Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Portland Signs Jake Gricius and Lane Gilliss

Portland made their first non-import signings of the Mike Johnston 2.0 era official today, when they announced that they had signed 1999 born forwards Jake Gricius and Lane Gilliss. These signings add two more forwards to this age group giving them five total now. Ryan Hughes, Cody Glass and Bronson Sharp are the others. Gilliss has been on the protected list for some time now, but Gricius was not on the protected list the last time I checked (about a month ago) and so his signing is a little out of the blue. In fact Tri-City Americans' general manager Bob Tory tweeted last July that Gricius was on their protected list. He would have to have been dropped from their list at some point, in order to be picked up by Portland.

What made his signing even more unexpected, is the fact that he had signed with the BCHL's Wenatchee Wild in late April of this year. It seems clear that Johnston and Co. were able to add and then quickly sign the left-handed forward. There is a lot unknown, as far as, what agreements, if any, were made between the two teams, so we will have to wait and see if this is a case where Johnston recruited a talented prospect away from Bliss Littler and the Wild, but it certainly appears so.

Gricius is out of Colorado Springs, Colorado and after playing a handful of games in the NAPHL with Pikes Peak during the 2013/14 season, he moved up to the Colorado Thunderbirds (T1EHL U16) program for the 2014/15 season. Gricius was 10th on the team in scoring with 11 points in 23 games. This team was loaded with talent as Medicine Hat Tigers' forward Max Gerlach and Kelowna Rockets' defenseman Callan Foote were a couple of the older players on that particular team. Then last season, as one of the older players with Colorado, Gricius was seventh on the team in scoring with 22 points in 28 games. It should be noted that Dominic Turgeon and Seattle's Scott Eansor are both products of the CO T-birds' system. Jake was impressive enough last year, that he suited up to play with the United States' U-17 team at last December's Four Nations Tournament in Slovakia. The U.S. took third in the tourney and Gricius finished with one point (an assist). Also on that U.S. squad were Winterhawks' prospects Brannon McManus and Scott Reedy.

After Gricius had signed with Wenatchee, Wild associate head coach Tom Rudrud said: "Jake’s a strong skating center iceman who will make plays. At 6’3 and 180lbs, Jake also brings ... size..." Wild General manager and head coach Bliss Littler also stated that: "“After watching Jake play in the National tournament I can see why our staff has been so excited about this young man all season." 

Gricius is a late birthday (10/13/1999), so he is not eligible for the NHL draft until 2018.
In the video below, Gricius looks to be a good passer off the left wing, especially when carrying the puck deep into the opponent's zone. He also has the look of a player with a good frame, who will be immovable in front of the net, once he puts on a little more weight on his frame.

Gilliss is out of Calgary, Alberta and is a product of the Edge School. He played Bantam Prep in 2013/14 with Edge and was a point-a-game player with 58 points in 58 games. Gilliss was fourth on the team in scoring, well behind leading scorer and current Spokane Chief center Jaret Anderson-Dolan, who had 126 points with Edge that year. Gilliss also won the Alberta Cup that season with the Calgary North Stars, scoring one goal in five games. In 2014/15 with Edge's Elite 15s, he had 32 points in 28 game, which led the team.

Last year Gilliss, instead of moving up to the CSSHL with Edge, he went to the BCHL and played for the West Kelowna Warriors. He had five points in 41 games and helped the Warriors win the BCHL, beating first round 2016 NHL draft picks Tyson Jost and Dante Fabbro and the Penticton Vees on the way. Gilliss even got into five of their 24 playoff games, as a 16-year-old, during the Warriors' title run. With some of their leading scorers moving on to colleges, Gilliss passed over a chance to get more playing time with the defending champions, in order to come and play with Portland.

Gilliss is also a late birthday (10/1/1999) and is not eligible to be drafted until 2018 as well. He is listed at 6'1" and 176 lbs and so gives Portland another incoming 17-year-old with some size.

Gilliss was also the Warriors' winner of the All-Academic Award this year.

-All stats were acquired via eliteprospects.com

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