The six Seattle Thunderbirds taken in the 2023 NHL Draft. COURTESY IMAGE, Seattle Thunderbirds

The six Seattle Thunderbirds taken in the 2023 NHL Draft. COURTESY IMAGE, Seattle Thunderbirds

Six Kent-based Thunderbird players taken in 2023 NHL Draft

Forward Nico Myatovic highest T-Bird pick at 33rd overall; taken by Anaheim Ducks

Six players from the Kent-based Seattle Thunderbirds were chosen in the 2023 NHL Draft, the most of any team in the Western Hockey League (WHL).

The Anaheim Ducks took 18-year-old forward Nico Myatovic with the first pick of the second round, the 33rd overall pick. The draft was hosted June 28-29 at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. No T-Birds were taken in the first round.

Forward Gracyn Sawchyn, 18, went to the Florida Panthers in the second round with the 63rd overall pick. The Vancouver Canucks took defenseman Sawyer Mynio, 18, in the third round with the 89th pick.

Seattle goalies Scott Ratzlaff, 18, and Thomas Milic, 20, each were drafted in the fifth round. The Buffalo Sabres took Ratzlaff at 141st and the Winnipeg Jets chose Milic with the 151st pick.

Defenseman Jeremy Hanzel, 20, went in the sixth round to the Colorado Avalanche with the 187th selection.

All six players were part of the T-Birds WHL Championship team that advanced to the Memorial Cup, where they lost in the title game to the Quebec Remparts.

The T-Birds, who play their home games at the accesso ShoWare Center in Kent, already had 10 players on the 2022-2023 team that had been drafted. This draft boosted that number to 16.

Anaheim assistant general manager Martin Madden gave his thoughts to about Myatovic, who had 30 goals and 30 assists in the regular season in 68 games. He had four goals and three assists in 19 playoff games.

“We’ve loved Nico from last year,” Madden said. “Really, really good hockey sense and applies it in different ways. He’s a support player for good players. He did it on a elite Seattle team this year. He does all the little things right and he has the skill to be able to produce in front of the net. So he makes plays, but mostly he’s an elite support player, somebody who can get pucks for first and second line players.

“He’s somebody who’s the first on the backcheck and somebody who’s always in the goalie’s face. He’s a culture guy, an unbelievable kid who is mature beyond his years with lots of room to grow and get stronger and faster.”

Myatovic looks forward to joining Anaheim.

“I’m super excited,” Myatovic said in a press conference after his selection. “I’ve never been to California in my life so I’m excited to get down there and see what’s it like. And I can’t wait to join this young, exciting core that they have going on here.”

But prior to joining the Ducks in the NHL, Myatovic knows he will take on an even bigger role next season with the T-Birds, who will lose a number of their top players who will be older than the age limit of 20.

“I’ll be relied up heavily in all situations of the game,” Myatovic said. “I’m ready for that and my style of game will suit that very well and I can’t wait to take on that role.”

T-Birds 2023 NHL Draft picks

Round Two

• 33rd pick: Nico Myatovic (F) – Anaheim Ducks

• 63rd pick: Gracyn Sawchyn (F) – Florida Panthers

Round Threee

• 89th pick: Sawyer Mynio (D) – Vancouver Canucks

Round Five

• 141st pick: Scott Ratzlaff (G) – Buffalo Sabres

• 151st pick: Thomas Milic (G) – Winnipeg Jets

Round Six

• 187th pick: Jeremy Hanzel (D) – Colorado Avalanche

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The Anaheim Ducks took forward Nico Myatovic, of the Seattle Thunderbirds, with the first pick of the second round of the NHL Draft. COURTESY PHOTO, Brian Liesse, Seattle Thunderbirds

The Anaheim Ducks took forward Nico Myatovic, of the Seattle Thunderbirds, with the first pick of the second round of the NHL Draft. COURTESY PHOTO, Brian Liesse, Seattle Thunderbirds

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