In the wake of Anaheim selecting five players in the NHL Draft at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, Ducks Director of Amateur Scouting Martin Madden assessed the team’s selections and how he felt about their draft overall.
It was an interesting draft in terms of how we viewed the player breakdown in terms of tiers of players and where we stood. It was really strong at the top 10 and then it peaked in terms of the first two rounds, but at a level considerably under the top 10. We viewed the next tier of guys extending well into the low 30s. We looked into different scenarios for moving up, to try and get somebody that we had in our top 10, or moving down to get multiple picks in the second round and get a few more cracks at guys that we liked. There were so many teams that had multiple picks, so there were options for those types of trades. Before the draft, we figured there were two teams that had picks that might work for us. But we soon found out it wasn’t going to happen. Believe me, Bob was very active, but it takes two to tango.
It’s always the best player available. We probably have a little less depth in the system on defense. Having said that, if we had been more passionate about a forward, we would have taken a forward. At that point in the draft, there is just no other way to approach it. Unless you’re terribly one-side in terms of depth, but that’s not a concern for us.
I like that we added five players that the staff was passionate about. We got players we expected to be available around the areas where we took them. We think they fit the Ducks mold, they’re dedicated athletes, they’re serious kids and they’re passionate about the game. At this stage, that’s why we’re excited.
Madden’s take on each of the players the Ducks drafted:
Shea Theodore (first round, 26th pick), D, Seattle (WHL)
We love his offensive hockey sense, we love the way he is so poised under pressure with the puck and we love the way he is able to generate offense from the blue line. We were very pleased with that selection. You look at his performance playing for Team Canada in the summer and at the end of the year. He played first power play and first penalty kill for them in both tournaments. In Seattle, they were very challenged and didn’t have a very good year with their goaltender. That affected the plus/minus for him and the whole team. He was on an island, so to speak, and I don’t think it will be an issue going forward.
Nick Sorensen (second round, 45th), RW, Quebec (QMJHL)
Nick is a very hard-working, skilled player. He’s had to deal with injuries the past two years, but through those injuries he showed he’s serious and dedicated and can come back from setbacks. We’re really, really impressed with his character. He fits the Ducks’ style of play. We thought that with the games he had missed with injury that he would be available at the 45th pick, so we did our homework on him. He grew up in the same area of Sweden as Hampus Lindholm, and he’s good friends with both Hampus and Rickard Rakell.
Keaton Thompson (third round, 87th), D, USA U-18
There was a dropoff after the second round as far as our evaluation of players, but there are a number of guys on staff who had real passion for Keaton. He’s a very slick, mobile, puck-moving defenseman. He’s also one of the youngest players in this draft. Age-wise he made the draft by one day. So he’s still physically immature, even at 6-1, 187. You can see there is room for added muscle mass. He had a very good start this season and played well into mid-February. He had a bit of a setback with his confidence down the stretch in April, but we think it’s a little blip in his season and he’s going to a very good program at North Dakota.
Grant Besse (fifth round, 147th), RW, Benilde-St. Margaret's, Minn.
Again, with Grant it comes back to the level of passion I sensed from our scouts, and three guys had real passion for Grant. He went through the draft last year after a very good high school hockey season, and this year he had an unbelievably productive season, and it showed that he’s dedicated and motivated to get better. One thing he can do is score goals, and that’s what we drafted him for. If he makes it, it will be a home run type pick.
Miro Aaltonen (sixth round, 177th), C, Espoo Blues (Finland)
Miro is a very good playmaking centerman, though a little undersized. He was good in his under-18 year and he has gained some muscle mass. He played pro in Finland last year, but didn’t play as much, and this year the top picks for Espoo got some power play time. He played two outstanding games leading up to the world juniors and was one of the best players on the ice for those two games. He started that tournament on fire and had two goals and an assist in the first game, but towards the end of that game he ended up breaking his ankle. He didn’t play again until he came back for the finals of his junior team’s playoffs. He played well and showed he’s recovered from the injury. I spoke to the assistant GM there, and they’re really excited about the future for him. He’ll play a top six role again in Espoo and be part of the power play and penalty kill.
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