Thursday, July 30, 2015

Thursday, July 30th Winterhawks News and Notes

Walker Signs Extension in Austria:
-Former Winterhawk: Luke Walker (2007-10) signed a 1 year contract extension with the Graz 99ers of the Austrian Erste Bank Eishockey Liga. Last season was Walker's second playing in Europe but first playing in Austria as he played 2013/14 in the KHL for the Croatian club: Medvescak Zagreb. For Graz last year he dropped 31 points in 51 games and was his teams 2nd leading scorer. In 2015/16 he will be Graz's leading, returning scorer and will be looked at to help carry the team.

How Much Scoring Did Hawk's Lose?
-Something that Alan Caldwell over at Small Thoughts at Large does seemingly every year is the tabulation of how much scoring each team is losing from the last season. Until we get his work, I thought I would look at what the Winterhawks are likely losing.

Here is whom the Hawks are for sure or at least not very likely to get back and their point totals from 2014/15:
  1. Oliver Bjorkstrand 63-55- 118 pts
  2. Nic Petan 15-74-89 pts
  3. Chase De Leo 39-45-84 pts
  4. Miles Koules 26-32-58 pts
  5. Layne Viveiros 8-35-43 pts
  6. Anton Cederholm 9-10-19 pts
  7. Adam Henry 8-10-18 pts
  8. Josh Hanson 1-9-10 pts
  9. Tyson Predinchuk 2-6-8 pts
  10. Josh Smith 0-1-1 pt

Here are Portland's returning scorers and their point totals from last season:
  1. Paul Bittner 34-37-71 pts
  2. Dominic Turgeon 18-25-43 pts
  3. Keegan Iverson 15-24-39 pts
  4. Alex Schoenborn 15-18-33 pts
  5. Keoni Texeira 8-18-26 pts
  6. Evan Weinger 7-19-26 pts
  7. Blake Heinrich 5-17-22 pts
  8. Skyler McKenzie 4-12-16 pts
  9. Alex Overhardt 2-9-11 pts
  10. Ethan Price 4-5-9 pts
  11.  Brendan De Jong 2-3-5 pts
  12. Colton Veloso 1-0-1 pt
  13. Austin Gray 0-1-1 pt
  14. Jack Flaman 0-1-1 pt
 Some quick math reveals that Portland is losing 448 points from last years squad and is returning 304 total points. That means they are returning only 40.4% of their points from last season.

Looking just at goals, they will be losing 171 goals and returning 115 goals. This means they are returning 40.2% of last year's goals.

So I guess it's pretty easy to say that Portland is only returning 40% of last year's offense and thus losing 60%. That is a massive loss of point production from last year and will mean that they need a ton of increased offense from the likes of Turgeon, Bittner, Iverson and Schoenborn, combined with more goals from rookies Rodrigo Abols, Carl Ericson, Jack Dougherty and Caleb Jones to be as successful as they were last year.

The recipe for success for Portland this year is going to have to be a much better defense. They will need to give up far fewer then the 217 goals they gave up last season. With a top 4 Defensive corps of Jones, Dougherty, Texeira and Heinrich, combined with a possibly improved Adin Hill, this improvement is possible. How many fewer goals they will give up this season depends on much more then this though and some of Portland's best possession and defensive forwards are not returning.

Another year in the WHL for Portland Coach Jamie Kompon is perhaps the best asset that they have entering this season as the Hawks team defense got better as the season and playoffs went on last year.

We will find out soon just how much this lost offense will impact this year's team.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tuesday, July 28th: Winterhawks News and Notes

Ericson and Abols Signed:
-The forward group for 2015/16 is taking shape now as the Winterhawks announced Monday that they have signed their two 2015 CHL Import Draft picks to Education Contracts. The Hawks first pick is 6'3" 179 lb, 19 year old, Latvian Center: Rodrigo Abols. He has played for the Latvian International team for multiple years and has provided points for the team a each tournament he's played in. Abols has also worn letters on multiple occasions and could wear the "C" for the Latvian team at the World Junior Championships Division 1A tournament this December. If he is named to the Latvian team for Division 1A tournament it would mean he would be playing at the U-20s for the 3rd straight year.

While playing for the Maritime Hockey League's HK Riga last year, Abols notched 38 points in 35 games and was named to the All Star Team. He also moved up to the Continental Hockey League (KHL) where he scored 5 points in 14 games for the Latvian based: Dinamo Riga. It was likely he would've played again in the KHL this year as a 19 year old, but he's elected to come over and play for the Winterhawks instead.

Ericson is a 5'9" 163 lb, 19 year old Center from Sweden that was taken in the 2nd round of this year's import draft. He's played for the Leksands J18 and J20 and last year in Sweden's Junior League he scored 42 points in 43 games before moving up to Sweden's pro league, where he was pointless in 11 games. I don't think it's fair to compare the two player's stats when they moved up top the professional level as Abols has a bigger frame and thus more equipped to play against grown men then Ericson probably was.

While Head Coach/GM Jamie Kompon praised both Abols and Ericson for their "200 foot game" and commitment to both ends of the ice, Hawks fans should be patient with them for the first couple months of the season, while they get adjusted, especially if Kompon puts one of them at the 2nd line Center spot, which is likely.

Here's how I see the forward depth chart as it now looks:
  1. Paul Bittner-Dominic Turgeon-Keegan Iverson
  2. Alex Schoenborn-Rodrigo Abols*-Evan Weinger
  3. Skyler McKenzie-Alex Overhardt-Ethan Price
  4. Jack Flaman-Carl Ericson*-Cody Glass
  5. Austin Gray-Reed Morison-Colton Veloso
  6. Brett Clayton*
And the Defense group:
  1. Caleb Jones*-Jack Dougherty*
  2. Blake Heinrich-Keoni Texeira
  3. Brendan De Jong-Nick Heid
  4. Carter Czaikowski-Justin Greer
  5. Conor MacEachern*-Jackson Caller*
  6. Jake Hobson*
Finally the Goalies:
  1. Adin Hill
  2. Michael Bullion 
*=Has not played a game for the Winterhawks as of yet.

