with playing alongside last year’s big Ducks draft pick, Nic Kerdiles, Besse is set for an outstanding future in the NHL.
NHL Comparison: Devin Setoguchi, Minnesota Wild
Sixth round, 117th overall
Miro Aaltonen, Espoo Blues (FEL), Forward
If you search Aaltonen on YouTube, the second video is a highlight reel with the song “Skyfall” by Adele, the theme to the James Bond movie “Skyfall.” After watching the kid play, I can only say his play is as graceful and magnificent as the song itself. He has great stick work skills and a nifty wrister with a quick release. His skating skills are outstanding, and he has great closing speed.
Between his size (5-10, 168 lbs) and an ankle injury suffered at the IIHF World Junior Championship, Aaltonen may have made his draft stock drop quite a bit. But he is a gem of a pick in the sixth round for the Ducks.
For 19-year-old, Miro, the stats may not be standouts from last season, but he scored 11 goals, along with 5 assists to give him 16 points in 32 games, along with 22 penalty minutes.
NHL Comparison: Antti Miettinen, Winnipeg Jets
The Ducks had an outstanding draft class in 2013, and got some very good steals in the late rounds. You might not be able to expect all these picks to be in Anaheim right away, but the future is very bright for the Orange County crowd at the Honda Center. Bob Murray addressed a few other things about the Ducks immediate future.
Ducks interest in free agent Vincent Lecavlier:
“I inquired about what exactly they were looking for as far as term and the money situation, and when I got to the bottom of that, we couldn’t get in that ballgame. So, we pulled ourselves out of the discussion.“
Negotiations with Saku Koivu:
“We’re still talking. There are some elements in his contract we’re debating over. I expect to get that done within the next week or so. We’ve talked enough so that I’m not worried about it.”
Will Teemu Selanne return for one more season?:
Nothing to report. I wish I had something to say, but I don’t.
For more updates on the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings, follow me on Twitter (@taylorblakeward), and don’t forget to hit that “follow” button for ValleyBayNews as well (@ValleyBayNews).