A small-town kid is getting ready for what should be an introduction on a big stage.
Back when he played at the atom level, Shea Theodore showed enough promise that he had an opportunity to join the Burnaby Winter Club.
But instead of jumping to such a big club known for producing elite level players, Theodore opted to remain with the Aldergrove Minor Hockey Association.
The decision allowed him to play with his life-long friends — at a rink just two minutes away from home — until the bantam level.
He then made the jump to the Western Hockey League’s Seattle Thunderbirds and has definitely made a name for himself.
Theodore was a third round pick (64th overall) of the T-Birds in the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft. And this Sunday (June 30) he is projected as a first or second round pick at the NHL Draft.
According to NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings released in April, Theodore is listed 11th among North American skaters. That is up from their midseason rankings, which had him listed 17th.
“Everyone tells me or sends me messages about what is going on with all the rankings and stuff, but there is nothing I can really do,” Theodore said about any pre-draft buzz surrounding him.
“There is nothing I can really do now, just wait for it.”
He is scheduled to fly to New Jersey — the draft is being held at the Devils’ home arena, the Prudential Center — to attend along with his parents, older sister and grandparents.
Whichever team drafts Theodore is getting a puck-moving defenceman with good offensive instincts.
“At the start of the season, I felt like I was a little slow,” he admitted.
“My coach really emphasized to play hard every night and the points would come.”
Theodore, who turns 18 in August, was eighth in the WHL among blue-liners with 19 goals and 50 points in 71 games. He finished third on the Thunderbirds in both assists and points. The season before, he had four goals and 35 points in 69 games and his 31 assists led the team.
Photo: Kyle Scholzen/Seattle Thunderbirds
“I like to skate with the puck (and) I feel I have pretty good vision on the ice too,” Theodore said in describing his game.
“He has always had a gift of being very good one-on-one with the puck,” said Steve Konowalchuk, who has coached Theodore the past two seasons with Seattle.
“And he definitely pushes himself and is a driven kid.”
Theodore has also garnered the attention of national team programs, helping Canada win gold at both the Ivan Hlinka Memorial hockey tournament last August and most recently at the world under-18 championships earlier this spring.
“Every kid dreams about playing for Team Canada and I got to do it twice and we won gold medals both times so that was pretty special,” he said.
The 6-2, 175-pound Theodore will continue working out with the Langley’s Impact Hockey Development program this summer.