Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Returning Winterhawk Profile: #9 Chase De Leo

(Editors note: In the countdown to the Winterhawks season opener, I will be looking, individually, at each of the returning Winterhawks who look to be on the opening night roster).

Next up (in numerical fashion): #9 Chase De Leo

Born: 10/25/1995
Hometown: La Mirada, California
Position: Center
How Acquired: 9th Round Pick (192nd Overall) in 2010 Bantam Draft

-2011/12: 69 Games Played, 14 Goals, 16 Assists, 30 Points, +12, 25 Penalty Minutes
               Playoffs: 22 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 Pt, 2 PIMs
-2012/13: 71 GP, 18 G, 38 A, 56 Pts, +28, 24 PIMs
               Playoffs: 21 GP, 5 G, 12 A, 17 Pts, 15 PIMs
-2013/14: 72 GP, 39 G, 42 A, 81 Pts, +49, 36 PIMs
               Playoffs: 21 GP, 10 G, 9 A, 19 Pts, 6 PIMs

NHL Drafted: Winnipeg Jets 4th Round (99th Overall) in 2014. Unsigned.

-Chase came into Portland as another under-sized yet skilled forward. He found a real home in his 17 year old season as the second line Center between Taylor Leier and Oliver Bjorkstrand. Chase at first concentrated on setting up these two skilled forwards, but last year, during his draft year he showed a real goal scoring touch around the net and had 7 multi-goal games. This despite being the odd man out on the Hawk's top power play unit.

He will, most likely, take over Brendan Leipsic's spot as Center on the top unit this coming season. In a lot of ways, prior to last season he was a little lost in Petan's shadow, but emerged as a play maker in his own right, finishing 19th in the WHL in points. He is one of the Hawk's top puck carriers and one of the best two way forwards, as well. Countless times last season. Chase's back-checking tied up an opponent's stick and prevented a scoring chance. He plays a crucial role on the Hawk's penalty killing unit and should continue to be one of Portland's most trusted players this coming season in every situation. One weakness that was exploited last season was his poor faceoff skills, which could see him move to the wing on the second line with Dominic Turgeon and Alex Schoenborn.

-Of all of the Winterhawks who attended USA jr. Development Camp; Chase should be the biggest lock to make the team. His type of NHL ready play-making and puck handling skills are an asset to a team competing in a short tournament like the World Juniors and will even more valued on a team lacking a lot of those like the U.S. Chase could also miss time at the beginning of the season at Winnipeg Jets training camp.

He impressed the Jets during Rookie Development Camp in July and could get an extended look and even a contract before returning to the Hawks for his 19 year old season. Chase has put on 7 more lbs this past off season and will need to show more strength in the corners, as well as, an improved shot to guarantee a contract from Winnipeg and a spot on the USA WJC roster. If he played on a team with a less skilled forward unit, Chase would be the go-to Center, but his drive and all around ability, should be enough to push for increased playing time. One things for sure, his good looks and personality will continue to win over fans of the Jets, not even considering his unique personal connection to another Jets prospect that will interest the common fan.

Previous Returning Winterhawk Profiles: Brendan Burke, Anton Cederholm, Ethan Price. Josh Hanson, Paul Bittner

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