Price and Greer are question marks at this point as Price left the team mid-season last year to play for the USHL's Lincoln Stars, while Greer missed training camp with an illness last season and it is unknown if he played at all last year (I could not find proof that he played anywhere).

If these two are in the fold then Portland currently has 16 Forwards and 11 D-men signed to Education Contracts. Usually there is a couple signings around when the Neely Cup happens in late August, but outside of some of the 15 year olds and the likely signing of a 3rd Goalie, I really could not see them adding many more players. Obviously, if Kieffer Bellows, Fredrik Olofsson, Jack Glover or Ryan Collins decided to come then they would be sure to find room.

One of the interesting things as the season starts is if the Hawks will go after a 3rd over-age player as right now they only have Heinrich and Schoenborn. Having this many players already on the roster will give Portland's coaching staff the ability to assess where help is needed the most and they can go after that position in a trade.

Bartschi Still Without a Contract:
-Vancouver Head Coach Willie Desjardins is apparently a big fan of former Winterhawk Sven Bartschi but that till does not mean that the Canucks have given in and signed him to a long term deal. They appear to just be offering a 1 year "show me" 2-way deal but Bartschi's camp wants a 1 way contract for longer then 1 year. Now today with the Canucks sending away a large piece of the Ryan Kesler trade in Nick Bonino and also a top prospect in Adam Clendening, signing Bartschi has to be imperative. If they cannot find  a way to sign him then they essentially blew another trade. I would look for him to be signed soon.

 Kopitar Signed by Manchester:
-Former Winterhawk Gasper Kopitar  signed with the ECHL's Manchster Monarch's today. He played 12 games between 2009-11 for Portland before leaving for Des Moines of the USHL. Since then he's played over-seas and in the ECHL. Last year for the Ontario Reign he scored 25 points in 41 games.

Johansen in Portland:
-Ryan Johansen has been visiting Portland this week as part of the Winterhawk's Hockey Camp for kids. He was also a part of the Winterhawk's Golf Tournament over the weekend. It's great to see someone who's succeed at the professional level come back and give back to the community.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Winterhawks Add Defenseman Jack Dougherty

The Nashville Predators signed 1996 born Defenseman and 2014 2nd round pick (51st overall) to an Entry Level Contract today, meaning that per NCAA rules, he was no longer eligible to return to his team: the Wisconsin Badgers of the NCAA. As part of the statement they released today, Nashville also announced that Dougherty is expected to play the 2015/16 season for the WHL team that owned his rights which happens to be Portland, who added him to their protected list a couple seasons ago.

Dougherty is from St. Paul, Minnesota and is a product of the St. Thomas Academy, where he helped win back back to back Class A Minnesota State titles from 2011-13. Then in 2013/14 he played for the USNTDP U-18 Team and notched 6 goals and 16 assists for 22 points in 55 games. He also helped the U.S. win gold at the Ivan Hlinka Tournament. He then played a lot of minutes as a Freshman for the University of Wisconsin, which had one of it's worst seasons in it's entire history. Dougherty was an awful minus 25 and notched only 9 points in 33 games. 

It did not appear that Wisconsin was going to be much better this season and this was probably one of the reasons that Nashville signed him and had him come over to the WHL and play for a team that's at least made the Western Conference final for 5 straight seasons. Not only is consistently losing bad for a player's development; only getting to see them play 33 games a season, really does not allow for you to properly assess his skill level. Also, NCAA rules do not allow prospects to attend rookie camp so now he will be able to get all kinds of tutelage from the Predators coaching and be informed about what he needs to improve on this coming season.

Dougherty played for the U.S. internationally and like Dominic Turgeon was invited to World Juniors Evaluation Camp, but also did not make the team. Dougherty was invited back this season and if he has a solid camp at Lake Placid, he should make a U.S. team that goes in as one of the favorites to medal. Oddly enough at Lake Placid Camp, all four Winterhawks hopefuls will be playing for the Blue Team. If fellow D-man Caleb Jones and Dougherty establish some chemistry, we may be looking at a top 4 pairing for the 2015/16 Hawks.

Now getting to what Dougherty brings to the Winterhawks: taken straight from Future Considerations: "Dougherty is an intelligent defenseman who tries to blend strong positioning while trying to inflict a physical dimension on his opponent. He isn't the fleetest of foot, but does get where he needs to go. He also makes a strong first pass and has solid offensive instincts."

At 6'2" and 190 lbs it's easy to see why Dougherty is a strong physical D-man. The fact that he's apparently great at positioning himself in his own zone, should mean that he will transition well to the WHL style and ice surface. From the little I've seen of him, I don't think he's that slow and I really doubt the stacked U.S. World Junior team would even think about making room for him if he was that slow, especially when playing on the larger International ice surface. The "strong first pass" aspect is essential to Coach Jamie Kompon's system as they will need a great outlet pass to establish possession in the opponent's zone. Portland's Blake Heinrich is a very solid outlet passer and if Dougherty can bring this from the right side of the defense, Portland could set up a lot of odd man chances this coming season.

