Friday, April 17, 2015

With Signing of Clayton Portland is Stocked at Forward for 2015-16

The Portland Winterhawks announced the signing of 1998 born Winger Brett Clayton out of the BCMML's Fraser Valley Thunderbirds today.

Clayton notched 34 pts and 137 PIMS in 40 games with Fraser Valley, competing against fellow BCMML product Austin Gray, who was also signed by Portland off of the protected list.

This got me thinking about next year's roster and the amount o competition there will be for roster spots. Lets take a look shall we:

De Leo

1995 Born Forwards:
-Counting on Nic Petan and Oliver Bjorkstrand to be gone and Tyson Predinchuk not to return to the team.
-Chase De Leo (Center, Drafted by Winnipeg in 2014, Unsigned)
De Leo does not have to be signed by the Jets until June of 2016, so my guess is that he will be returned to Portland for his over-age season and is a lock as one of Portland's three over-age players.

-Alex Schoenborn (RW, Drafted by San Jose in 2014, Unsigned)
Similar to De Leo, Schoenborn does not have to be signed until June of 2016 and is unlikely to be, in my opinion unless he has a great 20 year old year. What the Hawks do with Schoenborn is directly impacted by whether they choose to keep both 1995 born D-men: Blake Heinrich (if he is not signed by Washington) and Layne Viveiros. How well some of the younger guys play in camp, might make the decision to trade Schoenborn for Portland.

1996 Born Forwards:
-Paul Bittner (LW, Likely to be drafted this year in 1st or 2nd round)
Bittner will not be drafted high enough that there will be a real worry about him leaving the team for the pros. He is a lock on Portland's top 6 forward group.

-Dominic Turgeon (Center, Drafted by San Jose in 2014, Unsigned)
If Portland goes much further in the playoffs and Turgeon continues his play he may not remain unsigned for too long. He will return though for his 19 year old season though and will finally move up to a 2nd line Center role.

-Keegan Iverson (RW, Drafted by New York Rangers in 2014, Unsigned)
Iverson is another guy who will be counted on as a leader for Portland next year. Here's to hoping that he can consistently play at the level he showed us in February.

-Mitchell Walter (RW)
Still a little puzzled as to why Portland made this trade with Edmonton, giving up a 4th round pick, for a guy who has not shown much this season. He may find himself out of a job if Portland's younger players outplay him in camp.

1997 Born Forwards:
-Evan Weinger (RW, Likely to be drafted at some point in 2015 draft)
Weinger showed a lot of speed and skill, but needs to develop a little more touch. His physical play  alone will give him a spot somewhere in the top nine.

-Alex Overhardt (Center, could be drafted as well)
Just steady improvement for the young Centerman. Appears to be a favorite of the coaching staff, possibly meaning that he is a really hard-working player in practice.

-Jack Flaman (LW)
Pretty good in his own end but really has not shown too much offensively.

-Ethan Price (RW)
A fan favorite who left the team midway through the year in order to attend to some family issues. His future in Portland really needs to be ironed out.

-Colton Veloso (RW)
I would have liked to have seen more of him in Portland this year, as he's exhibited some scoring touch (scored a goal) and play-making ability.

-Austin Gray (RW)
A guy who was undrafted in the Bantam Draft but earned himself a look from Portland and ultimately a WHL Education Contract.

1998 Born Forwards:
-Skyler McKenzie (LW)
A small forward with a large chip on his shoulder. Throws a lot of hits when he's on the ice and has shown some play-making ability as well. I'm very interested to see how he develops.

-Reed Morison (Center)
A large center-man that needs to learn to use his frame more. Possibly a Dominic Turgeon type.
-Brett Clayton (LW)
Recently signed forward, appears to be the next Schoenborn or Iverson, with a lot of PIMS in the BCMML.

1999 Born Forward:
-Cody Glass (Center)
Portland's first top round Bantam Selection since Nic Petan. It will be really interesting to see how Portland chooses to develop him. He's currently with Portland on their playoff run, with the goal to expose him to a long playoff run.

Simple math shows that there are 16 currently signed forwards competing for maybe 13-14 full time spots on next season's roster. That's not including the 2-3 players, Portland usually signs sometime in the preseason.

Obviously there is a lot to do before Portland has to figure out what the 2015-16 roster will look like, namely finish the 2015 playoffs, but it's still interesting to contemplate the future. It certainly does not look as dire as you may have thought back in 2012, when all those draft picks were taken away.

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