Shea Theodore is more than aware of how to deal with opponents targeting him.
He still has to figure out how to handle his teammates.
The top draft eligible prospect of the Seattle Thunderbirds, Theodore is bearing the brunt of a lot of pokes, jokes and good-natured ribbings from his teammates.
“Yeah, the guys get on me about it quite a bit but I just try to ignore it as much as I can,” Theodore said.
What’s tough to ignore, though, is Theodore’s emergence as one of the Western Hockey League’s top talents for the 2013 NHL Draft. After an impressive rookie campaign that saw the Aldergrove, BC product record 31 assists and 35 points in 69 games.
Theodore has followed that up with 21 points in 30 games this season, including establishing a new career high in goals with seven. The six-foot-two rearguard credits the success he found in his freshman season, along with a little more maturity and familiarity with the WHL, with that growth.
“A little bit of both I’d say,” he admitted. “I worked hard on my shot all summer and it’s starting to pay off.”
So much so that Theodore is starting to draw comparisons to former Western Hockey League alumni in Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green, who had 14 goals and 39 points in 59 games in his draft year before being drafted 29th overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.
Theodore, 27th in Future Considerations’ November ranking, isn’t about to be disappointed by that comparison.
“From what I heard he’s a great player to be compared to so I take all the positives from him that I can,” he said.
While the two share a lot of offensive flair, Future Considerations WHL scout Cody Nickolet isn’t sure he’d compare Theodore directly to Green.
“He’s a dynamic kid – great skater, booming shot and amazing offensive instincts,” Nickolet said. “It’s hard to compare him to Green because honestly, I have a hard time comparing him to anyone I’ve seen. He’s a very unique looking player but he’s definitely on the rise on my list. I could see him ending up as a first round pick.”
Just like Green.
Do you think draft eligible prospects like yourself downplay or underestimate the pressures of playing in front of scouts on a nightly basis?
Yeah, it’s definitely something that you try not to worry as much about.
Has there been a moment where it has been like, ‘Wow, I’m in my draft year now’?
Yeah. It’s definitely something I have been waiting for since I was a kid.
Branden Troock went through the draft process last year and was drafted by Dallas. Have you asked him, or any other teammates for advice in dealing with the distraction?
Yeah, there’s just the little things that he’s let me know about which is helpful.
You won gold with Canada at the Ivan Hlinka this summer. Is there a better way to kick off your draft season?
No, that was a great achievement, in order to start a winning season with that attitude, is great.
Did you use the Hlinka to compare yourself to any of the other defensemen in the draft class?
Yeah, it’s good to see what some of the other defensemen around the world have to over and to see how I compare to them.