But the biggest thing that Dougherty has the potential of  bringing is a great right handed shot. While Mathew Dumba briefly brought a howitzer of a right handed point shot, Portland has not entered a season with a dynamic right handed shot form the blue line since Troy Rutkowski played his over-age season in 2012/13.  Since then D-men like Derrick Pouliot (in 2013/14) and Layne Viveiros (in 14/15) have been forced to play right D on Portland's top pairings. While both did an admirable job (Pouliot was named CHL D-man of the year for Christ's sake), this was not their natural position and at times it was exposed. Not only does Dougherty bring a solid shot form the point, he's a natural right D, who reportedly is great at positioning,

In the clip below, Dougherty moves over from the right side to the left, takes a pass on his backhand, moves to an opening towards the slot and seamlessly lifts a wrist shot over the Goalie's blocker side. This shows a lot of comfort with moving the puck and it looks like he would be a natural fit on the power play.

With the addition of Dougherty it appears that Portland's defense is going to enter the 15/16 campaign in much better shape then it did last season and Dougherty could help replenish some of the multitude of goals that Nic Petan, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Chase De Leo and Miles Koules took with them when they left. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Thursday, July 23rd: Winterhawks News and Notes

Price Listed on Lincoln's Preseason Roster:
-Portland Winterhawks forward Ethan Price is listed on the USHL's Lincoln Star's preseason roster that was released this week. Where Price will report this season is a big question as we get closer to Portland's training camp and the Neely Cup. Price is a 1997 born player and would provide one of the few right handed shots returning to this year's team. In 38 games last year, Price notched 4 goals and 5 assists for 9 points, while playing mostly on the 3rd and 4th lines. Due to some family issues, Price was sent home to Lincoln, where midway through last season and he played in 30 games for the Lincoln Stars, scoring 3 goals and adding 6 assists. Price played mostly on the Hawk's 4th line last season but could see a lot more playing time due to the loss of RWs Oliver Bjorkstrand and Miles Koules, who were above Price on the depth chart. Him being on the Star's preseason roster, doesn't necessarily mean that he's for sure not coming back to the Hawks but if he's not around for the Neely Cup in August, then we can assume he will be staying in the USHL. A lot of players go the USHL route in order to play in the NCAA when they turn 18. This is not an option for Price as he played in the WHL and thus is ineligible to ever play in the NCAA.

Taking a look at Portland's returning Wingers that scored points for them last season, shows how much they could use him this coming season.

In the table below are the returning point getters that played games at either RW or LW last season for Portland.
Of note is the fact that RW Mitchell Walter played 19 regular season games and 16 playoff games without scoring a point last year. 1998 born Forward: Brett Clayton is another player who could play wing for the Hawks this coming season. Overall, in looking at the table, you can see that Portland could use as many proven WHL scorers as they can in their lineup this year.

Player (Position)G PGoalsAssistsPointsBirth Year
Paul Bittner (LW)663437711996
Keegan Iverson (RW)681524391996
Alex Schoenborn (RW)491518331995
Evan Weinger (RW)*61719261997
Skyler McKenzie (C/LW)*65412161998
Ethan Price (RW)384591997
Colton Veloso (RW)*81011997
Austin Gray (RW)*50111997
Jack Flaman (C/LW)*340111997

*=Rookie in 2014/15

Pearce Eviston Re-signed by Quad City:
-Former Winterhawk: Pierce Eviston(2010-12) was re-signed by the ECHL's Quad City Mallards after scoring 27 points in 60 games for them last year. Eviston only played 20 games for Portland over 2 years and had a tough time getting into the lineup for teams that were loaded with talent at his position. He ended up going back to the BCHL and seems to have found a way to get a nice pro career going, despite not being successful in the WHL.


Lofthouse Going to University of Regina:
-Former WHLer: Trent Lofthouse who suited up for Portland in the preseason last year before being released prior to opening night, has committed to the University of Regina. Last year he ended up playing for Fort McMurray of the AJHL, where he scored 39 points in 43 games. From 2011-14, he played for Everett, Victoria and Vancouver and scored 38 points in those 4 years. He will now be using the 4 years of college that he earned and also play for the University of Regina.

Saad and Johnansen Could be a Dynamic Duo:
-One of the most interesting things to watch during the 2015/16 NHL season will be how much better former Winterhawk Ryan Johansen will be with a prolific winger in Brandon Saad playing with him. Both Saad and Johansen have shown glimpses of greatness and are both only 22 years of age. This piece by Adam Gretz of CBS Sports looks into how good Saad and Johnansen could be together.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tuesday, July 21st: Winterhawks News and Notes

Demin and Kim Find Scoresheet at U.S. Select 15 Camp:
-Recent Winterhawks Bantam Draft picks Stanislav Demin and Noah Kim both assisted on goals for their teams yesterday, during the last games for each of them at Select 15 camp. Demin, who is a 6'0", 165 lb left shot D-man from Cypress, California, assisted in his team: Team Kelly's 8-4 loss to Team Red. Team Kelly finished with an 0-5 record at the Camp. Kim's assist, which was his 2nd of the tournament, came in an 8-5 loss to Team White. The loss meant that his team: Team Gold came in 2nd in their Division, with a 3-2 overall record. Kim is a 5'10", 168 lb, right shot D-man from Fullerton, California.

Ginnell and Paul are Passed Over for Team Alberta:
-Recent Winterhawks Bantam Picks: Forwards Bradley Ginnell and Justin Paul, were passed over for Hockey Alberta's U16 short list for the Western Canada U16 Championships. Ginnell was a 5th round pick (105th overall) and played last season for the Calgary Royals Bantam AAA team last season, while Paul was an 11th round pick (237th overall) out of Sherwood Park. It appears that Portland's top pick in the 2015 Bantam Draft is their only prospect who has a shot at playing in the U16 Championships as Kamloops, B.C. native and 4th round pick (70th overall): Ty John Kolle was at Team B.C. Provincial Camp last week and could have a shot at being named to Team B.C. (the roster will be announced in October).

