Welcome to Last Word on Hockey’s One-Hit Wonder series. Each day, we will take a look at a new team’s three biggest one-hit wonders. These are players that had one great season or playoff run but never did anything like that again. Join us every day for a new team! Today we take a look at the Anaheim Ducks One-Hit Wonders.
The Anaheim Ducks Top Three One-Hit Wonders
On the very same day in 1992, both the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, owned by Disney, and the Florida Panthers, owned by Miami Dolphins owner and Blockbuster co-owner Wayne Huizenga, were granted franchises. They both slated in for the 1993-94 season, ahead of which would be the 1993 NHL Expansion Draft.
This Expansion Draft saw a fairly hefty protected list, making the pickings fairly slim for the new teams. The Ducks felt the brunt of this. Nearly all of their picks were young and unproven players, including Terry Yake and Tim Sweeney. This also included Bob Corkum, who was picked 36th in the Draft. He and Bill Houlder moved to Anaheim as the two picks from the Buffalo Sabres.
Like so many before and after him, Corkum was struck with the magic that is joining an expansion franchise. Prior to the 1993-94 season, Corkum’s career was fairly bleak. He was drafted eight years prior, only playing in 92 NHL games through three seasons and 164 AHL games, never mounting any notable performances.
And then he moved to California and something clicked. Finally appearing in a more-responsible role, Corkum tallied 51 points, including 23 goals, in 76 games. This ranked him first on the Ducks lineup in goals and second in points. It wasn’t enough to carry the Ducks to the post-season but it shined a bright light on Corkum’s play.
After the Wonder
It wasn’t meant to last, though. The 1994-95 season saw him fall back to the bar he set in Buffalo, though. He tallied 10 goals and 19 points in 44 games, far from the pace he scored at the year prior. The ’95-96 season saw much of the same, with Corkum tallying 12 points in 48 games with Anaheim.
Midway through a disappointing 1995-96, Corkum was dealt to the Philadelphia Flyers. The Ducks received Chris Herperger and a seventh-round pick in return. Corkum would only top 20 points two more times through his career, despite playing in six more seasons following 1995-96. He only saw double-digit goals once more.
The 1993-94 season was not only Corkum’s best year, but it was also, really, the only one where he was good. His 23 goals and 51 points were dazzling numbers on the new team, even beating out all but one player on the new Panthers lineup in scoring. On a new team, plagued by the design of a poor Expansion Draft, Corkum was dynamite. And then, he was awful. His 1993-94 season was one of the best examples of a one-hit-wonder that an expansion team has ever seen.
The Ducks saw a string of goaltenders through the 2010s. In fact, between 2009 and 2018, they cycled through 18 different netminders. This includes John Gibson, their current starter. Among these 18 was also Viktor Fasth, who the Ducks acquired in a desperate attempt to gain some comfort in the crease. They inked him to a one-year deal in the summer of 2012, after a terrific season in Sweden’s minor leagues.
Putting full confidence into the 30-year-old goalie, the Ducks presented Fasth with 25 games in the shortened 2012-13 season and he was terrific. He won 15 of those games while setting a .921 save percentage and 2.18 goals-against-average. This ranked him 20th and 17th in the league, respectively; albeit in a league that saw some terrific goaltending that season. His season earned him All-Star Game nods, although he didn’t make it, and set high hopes for his future.
In short, Fasth felt like he was settling in great in the NHL. After going undrafted and struggling to keep a role in Sweden’s top league, he was finally finding his groove. And much to the Ducks delight, given their search for a boost from the good-not-great Jonas Hiller that shared the net with Fasth.
After the Wonder
But the strong performance simply wasn’t meant to be. Fasth fell off almost immediately after the season ended. The following year, he’d tally an atrocious .885 save percentage in five games with Anaheim, contrasted with a dazzling .922 in five AHL games that year. Seeing the writing on the wall, Anaheim flipped him to the Edmonton Oilers partway through the 2013-14 season. In exchange, they received a third and fifth-round draft pick.
And while a trade did seem to enlighten Fasth – proven by his .914 save percentage in seven games with Edmonton to end the year – it was once again unsustainable. He set a .888 save percentage, 3.41 goals-against-average, and 6-15-3 record in the 2014-15 season. It was atrocious and it earned him a one-way ticket out of the NHL the following summer.
The now 37-year-old Fasth has spent the last three seasons performing admirably in the SHL but his golden days – or, more clearly, his golden-25 starts in 2012-13 – are far, far behind him.
Brandon McMillan‘s story is peaked simply by Anaheim’s devotion to his ability. During the 2008 NHL Draft, Anaheim traded away Marc-Andre Bergeron. He was sent to the Minnesota Wild, in return for the Wild’s third-round pick. The Ducks spent the pick on McMillan, clearly eyeing his talent after an admittedly measly CHL season. Prior to the Draft, McMillan only tallied 41 points in 71 WHL games. Not at all impressive but enough to land him an 85th-overall selection.
The Ducks would sign McMillan to his entry-level contract two years later, again after measly WHL years. He started the 2010-11 season in the AHL but after 16 games, and six points, he was recalled.
And that’s where McMillan’s one-hit season began. It was far from the jaw-dropper set by fellow one-hits Corkum and Fasth but McMillan’s rookie season was strong nonetheless. At 20-years-old, he scored 11 goals and 10 assists in 60 games. He seemed to fit right in on the high-scoring Ducks offence.
Joining as a rookie in 2010-11, McMillan was in very esteemed company. His 11 goals tied him with Matt Calvert at seventh among all rookies that year, ahead of fellow first-year players Tyler Seguin, Cam Fowler, Mats Zuccarello, and Jared Spurgeon. It was also 10 more goals than scored by Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Ryan McDonagh: also rookies that year.
McMillan’s point totals ranked 14th among rookies, ahead of players like Alexander Burmistrov and Calvert and was only one point behind Seguin, who played in 14 more games. So while McMillan’s 21 points weren’t at all dazzling, they ranked him well in the midst of what was a truly terrific rookie class. He was, quite literally, in some of the same conversations as Seguin.
After the Wonder
To say this set the bar high for McMillan would be an understatement. The 2010-11 rookie class did a great job of placing rose-tinted glasses over the league, with many players receiving high praise. But McMillan could never match it again.
In fact, he never even scored double-digit points again. In his sophomore season, he netted four points in 25 NHL games. Two years later, he was traded to the then Phoenix Coyotes for the aged Matthew Lombardi. After more unsuccessful play, he’d go on to also make a stop with the Vancouver Canucks for the 2014-15 season following a waiver claim. McMillan was ecstatic about the move to Vancouver, with it being his hometown, and was destined to right his ship. But, after eight games and only one point with the Canucks, McMillan was waived and thrown out of the NHL entirely.
He’s since moved to the KHL, where he’s spent the last four seasons. And, much like Fasth, he has found success in European play. But, again much like Fasth, it’s all for naught. McMillan’s decline didn’t come on the back of a fall from high-scoring to low-scoring. While his 11 goals were impressive, they pale in comparison to his contemporaries. Instead, his fall comes in the eyes of fans around the league. McMillan’s one-hit season saw him in the same conversation as current NHL stars but only five years later, he was booted from the league.