Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Wednesday's Portland Winterhawks News and Notes: What are Some Over-age Options?

The Portland Winterhawks have an open over-age slot this season with the only 1995 born players on the roster being Alex Schoenborn and Blake Heinrich. While a D-man is an option for Portland, I don't see them trying to bring in another D-man, when their top 4 seems to be pretty set. At the forward position, though, there seems to be an opening for a really skilled over-age player that can help them replace all of the scoring they lost through Oliver Bjorkstrand, Nic Petan, Chase De Leo and Miles Koules.

Let's take a look at the other WHL teams out there that could be looking to unload a 1995 born player in order to make the limit of three over-age players, by the deadline of October 15th.

Brandon Wheat Kings
  1. Rihards Bukarts (Forward) Also an import.
  2. Tim McGauley (Forward)
  3. Colton Waltz (D-man)
  4. Macoy Erkamps (D-man)
-McGauley, who was 3rd last year in WHL scoring is going to be out for up to 8 weeks with a shoulder injury and he was probably the most likely of the 4 to be kept. Brandon received D-man Ivan Provorov back from the Philadelphia Flyers who took him 8th overall in last June's draft, meaning the Wheaties also have one too many import players now. 18 year old forward Dario Winkler was selected in last May's import draft giving them three foreign born players and they are only allowed to keep two. No other WHL team currently has an over-age and an import spot both available so Brandon will likely need to make multiple moves. My gut says that Bukarts will be the one ending up with a different home, but it's tough to see him coming to Portland.

Calgary Hitmen- Currently at three but could receive D-man Keegan Kanzig back at some point. Earlier this week he was sent by the Calgary Flames to Stockton of the AHL to attend their camp. If he does come back to Junior, Calgary will have to choose between him, Goalie Brandan Burke, D-man Colby Harmsworth and Forward: Elliott Peterson.

Everett Silvertips
  1. Remi Laurenecelle (Forward)
  2. Carson Stadnyk (Forward)
  3. Cole MacDonald (D-man)
  4. Austin Lotz (Goalie)
-It seems fairly obvious that the Tips are trying to find a home for Lotz but with Portland, Moose Jaw and now Swift Current as the only teams with room for another 20 year old, I just don't see this happening. They will likely wait right up until the over-age deadline (October 15th) and see if another WHL team's Goalie suffers a significant injury or if they don't have faith in their 'tending situation to make room for Lotz.

Kamloops Blazers
  1. Matt Needham (Forward)
  2. Luke Harrison (Forward)
  3. Ryan Rehill (D-man)
  4. Marc McNulty (D-man)
-Kamloops has taken turns through their first couple games in scratching one of the D-men and since Needham is their Captain, I get the sense that it will be one of them or Harrison that's shipped out. If they get a tempting offer for Rehill, I could see them biting but I don't know how much value the other two have in the current WHL market. My guess is they end up cutting ties with Harrison by releasing him

Kelowna Rockets

  1. Gage Quinney (Forward)
  2. Tyson Baillie (Forward)
  3. Cole Linaker (Forward)
  4. Jackson Whistle (Goalie)
-The Rockets re-assigned 3rd string Goalie Jake Morrissey, so it looks like they will be riding with Whistle and back-up Michael Herringer. Baillie has to be un-touchable for them, meaning it will come down to Quinney, who was acquired last year as part of the Josh Morrisssey deal and Linaker, who has been with the team since 2011. Both Linaker and Quinney scored pivotal goals in the Rockets WHL Championship run  last year and either could possibly find a home in a lot of team's top 6 (but once again room would have to be made for almost all teams).

Kootenay Ice
  1. Luke Philp (Forward)
  2. Jon Martin (Forward)
  3. Tanner Lishchynsky (D-man)
  4. Wyatt Hofflin (Goalie)
-They could have as many as 5 if Jaedon Descheneau is returned from the AHL's Chicago Wolves training camp. He was drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the 2014 NHL draft and has yet to sign a pro deal. The Ice are currently carrying 3 goalies, like Everett, so they could be shopping Hofflin around, but have not found a suitor. Philp is the most enticing option for a team like Portland as he is highly skilled and could add a smaller, speedy option for Portland's top 6 forward group that they really don't have outside of Skyler McKenzie. The Ice really need to look at whether or not they think they can contend this year and if they don't think they can, then dealing Philp and the rights to Descheneau could get them some prospects or picks that will help them build for the future. That's easier said then done though, when you struggle to get 2,000 fans for your season opener and are in danger of being re-located.

Medicine Hat Tigers
  1. Markus Eisenschmid (Forward) Also an import.
  2. Cole Sanford (Forward)
  3. Trevor Cox (Forward)
  4. Ty Stanton (D-man)
-Eisenschmid is currently at Montreal Canadians, but has not had the chance to play, like Everett's Noah Juulsen, as he's been battling a hip injury. The Tigers already have two imports in D-men Tamas Laday and Alexey Platanov, so if he is returned, they will have to find a home for Markus or one of the others and one of the import D-men. I would think that Eisenschmid will not play another game in the WHL, but will find a home somewhere in the pro ranks.

Moose Jaw Warriors- They only have two over-age players, as Torrin White left the team earlier this week.

-I wouldn't doubt that Moose Jaw was trying to find a home for White, before he took matters into his own  hands and left the team. White is from Medicine Hat, so he may have been hoping to end up with Med Hat. I don't know if White would want to come all the way down to Portland, rather then just go and play for the University of Alberta, but even if he did, I don't see Portland pulling the trigger on acquiring his rights.

Regina Pats
  1. Taylor Cooper (Forward)
  2. Aaron Macklin (Forward)
  3. Colby Williams (D-man)
  4. Daniel Wapple (Goalie)
-Regina actually made a deal bringing in Aaron Macklin from Prince George right as the season started. They did this because Williams will likely miss the whole first half the season with an arm injury and Cooper will miss at least a month recovering from off season shoulder surgery. This gives them the time to see what Macklin can bring them, before they have to make a decision.

Seattle Thunderbirds- Could have an over-age opening if Jamal Watson earns an AHL contract after training camp with St. John who is Montreal's affiliate.

Spokane Chiefs- Currently at three, but could be forced to make a tough decision if Adam Helewka is sent down after attending training camp with the San Jose Barracuda, the AHL affiliate for the San Jose Sharks, who drafted him this June.

Swift Current Broncos- Released D-man Griffin Foulk, just hours ago, meaning that they have another overage option on mind. Perhaps Torrin White or one of the other options listed above.

-So basically, Everett, Kelowna, Kamloops and Kootenay are the only teams that are scratching a healthy over-age player every night, until they make a trade or re-assign a player. Everett, pretty clearly wants to get something for Lotz, but do not seem to have biters. Kootenay and Kamloops need to make up their minds about whether to trade one of their bigger names or not (i.e. Philp or Rehill). Lastly, Kelowna will probably want to make a combination of deals, unloading one of their over-age forwards for an NHL signed 19 year old, that a team, not likely to contend would not mind getting rid of for the right price.

-For Portland, I like Luke Philp or Descheneau the most, but would not mind them ending up with Quinney out of Kelowna. With all of the Bantam picks that they have traded away in recent years, though and the depth they have at the position this year, it might be smarter to just get more playing time for their younger forwards and pass up dealing for a 20 year old.

-It will be very interesting to see all the trades that will be made over the next two weeks, before these over-age slots are filled and solidified.

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