College Commit Signs with Tigers:
-Max Gerlach, who had committed to the University of North Dakota, signed with the Medicine Hat Tigers today, meaning he has given up his NCAA eligibility. The decision seemed to come as somewhat of a shock to those in the know as he seemed to be gearing up to play in the USHL this season. Of note is the fact that two of Portland's prospects: Forwards Mitchell Mattson and Luke Voltin are also commits to UND and Mattson is of the same birth year as Gerlach (1998).

Jones and Wardley Sign With University of Lethbridge:
-Zane Jones and Evan Wardley committed to the University of Lethbridge today and will be playing CIS hockey next season. Montreal had expressed some interest in Wardley last season and even invited him to training camp, but it looks like he will not be signed by them. Wardley was an over-age D-man for Seattle this year and along with Jared Hauf combined to be one of the most physical D-pairings in the WHL. Jones was originally drafted by Chilliwack and ended up playing for 5 different teams over his career in the Dub.

Bartschi and Canucks Yet to Hash Out Deal:
-Former Winterhawks Forward Sven Bartschi is in the middle of contract negotiations with the Vancouver Canucks and appears to be desiring a commitment from Vancouver that he will not be given a 2 way deal and play yo-yo between the AHL and NHL like he did for the Calgary Flames. Vancouver's G.M. is former Winterhawks D-man Jim Benning and as of yet neither former Hawk has given in. The Vancouver Province has a good piece going over what players could be seen as comparables to Bartschi and whom has the upper hand in negotiations.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Monday, July 20th: Winterhawks News and Notes

Hawks Prospect Kim Competing at U.S. Boys Select 15 Camp:
-2015 10th Round Bantam Draft Pick: Defenseman Noah Kim has been competing in the Select 15 camp for USA hockey and after playing 4 of the 5 games, his Team (Team Gold) is 3-1 overall. He has so far notched 1 assist as Team Gold is tied for 1st place in the American Division at the camp. Kim and Team Gold have one more game which is tomorrow vs. Team White. Everett Silvertips Bantam Draft Pick: Ryan Savage is Team Gold's 2nd leading scorer with 5 pts in 4 games.

Tips and Broncos Prospects Sign In Austria:
-Speaking of Ryan Savage; he apparently has agreed to play with EC Red Bull Salzburg this coming season, making it unlikely that he will ever play for the Silvertips. He was taken in the 4th round of the 2015 Bantam Draft. Joining him in signing with EC Salzburg was fellow Silvertip's Draft Pick: Forward Carson Dimoff (7th Round: 2014), as well as, Swift Current Bronco's Draft Pick: Forward Riley Stotts (1st Round: 2015). According to Gregg Drinnan's: Taking Notes, the Stotts signing is only "rumored" thus far. Since EC Salzburg has U-16, U-17, U-18 and U-20 squads it's likely that these three will not be playing in the WHL, unless an NHL team drafted them and requested that they play in the Dub.

Pouliot Impresses at Penguin's Development Camp:
-Former Winterhawk: Derrick Pouliot was reportedly, quite impressive at Pittsubrgh Penguin's development camp. His team shut out the other squad 6-0 and Pouliot stood out defensively. If he continues to improve in his own end, he will be locked in as a top 4 D-man for the Pens and will be relied upon to play heavy minutes, especially since they just lost Paul Martin to San Jose in Free Agency. Pouliot also showed toughness during the scrimmage by playing through a cut he received from a teammate's stick.

Kompon #23 on Canzano's List:
-Oregonian writer: John Canzano is compiling a list of the top 25 most influential people in the Oregon sports scene and Portland Head Coach: Jamie Kompon made the list for the first time at #23. One of the reasons listed for having Kompon in the top 25 was the fact that he will be coaching Canada's U-17 team.

Schedule Ahead for Winterhawks at Lake Placid Camp:
-Dominic Turgeon, Paul Bittner and Caleb Jones are 3 of the 39 USA World Juniors hopefuls that will be present in Lake Placid for Evaluation Camp, starting August 1st. Here is the schedule for their "Team Blue" and the later schedule when the two teams are combined:
  • August 1st, 2pm: Team Blue vs. Team White Practice.
  • August 2nd, 1pm Team Blue vs. Team Sweden.
  • Agusut 3rd, 10am Team Blue vs. Team Finland.
  • August 5th, 1pm Team USA (Whole Team) vs. Finland.
  • August 6th, 10am Team USA (Whole Team) vs. Sweden.
  • August 8th, 10am Team USA (Whole Team) vs. Finland.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Friday, July 17th: Winterhawks News and Notes

Turgeon, Bittner and Jones on Same USA Squad
-Today it was announced that Dominic Turgeon, Paul Bittner and Caleb Jones will all be playing for "Team Blue" at the USA World Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid, N.Y. from August 1st-8th. The three Winterhawks are attempting to impress at Lake Placid and earn an invite to World Juniors main camp this winter. All but one of the members of Team Blue have been drafted by NHL teams. Protected list D-man: Jack Dougherty (Playing at the University of Wisconsin) will be among those playing with the 3 Hawks. Seattle's Scott Eansor and Tri City's Evan Sarthou and Brandon Carlo will all be playing for "Team White" at camp.Turgeon is actually attending his 2nd Lake Placid Evaluation Camp, as he was invited last year.

Aronson Extended by Nashville:
-Former Winterhawk D-man Taylor Aronson(2009-11) was signed to a 1 year, 2 way contract extension by the Nashville Predators yesterday. Aronson was Nashville AHL affiliate: the Milwaukee Admirals leading scoring D-man with 32 points in 73 games. The 23 year old blue liner is hoping to make his NHL debut for the Preds this year.

