Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Hawks Trade Burke and Acquire Johnson; Henry in 2 Deals

The Portland Winterhawks made 2 separate deals today, taking care of a couple different concerns all in one day. The first concern involved the budding Goal-tending controversy as Adin Hill's performance since returning from injury, firmly supplanted him as the #1 Goalie. This left Brendan Burke riding the pine, which is not something you expect a Arizona Coyotes draft pick to do in his 19 year old season, while trying to earn a contract.

Enter the Calgary Hitmen, who dealt Portland 18 year old backup Goalie Evan Johnson and a 4th round pick for Burke. Calgary was looking for a Goalie as 19 year old starting Goalie Mack Shields has had an up and down season. Shields has a season 2.88 GAA and a 0.895 Save %, but has lost 3 of his last 4 starts and was yanked out in one of those games. I would look for them to give Burke a chance to win the starting gig for a team that is currently 11 points behind Medicine Hat for the Central Division lead.

Evan Johnson is out of Winnipeg, Manitoba, where Portland has been getting a lot of it's players lately. He has okay numbers at 2.84 GAA and 0.894 Save % in 15 games this year. Johnson is listed at 6'0, 175 lbs.

Burke's career with Portland is something of a sobering affair. He played extremely well in 2012/13 as Mac Carruth's backup and seemed to be ready to take over in his 18 year old season. Then Head Coach/G.M. Mike Johnston never really showed too much confidence in Burke and elected to trade for Corbin Boes at the trade deadline. Burke played well in the first 2 rounds of last year's playoffs, but was yanked in the Western Conference Final in favor of Boes. Burke only was able to get back in net when Boes started wavering in net and ultimately went down with an illness. With a fresh start this season though it seemed we would finally get to see the Burke, we had all anticipated with such a great pedigree, large frame and solid technique. We should have known it was all for naught though, when in his first preseason start vs. Spokane in the Everett tournament. Burke gave up 5 goals on 23 shots and slammed his stick on the top of his net after giving up the 5th on what looked like a rather weak shot. He was chided by a Portland fan in attendance and the troubled relationship Burke had with Winterhawks fans was obviously never going to get better.

Burke just never really showed the confidence necessary and when he was in net, there always seemed to be something strange that would happen and end up with a puck behind him. From a Josh Hanson pass last year that deflected in off of him to weird bounces off the end board this year, Burke seemed somewhat cursed in a Winterhawks jersey. He goes to Calgary with a fresh slate and I wish him nothing but the best, as he needs to really turn everything around in order to get Arizona to sign him and to keep from becoming a free agent next summer.

In the 2nd trade, Portland addressed their D-man need, by acquiring over-age D-man Adam Henry from Saskatoon for a 2017 second round pick. Henry has 3 goals and 19 assists in 35 games for Seattle and Saskatoon this season. Henry is a solid puck moving D-man, who was great for Seattle last season, notching 38 points in 64 games. Henry has been the power play quarterback for different teams over his last couple seasons and I would look for Portland to try to find a spot for him. He immediately has one of the best slap shots on the team and this is something the power play has really missed with Layne Viveiros looking more for deflections then to blow it by the Goalie.

I was of the mind that Seattle should have kept Henry over Evan Wardley in their struggle to get down to 2 over-agers, but Seattle chose to trade Henry to Saskatoon for D-man Turner Ottenbreit instead. This has worked out well for Seattle, as Ottenbreit has been a great fit for them.

Henry was originally a 3rd round Bantam Draft selection for Lethbridge in 2009 and has been traded twice in the past 15 months.

As when Blake Heinrich entered the lineup, I would look for Portland's other D-men to improve, as they are place in roles that better fit their abilities. We will see which D-man Henry will pair with, though I think he would do well with Anton Cederholm and this way Viveiros could move down to play in the 3rd pairing with Hanson, Brendan De Jong or Nick Heid; keeping Keoni Texeira and Blake Heinrich together. I would not be surprised though, if they started him on the 3rd pairing though.

Interesting to note, with the trade of Burke, Portland now has only 3 players that they drafted in the first 5 rounds of the WHL's Banatam Draft. Here is where they drafted the current players on their roster, along with the year:
1st: Nic Petan (2010)
2nd: Keoni Texeira (2012)
3rd: Dominic Turgeon (2011)
6th: Ethan Price (2012)
7th: Brendan De Jong (2013)
8th: Skyler McKenzie (2013)
9th: Chase De Leo (2010), Layne Viveiros (2011)
11th: Alex Overhardt (2012)
12th: Evan Weinger (2012)
13th: Blake Heinrich (2012)

Thanks to Alan Caldwell over at Small Thoughts at Large,; after today's deals here are the picks Portland has left:

2015: 4th-12th round picks (acquired the 4th wehen Adam Tambellini came back for his over-age season.
2016: 3rd, two 4ths(acquired a 4th for Burke) and 5th-12th picks.
2017: 3rd-12th round picks (traded 2nd rounder for Henry).
2018: All picks are retained as benefit violations end in 2017.

Other Winterhawks news today: Keegan Iverson was suspended for 2 games, after receiving a match penalty for taping his hand and cutting a Seattle player while fighting him on Sunday.

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