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Reviewing Anaheim’s 2013 Draft Class
By Thomas Harrington
The 2013 NHL Entry Draft was led by Nathan MacKinnon, and three of the top four picks have become legitimate NHL stars. After three relatively strong drafts in a row, Anaheim didn’t have a great 2013 draft. They had five picks but only one of them turned into an NHL player. The Ducks picked Shea Theodore 26th overall, Nick Sorensen 45th overall, Keaton Thompson 87th overall, Grant Besse 147th overall, and Miro Aaltonen 177th overall.
After being drafted, Theodore played two seasons in the WHL before becoming a full-time pro in the 2015-2016 season, as he split time between Anaheim and San Diego that year. The next year, he split time between the NHL and AHL again, but eight points in 14 playoff games made everyone expect him to be a full-time NHL player the very next season.
And that’s just what happened, except that it was for Vegas as the Ducks traded Theodore to the Golden Knights at the expansion draft so the Golden Knights would take Clayton Stoner. He’s become a top defenseman in Vegas and had 46 points in 71 games before the season was put on hold.
In a surprising twist, every single player taken in the first round of the 2013 Draft has played in at least one NHL game. Not even the 2003 Draft, one that many considered to be one of the best of all time, can make that claim. For the few players taken after Theodore in the first round, only Ryan Hartman has had a decent career, but Theodore is the better player and was the better selection.
Expand the comparables to the first 10 picks of the second round, and none of them are close to the caliber of player that Theodore is. The best player in those first 10 picks of the second round is probably J.T. Compher, and he has 91 points in 223 games playing wing. Theodore has 129 points in 264 games playing defense. There’s little question that the Ducks made the right call when they took Theodore in the first round of the 2013 Draft.
After being drafted, Sorensen played in the QMJHL for a season, then went to Sweden to play for two years. He returned to North America in the 2016-2017 season, playing 48 games with San Diego and 5 with Anaheim. He wanted more time in the NHL, but he couldn’t crack the Ducks’ lineup over the myriad of other young wingers. He decided to go back to Sweden the following season and has been playing in the SHL ever since.
Many view the SHL as the third-best hockey league in the world, only behind the NHL and the KHL. While Sorensen hasn’t become an elite scorer in that league, he’s put up decent numbers and I do think that he could work on a third or fourth line in the NHL. However, he certainly wouldn’t be guaranteed a spot on any team.
So, was Sorensen’s talent level enough to warrant a second-round selection? Arguably, yes. However, given how things worked out with him, Sorensen was the wrong pick by the Ducks.
The second round in 2013 wasn’t particularly deep, but a number of NHL players have come out of it. Tyler Bertuzzi is probably the best of the bunch. He was picked 58th overall by Detroit and he would have been a much better selection by the Ducks. The Ducks also could have taken Artturi Lehkonen instead, the only other player in this round to score over 100 points. He was taken 55th overall by Montreal.
After being drafted, Thompson spent three years in the NCAA before turning pro. He spent three years playing for San Diego, with a brief four-game stint in the ECHL in the 2016-2017 season, before leaving as a free agent. Thompson has a decent skillset, and I do think he could one day become a team’s seventh defenseman.
However, he had one severe disadvantage while in with the Ducks. He was in the organization at a time when Anaheim was flush with good, young defensive talent who were better than Thompson. As a result, he was passed over by others in the organization, leading him to seek playing time elsewhere. He spent this past season playing for Iowa in the AHL and has yet to appear in an NHL game.
Thompson was chosen towards the end of the third round, but all four players chosen after him to finish the round off have appeared in at least one NHL game. The best of them would be Oliver Bjorkstrand, who has 133 points in 246 games. Anton Slepyshev, the player taken immediately after Thompson, hasn’t had a great NHL career but does have over 100 NHL games to his credit. This is one pick that Anaheim definitely missed on.
After being drafted, Besse spent four years in the NCAA before turning pro. He played two professional seasons in North America, and most of that time was spent in the ECHL, as he only played a grand total of 18 games in the AHL those two seasons. He spent this past season playing in the DEL.
Only seven skaters from the fifth round of the 2013 Draft have made it to the NHL. Unfortunately, one of them was chosen immediately after Besse. With the 148th overall pick, Los Angeles chose Jonny Brodzinski. His 12 points and 57 games both rank fourth among players taken this round. Not exactly stellar numbers, but he was a better pick than a player who spent two years in the ECHL.
After being drafted, Aaltonen played in the Liiga for three seasons and then went to the KHL for the 2016-2017 season. He never signed a deal with the Ducks, but he eventually did with Toronto and joined their AHL team for the 2017-2018 season. After that, he returned to the KHL where he has been playing ever since.
In his one AHL season, Aaltonen scored 43 points in 64 games. In the KHL, he’s recorded over 40 points in two of his three seasons. He’s clearly got some offensive talent, so picking him late in the sixth round wasn’t a bad idea by the Ducks. Of the four players taken after him to end the round, Anton Blidh has played in 28 games and recorded two points. So he made it to the NHL, but that’s not exactly a big miss by Anaheim.
Since Anaheim didn’t have a seventh-round pick, it’s fair to compare the players chosen in the final round against Aaltonen. Only six players from the final round of 2013 have made it to the NHL, and only two of them have played in over 100 games: Andreas Johnsson and MacKenzie Weegar. Neither has had a great career, but both ultimately would have been a better choice than Aaltonen.
The 2013 Draft will go down as a big miss for Anaheim. Four of their five picks didn’t make it in the NHL, and their one lone selection has turned into a star on a division rival’s team. I do think Sorensen, Thompson, and Aaltonen had a chance of working out at least somewhat if things had gone a little differently. However, they didn’t, and Anaheim was left with nothing.
Overall, I’d give the Ducks a C- for this draft. Theodore is their one saving grace from this draft and the only reason why Anaheim gets the lowest possible passing grade. For a late first-round pick, Theodore was an excellent choice. He’s easily a top 15, if not top 10, player from this draft.
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May 1st, 2020