By Thomas Harrington
After struggling with injuries in his first season in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL), Nick Sorensen rebounded with a healthy year this past season. After two years on loan in the SHL, he’s expected to join the San Diego Gulls this coming year.
After scoring only one goal in 14 games in his first season in the SHL, some were starting to wonder if Sorensen was turning into a bust, primarily because of his injury history. The former second round pick had suffered major injuries multiple times in his career, missing significant time in the 2011-2012 and 2014-2015 seasons, while also missing a decent chunk of time in the 2013-2014 season. However, he bounced back in a big way last season. After playing for Skellftea AIK in the 2014-2015 season, he played for Linkoping HC this past season, his final season in the SHL. With his new team, Sorensen played in 37 games and scored 10 goals and 23 points. His 10 goals were sixth on the team and his 23 points were tied for eighth. He also played in six playoff games and had three assists.
Last year, I was concerned with Sorensen’s development after he had another injury plagued season and struggled in the SHL. However, I still thought he could turn into a solid NHL player, provided he had a bounce back season, and he was able to do just that. While he didn’t set the world on fire, scoring over a half point per game in one of the best hockey leagues in the world is a good sign of his progress and the potential that he has for the NHL.
Next season, he’ll join San Diego and compete for a spot in the Gulls’ lineup. Depending on how San Diego’s forward core works out, he could fill a role on the team’s checking line and penalty kill unit, as he is a strong two-way player who plays well at both ends of the ice. Or, he could work his way into a top six role with the Gulls. Either way, he should see a fair amount of ice time in the AHL. Since he played junior hockey in the QMJHL, he shouldn’t have many issues re-adjusting to the size of North American ice rinks.
Going forward, the biggest thing for Sorensen is staying healthy. If he can do that and translate his game to the AHL, he should remain one of the better Anaheim prospects on the right side. However, with Corey Perry and Jakob Silfverberg in Anaheim and Stefan Noesen, Corey Tropp, and Ondrej Kase in San Diego, he’ll have his work cut out for him as he fights for playing time. Given the amount of depth the Ducks have at that position, if he can become one of San Diego’s go to forwards next season, that will be an excellent sign of his development. I’m not too concerned about his offensive output this season; I’d rather see him focus on his overall play at both ends of the ice. Between Perry and Silfverberg, the Ducks could have a lot of goals coming from the right wing. For Sorensen to make an impact in the NHL in the next couple of years, he should follow Silfverberg’s path, where he establishes himself as a good shutdown player and then focuses on the goal scoring. He’s got a good shot, he just needs to find the space to use it in the AHL.
Given the amount of uncertainty over the Ducks’ lineup right now, Sorensen could very well make his NHL debut this season. However, I think that it’s more likely that he spends the upcoming season in San Diego, refining his game, with the goal of making his NHL debut in the 2017-2018 season. If not for the amount of injuries he’s had in his career, Sorensen could be much closer to being an NHL player, but injuries have slowed his development. He’s shown the ability to bounce back from major injuries and help his team every season he’s been healthy. Hopefully, he’ll be able to do that in San Diego this year. Sorensen will be a restricted free agent in a year’s time, and I fully expect the Ducks to sign him to an extension.
My next prospect update will be on Joseph Cramarossa.
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