DeBrusk with a Slick Shootout Move at Camp:
-Swift Current Broncos forward and recent 1st round pick by the Boston Bruins: Jake DeBrusk pulled a very nifty shootout move at Bruins camp and it's definitely worth watching. DeBrusk notched 81 points for the Broncs last season and could be in the hunt to be the WHL's leading scorer this coming season. Here are all 42 goals he scored last year.
Speaking of the hunt for next year's scoring title, in the table below are the (likely) returning leading point getters from 2014/15. Of note is the fact that Medicine Hat should return three of the top 7 returning leading scorers, but all of them are over-agers, so tough decisions may need to be made. Portland mined the Tigers for Miles Koules last year and could try and acquire one of these three.

The leading scorers from last year that won't be returning are Oliver Bjorkstrand (1st, Portland), Cole Ully (5th, Kamloops), Nic Petan (7th, Portland), Chase De Leo (12th, Portland) and Nikita Scherbak (16th, Everet) who are all turning pro and Adam Tambellini (10th, Calgary) and Jack Rodewald (11th, Moose Jaw), who aged out.
Trevor Cox

Player (Team)G PGoalsAssistsPointsBirth Year
Trevor Cox (Med Hat)6929801091995
Tim McGauley (Brandon)7242631051995
Cole Sanford (Med Hat)725045951995
Nick Merkley (Kelowna)722070901997
Adam Helewka (Spokane)694443871995
Brayden Point (Moose Jaw)603849871996
Dryden Hunt (Med Hat)713350831995
Rourke Chartier (Kelowna)584834821996
Luke Philp (Kootenay)713052821995

Crunk Picked Up by Vancouver
-Over age Forward Taylor Crunk was placed on waivers by the Victoria Royals and quickly picked up by the rival Vancouver Giants. Crunk is 6'1" and 220 lbs and played the enforcer/fighter role for Victoria last year, notching 103 penalty minutes and only 14 points in 71 games. Crunk, together with Forward: Carter Popoff and D-man Arvin Atwal, will likely be the Giant's three over-age players. Crunk may miss some time though while attending to his off the ice legal concerns, stemming from a fight at a New Year's Eve party last year. His court appointment is on September 21st.

Flames Trying to Get Kylington to Wheat Kings:
-2nd round NHL draft pick: D-man: Oliver Kylington could be inching closer to playing in the WHL next season, especially if the Calgary Flames have their way. Kylington is currently under contract to play for a tier 2 Swedish professional team, but Calgary is apparently checking into an "out clause" that may be in his contract. One would think that it would serve him better to play in the WHL, especially for a team like Brandon that's expected to contend for the WHL title, rather than a lesser division in his native Sweden. If Oliver does come over, Brandon will easily have the best top 4 D-men in the WHL. Kylington would join New York Islander's 5th round pick: Ryan Pilon, Philadelphia Flyer's 1st round pick: Ivan Provorov and top 2016 NHL Draft prospect: Kale Clague. 


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tuesday, July 14th: Winterhawks News and Notes

McManus Lights Up U.S. Select 16 Camp; Named to U-17 Team:
-2014 4th round Bantam Draft Pick: Brannon McManus was the leading scorer at the U.S. Select 16 six day camp recently, notching 11 points in just 5 games. McManus was rewarded by being named to the U.S. U-17 roster right after camp ended. He played for Shattuck St. Mary's last year and is committed to play for the University of Minnesota. Another Winterhawks prospect: Cole Guttman (2014 Bantam Draft: 8th round) was a leading scorer at the Select 16 camp (Tied for 3rd with 8 pts). Guttman is far more likely to end up in Portland, as he has not committed to a college and was an attendee at last year's Neely Cup. Guttman is a 5'9" 161 lb, 1999 born Center from L.A. Jr. Kings U-16 program.

 U.S. Division Team's Overage Situations:
-Tim Pigulski wrote a piece looking at the Seattle Thunderbirds' overage situation for the 2015/16 season. Seattle is one of two U.S. Division teams that appear to have three pretty clear players for the 1995 born spots. Seattle has Defensemen: Jared Hauf and Jerret Smith and recently acquired (from Lethbridge for fellow over-age Forward Cory Millette) Forward: Jamal Watson. Tri City also recently cleared up their O/A situation by trading away Center Justin Gutierrez to Lethbridge for a Bantam pick. T.C. now has Forwards: Parker Bowles and Beau McCue, as well as, D-man: Tyler Morrison as their three 20 year olds.

Everett started out with five '95 born players, but announced that Logan Aasman has left the team to play the 2015/16 season with the AJHL's Brooks Bandits. They now have Forwards: Carson Stadnyk and Remi Laurencelle, D-man: Cole MacDonald and Goalie: Austin Lotz. I would guess that Lotz will be traded at soem point, though it can be difficult to move an O/A Goalie. Of note is the fact that both Stadnyk (St. Louis Blues) and Lotz (Buffalo Sabres) were at Prospect Development Camps and could receive pro. deals (at some level) at some point.

Spokane's O/A situation is the most crowded of the U.S., as they have Forwards: Adam Helewka, Riley Whittingham, Blair Oneschuk and Devon McAndrews, D-men: Jason Fram and Nick Charif and Goalie: Garrett Hughson. That's six 1995 born players for only three spots. In my opinion, Oneschuk and McAndrews are out as they are more bottom six Forwards then top six (They combined for only 17 pts last season). Helewka was recently drafted by San Jose and was at their Development Camp. Fram was an invitee to Calgary Flames Development Camp and could be invited back for camp in September. Likely though, they will both return, meaning the Chiefs will likely have to decide between Charif (who they traded for last season), Whittingham (5th highest returning scorer with 33 pts last year) and Hughson (who started 53 games for them last season), for just one spot. I would tend to think that the leftover two will play elsewhere in the WHL.

Finally, due to players leaving because of signed professional contracts, Portland will likely be left with under the maximum of O/A players again. Currently it looks like the San Jose Sharks will not sign Alex Schoenborn before the season starts (though I could be wrong). Add him in with Blake Heinrich, whom Washington decided not to sign, making him a free agent and you've got two of the three spots filled. I would like to see Portland shore up this 3rd spot before the Neely Cup, unlike last year.

