-The NHL's preseason got started with a few games Sunday and some more last night. Former Winterhawks Taylor Aronson (2009-11) and Taylor Leier (2011-14) both scored goals in their team's preseason openers. For Aronson it was his very first NHL goal and could be the start to a great season professionally. He signed a 1 year, 2 way contract in July and he looks to be in a position to make his NHL debut during the regular season at some point this year. For a D-man who was down in the ECHL just two years ago, this is incredible. Aronson had 16:23 of total ice time on the night and skated 1:05 of short handed ice time as well. The goal was Nashville's first during the game Sunday and they would go on to lose to Florida 3-2.
-Leier, meanwhile is also launching an important professional campaign, the right way with a goal in Game 1 of the preseason. Leier's goal came with under a minute left in the 2nd period and with his tam trailing 3-0. The Flyers would go on to make it closer at 3-2 but still lost by that margin. Leier skated 14:35 of ice time and appears to have been one of the Flyer's top penalty killers as he was out there for 3:32 of short handed time (tops on the team).
Other Recent, Former Winterhawks in Action Monday Night:
- Oliver Bjorkstrand (Columbus 1-0 S/O Loss to Pittsburgh)14:14 TOI, 2:04 PPTOI, 1 Shot.
- Brendan Leipsic (Toronto 4-1 Win over Ottawa)11:57 TOI, 2:02 PPTOI, 1 Hit.
- Tyler Wotherspoon (Calgary 3-1 Loss to Edmonton)16:29 TOI, 3:12 SHTOI, 2 Hits.
-Playing on a line for Portland with Seattle Thunderbird Keegan Kolesar, Bittner makes his professional debut against former Winterhawk Ty Rattie and the St. Louis Blues. My guess is that Bittner is sent back to Portland tomorrow after getting a taste of NHL preseason action, but who know, if he impresses enough, he could get a longer look. Attached video is of Bittner's Dev. Camp debut
Top 125 WHL Players of All Time:
-Since the WHL is entering their 50th season, they have decided to ask a committee to select the top 125 players in the 50 year history of the WHL.
-Not surprisingly, there are a lot of Portland Winterhawks (or Winter Hawks as it were).
Here is the full list of Hawks with when they played in Portland and some notes:
- Wayne Babych RW(1976-78) 3rd overall pick by St. Louis in '78.
- Jim Benning D(1978-81) 111 Assists in '80-81, named the WHL's top D-man). He is now the GM of the Vancouver Canucks.
- Ken Yaremchuk C(1979-83) Three straight 100+ pt seasons. Third in career points (424) and second in total assists (280) in team history despite only playing three seasons.
- Ray Ferraro C(1982-83) Dropped 90 points as a 16 year old before being traded off of the Memorial Cup winning team the following season. He would score 192 points for Brandon the next season and be named WHL MVP.
- Cam Neely RW(1982-84) Scored 146 pts in only 91 career WHL regular season games before moving on to the NHL and dropping nearly 700 career points. He also played "Sea Bass" in the film: Dumb and Dumber.
- Glen Wesley D(1983-87) He was named Western Conference D-man of the year two seasons in a row and went on to play nearly 1500 games in the NHL.
- Dennis Holland C(1985-89) Rookie of the year in 1986-87 and won the WHL scoring title in 1988-89. He is 2nd in team history in pts with 429 and is first overall in goals with 179.
- Todd Robinson C(1994-99) Rookie of the year in 94-95, led the league in scoring in 1996-97, won the faceoff that led to the OT winner in the Memorial Cup final in 98 and is the franchise leader in pts (470) and assists (325).
- Marian Hossa RW(1997-98) Rookie of the year in 97-98 and has gone on to over 1,000 NHL career pts, as well as, 3 Stanley Cup titles.
- Ty Rattie RW(2008-13) 1st team Western Conference player in 2011-12 and 2nd team in 2012-13. WHL Finals MVP in 2012-13 and 2012-13 Memorial Cup All Star.
- Ryan Johansen C(2009-11) First Team Western Conference player in 2010-11 and was the 4th overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft.
- Derrick Pouliot D(2009-14) 2013-14 WHL and CHL D-man of the year and 1st team Western Conference player.
- Nic Petan C(2010-15) Two straight 100+ pt seasons, tied for WHL lead in scoring in 2012-13, 1st team Western Conference team in 2013-14 and 2nd team Western Conference player in 14-15. Won a gold medal as 2015 WJC as well.
- Oliver Bjorkstrand RW(2011-15) 63 Goals in 2014-15 and 118 pts in 14-15, despite only playing in 59 games. WHL MVP in 14-15 as well.
1)Portland Winterhawks (Winter Hawks)=14
2)Brandon Wheat Kings=13
3)Kamloops Blazers (Jr. Oilers)=10
3)Medicine Hat Tigers=10
6)Swift Current Broncos=7
9)Tri City Americans=5
10)7 Franchises tied with 4
-I did not take the time to look through each players entire team list and count each one (that's insane even for me), but I counted the teams that the WHL list named as their last WHL team or previosu WHL team where applicable.