Friday, September 6, 2013

Nine Winterhawks Go to NHL Camps/ Will They Stay?


The Hawks announced the other day that they would be losing 9 players to NHL camps this week. This means that for the final 2 games of the preseason schedule and perhaps longer, they will be missing 9 players off of their roster.

Portland fans that were disappointed after driving up to Everett and not really getting too much of a chance to see what the fresh faces can do, can rest easy, because there will be a whole lot of ice time for them this weekend.

The 9 players who are at camps for the Hawks, along with which team they are with and the likelihood they make the team is below (I did not include Ty Rattie and Tyler Wotherspoon as they are virtually guaranteed not be back with the Hawks this season):

  1. Derrick Pouliot- Pittsburgh Penguins- Drafted 8th overall in 2012. Derrick is the lone person on this list who has yet to suit up for the Hawks this season and he has the best chance to make his team. His speed and otherworldly play-making ability would make him a shoo-in, at least for a tryout of 9 games with most NHL squads. Portland fans can be grateful; however, that Derrick was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are loaded on the back end. They have 5 defensemen signed to 1 way contracts and another 2 or 3 that are probably going to receive higher consideration for a spot on the Pens, then Pouliot. Now, if he has an amazing camp and proves that he can be his own explosive offensive self AND he makes strides in his own end, then I could see Pittsburgh keeping him around for their preseason and more.
  2. Garrett Haar- Washington Capitals- 7th round pick in 2011. Garrett was picked up in the offseason in a move hoping to bolster the defensive unit. He has played well but on an inconsistent basis for the Hawks. The one skill he brings to the Hawks back end is his ability to jump up into the play seamlessly. Since the Hawk’s offense is built around mobile Defensemen, this helps his cause for ice time, especially in the power play. He is definitely a dark horse to make the NHL club, but I would not rule him out as an option to go to Hersey; Washington’s AHL affiliate. They could even send him to the ECHL, should they choose to, but they would have to sign him to a rookie contract. My bet is that he is sent back to the Hawks for his over-age season, for seasoning and to ensure that he has his head on straight, after having trouble with the Western Michigan coaching staff last year.
  3. Anton Cederholm- Vancouver Canucks- 5th round pick in 2013. Anton showcased his physical presence in his first preseason game, after sending a Spokane Chiefs forward flying on his very first shift. It is safe to say that there is much more of that in store for the Hawks fans to enjoy this season, as I doubt he will make the Canucks as an 18 year old. Anton likely will be sent back to the Hawks very quickly and this will only help him make the adjustment to the WHL game, which is desperately needed.
  4. Nic Petan- Winnipeg Jets- 2nd round pick in 2013. Nic played in 2 of the preseason games up in Everett and looked really, dare I say, improved from last season. I don’t know if this is worth another 80 point jump for him this year, but he looked like the puck was stuck to his stick blade for large portions of the games he played. His chemistry with the next guy on this list is reminiscent of Todd Robinson and Brenden Morrow. These guys look like they really enjoy playing with one another. They even made a borderline 4th line player in Alex Schoenborn look like a top liner, just by giving him chance after chance, until he walked away from the weekend with _ points. Back to the point at hand, even though he will be sure to impress at Jets camp, he is a very long shot to make it as an 18 year old.
  5. Brendan Leipsic- Nashville Predators- 3rd round pick in 2012. Brendan was his old self last weekend, chipping in 5 points and just dominating on the offensive end. The NHL, as they say, is a whole ‘nother bag of tricks though. He is on the small side and is not enough of a burner on the speed side to make up for it and make the jump to the NHL at 19. He will need at least another year with Portland before going onto professional hockey and learning to add defensive skills to his repertoire.
  6. Oliver Bjorkstrand- Columbus Blue Jackets- 3rd round pick in 2013. Oliver has improved so much ever since he came over and started adjusting to the North American style of hockey. He looks to be a large part of the best second line in the league with Chase De Leo and Taylor Leier. He will likely grow even more after getting some expert (Columbus is an NHL team after all) tutelage in chain restaurant heaven. That being said, there is almost no chance he makes the team as an 18 year old.
  7. Taylor Leier- Philadephia Flyers- 4th round pick in 2012. Besides Pouliot, this is the only, non 20 year old, other real threat not to come back to the Northwest. Taylor does so many things well; there is really very few weaknesses in his game. He is a physical, defensive player that would be any coach’s dream. The Flyers have had a recent history of pulling up young players and having them contribute right away (see Sean Couturier and Scott Laughton). All this having been said, Taylor does not have that explosive offensive game that will make him contribute on the score sheet right away in the NHL. For this and really not much else, I see Philly sending him back to the Hawks until next year.
  8. Adam De Champlain- Vancouver Canucks- Free Agent Invitation 2013- This was a real surprise for anyone that has watched Adam play the last year with the Hawks. He plays a real physical style of game, that would draw a scout’s attention, but he does not excel at a lot of other things. He is not much of a goal scorer and at 6’1” 179 lbs, he needs to put a lot more muscle on his frame. Adam does, however, a lot of the dirty work in the corners and seems to be a guy that any coach would love to have. For these reasons, along with probably having played for Vancouver’s AHL Coach Travis Green in Portland, he seems to have drawn the NHL’s roving eye. The Canucks are a team that seems to really in need a lot of good prospects, so this could be a place where he could earn a contract in camp. Even if he does get a contract, he will most certainly be back for his 19 year old season.
  9. Brendan Burke- Phoenix Coyotes- 7th round pick 2013- This is a big season for Brendan as he has been assured the #1 Goalie position in his 3rd season with the Winterhawks and has a chance to go to an NHL camp and learn from arguably the best Goaltender Coach in the NHL Sean Burke. Oh and they don’t just have the same last name, the Coach is his Father. Sean Burke being the Coyotes Assistant, I’m sure had a lot to do with bringing in Brendan as a draft pick. There is a lot of potential there for Brendan as he can be assured he will be given a fair shake. That being said, there is 0% chance that he sticks with the Coyotes at this point.
    Burke at Coyotes camp

More than likely, all 9 players will be back playing for the Winterhawks this season. The only question is when? Of the 8 teams with Winterhawks on this list in camp, their preseason camps close on September 27th.  If all 8 of the non-20 year old players are kept with the big club; they can play up to 9 games before the NHL team has to decide whether or not to keep them for the season. I really do not see this applying to anyone on the Hawk’s roster.
Since Portland’s season starts September 20th, it is likely they will be missing some part of this group for the first week of the season. This means that the young guys in camp, will get a lot of ice time and a really good opportunity for fans and the Coaches to get to know them.

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