Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Rodrigo Abols Drafted by the Vancouver Canucks

The Portland Winterhawks now have a eight-year streak of having a player drafted in the NHL draft as the Vancouver Canucks selected Latvian-born center Rodrigo Abols in the seventh round, with the 184th overall selection Saturday. Vancouver invited him last summer to their development camp and apparently liked his potential enough that they selected the 6'5" 188 lb forward with their last pick.

The seventh round is where teams generally take fliers on players that they think could develop into something and Abols certainly fits this category. He showed flashes of being an elite passer, especially on the rush and simply has incredible hands. He really struggled though, especially in the playoffs, with scoring when given great chances and appeared to shy away from physical play, despite his size.

In total, Abols had 49 points in 60 games, but still, in this writer's opinion did not take full advantage of the obvious talent that he had. The team needed him to take a bigger role, with the loss of Dominic Turgeon and Paul Bittner to injuries but he was largely invisible in the Hawks' first round exit.

So, since Vancouver drafted him they can either sign him to a professional deal, or they can send him back to the WHL and hope that former Canucks' assistant coach, Mike Johnston is able to develop him better than Jamie Kompon was able to last season. Also a possibility for Abols is a professional deal elsewhere, with the caveat that Vancouver maintain his NHL rights. Because Abols is an incoming overage player, Portland can (and did) draft two import players and wait to see what happens with Abols before having to make a decision between the three. If both Winterhawk import picks report and Abols is sent back to Portland, it certainly appears that Portland will be able to trade him and get at least something out of it. To be fair, there will not be a ton of teams clamoring for a "two-spotter" (import and overage player), but Portland will cross that bridge when they get there, so to say.

Historically, Abols is the 10th Winterhawk to be drafted by Vancouver, which is second, overall, for most Hawks drafted to Chicago, who has taken 11. The L.A. Kings remain the one, current NHL team, to never have drafted a Winterhawks' player.

Two players that are on Portland's protected list were also taken in last weekend's draft. Kieffer Bellows was drafted in the first round, 19th overall, by the New York Islanders. Bellows is committed to Boston University, starting this coming season. Also selected was forward Mitchell Mattson, by the Calgary Flames in the 5th round (126th overall). Mattson is committed to play for the University of North Dakota, starting this coming season.

Ranked by NHL Central Scouting and not selected in the draft were Winterhawks' D-man Brendan De Jong (188th among NA skaters) and protected list D-man Sam Rossini (195th).

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