Bartschi Refusing 2-Way Contract?:
-Former Winterhawk: Sven Bartschi has yet to be signed by the Vancouver Canucks, who traded a 2nd round pick for him during last year's trade deadline. According to Hockey Buzz, Bartschi is refusing to sign a 2-way contract, as he's hoping to play the whole season at the NHL level for the first time in his career. With all the talk around Vancouver, being that they are looking at him in a top 6 forward role, I get why he thinks he has the leverage to secure his role.

Oilers Steal Rockets Top Choice for Head Coach:
-Edmonton hired Ian Herbers, who coached the CIS' University of Alberta Golden Bears to a title last season, as an Assistant Coach, meaning that one of Kelowna's top choices for their vacant Head Coach position, is unavailable. The Rockets now seem to have former Kootenay Ice Coach Ryan McGill at the top of their list.

Johnston Signs Deal with the ECHL's Idaho Steelheads:
-Former Winterhawk D-man Daniel Johnston (2007-09) will play his 3rd season in the ECHL and this one will be in Idaho. In a strange twist he played against Idaho last season during a 4-OT epic playoff game last season while with Evansville. Idaho won that game, the series and now have signed Johnston over to their side.

Quenneville Signs with New Jersey:
-Brandon's John Quenneville signed a 3 year Entry Level Contract with New Jersey Monday. This means that 8 of the 9 WHL players selected in the first round of the 2014 draft have signed ELCs. The one remaining player who hasn't is Colorado Avalanche pick (23rd overall) and current Red Deer Rebel: Conner Bleackley. A bad sign for Bleackley is the fact that Avs Coach: Patrick Roy was critical of his conditioning at training camp last season and may've soured on the Forward. A positive for Bleackley is that he will be a leader on the Rebel's team, which is hosting the 2016 Memorial Cup, so he will have plenty of chances to impress Colorado or maybe even another NHL team, willing to trade for his rights.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Monday, July 13th: Winterhawks News and Notes

Turgeon at camp
Turgeon Impresses Wing's Head Coach:
-New Detroit Red Wings Coach Jeff Blashill, who coached Detroit's AHL affiliate: Grand Rapids for 3 seasons before being promoted after former Spokane Chief's Head Coach left to take over the Toronto Maple Leafs, was impressed by Dominic Turgeon's performance at Prospects Camp. Of note from the interview is that Blashill feels like Turgeon could improve his confidence when carrying the puck. I would agree with this statement completely, as Turgeon has shown signs the last couple of years of elite puck handling skills, but very rarely does he try to carry the puck into the zone on his own. It certainly looks like he's going to be Portland's top line Center next season and will be relied on a lot to carry the offensive play. Gone are Nic Petan and Chase De Leo, who along with Oliver Bjorkstrand (also gone), were Portland's best players at possessing the puck and driving play. I believe, Turgeon has the skills to do this, but we will definitely see this coming season, whether I am right.

Koules Hunting an NHL Deal with Washington:
-Former Winterhawk, Miles Koules has apparently turned down several AHL deals, in order to try and ink a 2 way NHL deal with the Washington Capitals. He, apparently had a great development camp and will likely be invited back in September.
Goulbourne and Leier

Leier a Big Goulbourne Fan:
-Former Hawk Taylor Leier was at Philadelphia Flyers development camp with former Kelowna Rocket: Tyrell Goulbourne and apparently the two are close friends. Leier had a good camp and is looking to possibly make his NHL debut at some point this coming season, after scoring 31 points last season for the Flyers AHL affiliate the Adirondack Phantoms. Of note is the fact that Leier tied as the 3rd fastest skater at camp.

Kevin Young Continuing Hockey Career:
-Former Winterhawk's D-man Kevin young (1999-2001) signed a contract extension with the ECHL's Allen Americans. Young notched 44 points last year as his team won the Kelly Cup as champions of the ECHL.
Jost and Fabbro

Jost and Fabbro Top Rated Prospects:
-Tyson Jost, whose WHL rights are owned by Everett and Dante Fabbro, whose rights are held by Seattle, could be just the 3rd BCHL duo to be drafted in the first round. According to "Dub From Above": Kyle Turris and Riley Nash (2007) and Travis Zajac and Kris Chucko (2004) are the other two duos. Speaking of Jost, he was part of The Pipeline Shows in studio segment and talked about how he feels about the possibility of going to Everett. All 3 segments can be found here. Regina Pat: Sam Steel was also in studio. Lets just say it's really not looking likely that Jost will wear Everett's green and white.

Penguins Really High on Pouliot:
-The full breakdown of the Toronto-Pittsbugh Phil Kessel deal can be found here. According to this writer, Toronto really wanted Pit to include former Winterhawk: Derrick Pouliot, but the Penguins were unwilling to do so. This caused talk of the deal to take much longer than originally thought. This goes a long way to show you how much Pittsburgh thinks of Pouliot and probably means he will start the season in a top 4 rotation role and might mean he will see some power play time.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Winterhawks Notes: Thursday, July 9th

Getting caught up on a few things that happened over the past few days:

Petan Talks About Mindset After Being Sent Back to the Dub:
-A really good Winnipeg Free Press piece goes into the mindset Petan had after being sent back to the WHL, despite a strong camp last year. While I would not necessarily disagree with this piece saying that he "didn't give up," I believe that there was a noticeable drop in his effort level until the World Juniors in late December. He had 33 points in first 26 games last season, but a lot of these could be attributed to just passing the puck to Oliver Bjorkstrand and letting him do his thing. Multiple times, I noticed him skate, very slowly, to the bench after his shift. After the WJC's, however, he was incredible and earned the "C" that had been given to him at the start of the season. He finished the season with 56 points in his last 28 games and then scored at least once in the 17 playoff games, totaling 28 and carrying the team offensively. I would look for Petan to make his debut for Winnipeg at some point this season. It would be really cool if he were playing for the Jets, when they visit his hometown Vancouver Canucks in mid-March.
-A blog post looking at Winnipeg Jets prospects, has Petan as their 4th best prospect and Chase De Leo as their 15th best. I have not seen Kyle Connor play, but cannot see how he could be rated over Nik Ehlers (2nd), Josh Morrissey (3rd) and Petan on their list.

