Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Wednesday's Portland Winterhawks News and Notes: Roster at 25

Bittner Hits Post in NHL Preseason Debut:

-Paul Bittner, who has had a whirlwind summer with being drafted and signed by the Columbus Blue Jackets got to play in his first NHL preseason game last night and nearly scored his first goal off a pass from former Portland Winterhawk Ryan Johansen. Bittner skated 13:12 of ice time and took 2 shots in the Blue Jacket's 3-1 split squad win over St. Louis. Former Hawk Ty Rattie skated 19:04 of ice time for the Blues and took 4 shots in the loss.

Bittner, Iverson and Texeira Returned:
-The game last night, looks to be Bittner's only one with CBJ this year as he was re-assigned this morning back to Portland. He will be joined by Keegan Iverson, who was re-assigned by the New York Rangers. While, he did not play in any games, Iverson must've impressed to hang around in camp this long. Depending on flights, the two should be able to play in Friday's season opener in Victoria, unless Head Coach Jamie Kompon wants to rest them a bit.
-Keoni Texeira also should be back in time for the game, as the Washington Capitals released him from his ATO without yet signing him to a deal. He has definitely gotten their attention and if they like how he plays this year, they can sign him to an Entry Level Contract, or risk him being drafted in next June's draft by another team.
-This means Portland now had a full roster of 31 and had to make some cuts prior to Friday's season opener. The goal was for the Hawks to get down to around 14-15 forwards, 7-8 D-men and 2 Goalies and they did so(down to 25), according to the roster posted on the Winterhawks website.
-The following players were released or re-assigned by Portland:
  • #38-Reed Morison-1998-Center-Still on Protected List.
  • #36-Mitch Walter-1996-RW-Appears to have been released.
  • #26-Jack Flaman-1997-LW/C-Appears to have been released.
  • #6-Jack Hobson-1999-D-Still on Protected List.
  • #2-Jackson Caller-1999-D-Still on Protected List.
  • #30-Ethan Middendorf-1999-G-Still on Protected List.
-Morison is a big framed forward who seems to have not quite figured out how to use his size yet. His skating needs to improve and lack of scoring touch in the opportune areas was an issue in the preseason. Marked improvement is needed during his time with whomever he will start the season with this year. A home in the AJHL could happen for Morison.
-Walter was given chances playing with Paul Bittner and Dominic Turgeon in the preseason and did not look like he could keep up. Unfortunately, for him he was just not elite at any one thing. He played with an edge and threw his body around, but when confronted in the game last Friday in Everett, he did not answer the call in a fight, so could not play the enforcer role for the Hawks. He was acquired by Portland last year in a trade with Edmonton for a 4th round Bantam pick in the 2016 draft and played 19 regular season and 16 playoff games without recording a point. He got in one fight with the Hawks and was on the losing end to the extent that he reportedly suffered a concussion. Head Coach/GM Jamie Kompon may've been thinking that Walter could bring his experience from being in the locker room of a Memorial Cup winner while with the Oil Kings, but I just did not see enough from Walter to warrant giving up a 4th round draft pick.
-Jack Flaman is another story. He showed glimpses of talent last season, while playing a 4th line role with the Hawks, especially early in the season, when many players were absent at NHL camps. One of the parts of the game he excelled at was the Penalty Kill. He was always solid in his own end and during the Neely Cup this year he showed flashes of offensive talent. Unfortunately, though during the preseason, despite notching 2 goals and 1 assist, he did just did not show enough indispensable talent that Portland could hold back the development of 16 year olds Ryan Hughes and Cody Glass for. I would not be surprised if he found a home with another, less deep team somewhere in the WHL.
-While Portland went young at forward, among the bubble players, they decided to re-assign their two 16 year old D-men. Among the 16 or 17 year old D-men I saw play in the preseason, I liked Hobson the most. I could see him making an impact with the Hawks next year.
-Middendorf was just not going to beat out Mike Bullion as back up Goalie. I think Bullion would've needed to have quite a few porous outings in the preseason for him to lost this spot and three straight 42+ save performances are definitely not that.

Igor Larionov II Only Hawk on Injured List:
-The first Weekly Report of the 2015/16 season came out and newly acquired Igor Larionov II was the only player listed as out. His injury, though was listed as "Lower Body- Day to Day," which does not fit with the concussion issues I have heard he was suffering from. Nonetheless it means that Evan Weinger is finally healthy enough to play. He was recovering from off-season shoulder surgery and was unable to play in any preseason games.

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