De Leo's Versatility Sets Him Apart:
-Article about Chase De Leo talks about his growth while with the Hawks and even mentions that Coach Jamie Kompon would put struggling players with De Leo in order to get them out of their slumps. He definitely had my vote last year for the "Most Consistent Winterhawk" honor. Another interesting part in this interview is how former Hawk coach Mike Johnston pointed out Tyler Johnson, when Chase was 16 and Tyler was an over-age with Spokane, as someone he should model his game after. This was years before Tyler broke Tampa Bay's playoff goal scoring record and became the go to player for smaller players to point at as a reason they could succeed in the NHL. With the way Chase plays day in and day out, I could really see him being the next Tyler Johnson.

McLeod Talks Abut His Time in Portland:
-Former Winterhawk and current Colorado Avalanche pugilist Cody McLeod was interviewed by Mile High Sticking and he talked about how he decided to change his playing style while in Portland and became more of a fighter, leading to his long career in the NHL. Here's a quote from the article:

 “With the Portland Winter Hawks, I knew that I would have to be a tougher player and stick up for my teammates if I wanted to have a career. I definitely took a lot of poundings in juniors before I got the hang of it. I still do, because you’re not going to win them all. It’s part of the game and I’ll just keep it going.”
I've always admired how great a teammate Cody appears to be and how much he gives back to the community.

Turgeon Finishes with 3 Total Pts in Two Red Wing's Scrimmages:
-Dominic Turgeon added an assist in the 2nd and last scrimmage at Detroit Red Wing's Development Camp Tuesday afternoon. He also played a great diving play defensively that was all for naught, as "Team Lindsay" tied "Team Howe" late in the scrimmage, setting up a 3 on 3 OT period. In the video at the link,  Turgeon's assist is at the 5:43 mark.
-Then during a shoot out, Turgeon pulled a nifty move in beating the Goalie. The goal is at the 0:35 second mark of the video.

Cederholm Helps Pull a Bus:
-Anton Cederholm is at Vancouver Canuck's Development Camp and he and his teammates used a rope to pull a bus up the hill. This was seemingly to demonstrate how as a team you can accomplish much more, than you can individually.

Bellows on CSS "Futures" List:
-Winterhawks prospect and 2015/16 USNTDP Forward Kieffer Bellows was listed on NHL Central Scouting's Futures List. Bellows is looking like a lock to be a first round pick in the 2016 NHL draft. What happens after he's drafted, could be interesting as some NHL teams have encouraged their draftees to abandon their college commitment to play in the CHL. Columbus being the most notorious.
Some Bellows highlights are shown in this video.

Switzerland Out for Matthews But Europe Still Possible:
-Possible #1 overall 2016 NHL Draft pick Auston Matthews appears to not be able to get clearance to play in Switzerland, but Europe is still looking like a possibility, according to the Hockey News. It looks like one of the potential landing spots for Auston is in the DEL with Munich. This whole thing does not look good for Everett, who owns his CHL rights, as he seems to be looking at any possible avenue to play professionally, even if it could damage his draft stock, by having him play in a lower league. One has to think that if they can land Matthews, Tyson Jost would follow suit and leave Penticton of the BCHL.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Winterhawks Notes: Monday, July 6th

I am hoping to do these as frequently as I can.

Turgeon Impresses at Red Wings Development Camp:
-Hawks Center: Dominic Turgeon has been attending Detroit Red Wings Development Camp, which goes July 3rd-7th. During the first scrimmage of camp, Turgeon was the top line Center on "Team Howe" and centered a line with top prospects: Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi. In a 6-5 loss to "Team Lindsay," Turgeon potted a goal and an assist. In this piece form the SB Nation blog: "Winging it in Motown," Turgeon apparently has grown leaps and bounds in his play-making ability. This is something, Portland will rely heavily upon next season, as he and Paul Bittner are the only two of Portland's top 7 scorers likely to return. The Wings were impressed with him enough during Portland's playoff run to sign him to an Entry Level Contract and they could keep him in the main training camp long enough to see some preseason action this September/October.

Koules Joins Texeira at Capital's Camp:
-Former Winterhawk Miles Koules was added to the Washington Capital's development camp roster; joining current Hawk's D-man Keoni Texeira. Koules was invited to Washington's main training camp last fall and is hoping to earn himself at least an AHL contract. As an over-age last season, Koules showcased several elite level skills, including his shot and his ability to possess the puck for long periods of time in the other team's zone. Hopefully, Washington likes the California native enough to give him a pro deal. Capital's camp goes July 7th-11th.

Johansen and Dubinsky Bitter:
-Former Winterhawks and current Columbus Blue Jacket's: Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Johansen took to twitter over College Free Agent and current University of Minnesota Golde Gopher D-man Mike Reilly choosing to sign with the Minnesota Wild instead of CBJ. Johansen tweeted that: "we didn't want him anyways," while Dubinsky tweeted using the hashtag: "burnt bridges." To me it's a little refreshing to see two players speak their mind, instead of the robot like answers they give to most questions from the media. It also shows that these two players are really invested in what their team does in the offseason, rather than not caring who they paly with and just cashing a check.

Dan Lambert Leaves Kelowna:
-The first Rocket's Head Coach to actually beat Portland in a playoff series has left to become an assistant coach under Dan Bylsma with the Buffalo Sabres. This means that Kelowna will have their 3rd Head Coach in about 13 months. Ryan Huska had been the Kelowna Head Coach for 7 seasons, before leaving to become the Head Coach of the AHL's Adirondack Flames. Lambert was Huska's assistant for 3 of those 7 seasons and he was the natural fit for the job. His coaching job after Portland took a 2-1 series lead in the WCF was fantastic. He was able to get his team to adjust and come together to overcome the Winterhawks. An interesting note from this is that of the 5 new Western Conference Coaches hired just last year, only Don Hay (Kamloops), Jamie Kompon (Portland) and Mike Williamson (Tri City) are still coaching their teams.

Wheaton Traded to Saskatoon:
-Veteran D-man Mitch Wheaton was traded from Kelowna to Saskatoon for a 4th round, 2017 Bantam Draft pick today. Wheaton had 28 points in 2013/14 and was coming off being drafted in the 5th round by the Detroit Red Wings in 2013, but had injuries derail his 19 year old season, to the extent that he played in only 13 games all of last year. With Goalie Jackson Whistle and Forwards: Tyson Baillie Gage Quinney and Cole Linaker all likely to be back and vying for the 3 over-age spots, Wheaton was the odd man out. If Wheaton recovers nicely, he could very well earn himself a free agent AHL or NHL contract this season, as he's a very good shutdown D-man.

Links to Must Read Pieces:
-If you haven't read it yet, NHL veteran and former CHLer (with the Barrie Colts of the OHL) wrote a fascinating article about his battle with drug addiction. It really opens your eyes to the interpersonal struggles that a lot of hockey players are going through. I second his closing thoughts in regards to getting immediate help if you are struggling with any mental health problems.
-A pretty good argument by "The Hockey Writers," for not rushing 18 year old D-men into the NHL. This piece centers around Brandon Wheat King's D-man Ivan Provorov signing an ELC with the Philadelphia Flyers and comments made by Flyer's management that could mean they are looking at keeping him around for the regular season. While it's mainly about Provorov, this could have applied to Portland's Seth Jones several years ago.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Winterhawks Notes: Thursday, July 2nd

A lot of noteworthy Winterhawks related items today.

Three Winterhawks Prospects Named to USA U-18 Team:
-Forwards Garrett Wait (2013 draft:8th round pick) and Henry Crone (Protected List Addition) and D-man Sam Rossini (Protected List Addition) were all named to the U-18 USA roster for the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup. This is the premier tournament for the U-18s and all three 1998 born players will be representing the U.S. in an attempt to get the States their first Gold Medal since 2003. Wait and Rossini are both committed to the University of Minnesota and will play together for the Waterloo Blackhawks in 2015/16. Crone is committed to Boston University and will also play in the USHL in 15/16 for the Omaha Lancers.

The Ivan Hlinka Cup usually takes place in mid-August and is considered the first premier scouting opportunity for the 2016 NHL draft. Spokane's Kailer Yamamoto was also named to the U.S. roster.

Texeira Invited to Capital's Development Camp:
-D-man Keoni Texeira was passed over in last week's NHL draft, which was a little surprising, but he's been handed an invited to Washington Capital's Development Camp and will try to put himself on the Cap's radar for next year's draft or maybe even their rookie camp this fall. Washington has had an interesting history with Portland D-men recently. They drafted Garrett Haar in the 7th round of the NHL draft, then decided to not sign him to an NHL contract, but rather to an AHL one for the Hershey Bears in 2014. In an awkward turn, Haar ended up playing last year in the ECHL for the South Carolina Stingrays and notching 16 points in 35 games.

Then in 2013 Washington drafted Blake Heinrich, who also ended up later playing for Portland. Heinrich was not signed by the Caps and is officially a  free agent. As of the writing of this piece, he has not been invited to any development camps and is slated to return to the Hawks for his over-age season in 15/16.

Texeira has shown flashes of talent in his two years and rebounded after a rocky start, when Heinrich returned from a concussion related absence. Capitals camp is July 7th-11th.

-Hawks prospect Nic Nonis(Protected List Addition) was invited to Anaheim Ducks development camp.

-Other Hawks who were drafted recently (Paul Bittner, Adin Hill, Caleb Jones, Dominic Turgeon, Alex Scheonborn, Chase De Leo, Nic Petan, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Keegan Iverson and Anton Cederholm) will assuredly be at their team's development camps.

Open Door for Rattie:
-Mount Vernon, Washington native T.J. Oshie was traded from the St. Louis Blues to the Washington Capitals today. This is huge for former Winterhawk Ty Rattie who looks to have a chance to nab a possible top 6 winger role with the Blues. Rattie has yet to score an NHL goal for St. Louis, despite scoring 52 over most of 2 seasons in the AHL. St. Louis reportedly wants to get younger and faster and moving Rattie up the depth short will certainly help that.

LaBarbera's Career Still Going:
-Former Winterhawk Jason LaBarbera has signed a 1 year, 2 way contract at the age of 35 with Philadelphia, meaning he will be battling for a backup Goalie spot in training camp. He has spent parts of 14 seasons in the NHL for 6 NHL clubs, Philly being his 7th.
-Former Winterhawk Center Cam Reid also signed a contract extension with the ECHL's Reading Royals. Reid scored 59 points in 59 games last year for the Royals.

Dates for Blue Jackets Rookie Camp:
-Portland got a good idea of how long they might be without new Columbus Blue Jacket: Paul Bittner when they released their Traverse City Schedule. It's looking like it will go from 9/11 to 9/15, with main camp starting the 18th and the first preseason game being the 20th of September. Bittner would likely miss the last 4 preseason and probably at most the first two regular season games (9/25 and 9/26 @Victoria).