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Above the Glass

From the Dub: Cut to the Chase

2014 draft prospect Chase De Leo is one of Portland’s rising superstars and the Winterhawks' resident ladies’ man. More impressive than his particular brand of charm is his particular brand of racking up points. The Portland Winterhawks just returned from a perfect five game road trip that propelled them into first place in the U.S. Division and Western Conference. Chase earned points in all five games, two of which were multi-goal games for him. This late Bantam Draft pick has turned out to be a great pick for the Winterhawks. If recent history is any indication, he’ll also turn out to be a valuable NHL draft pick in June.

It’s not where you’re drafted; it’s what you do with it. A native of California, Chase is one of 11 American players on the Portland Winterhawks roster. He was picked 192nd overall in the ninth round of the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft, but it’s what he did a few months later that should be duly noted. He made an auspicious debut at training camp when he scored the game winning goal in a shootout to help his team capture the Neely Cup. You can see where this is going, so let’s just cut to the math:

  • Chase’s path to the WHL Bantam Draft was paved with 27 goals and 83 points in 28 games for the L.A. Selects bantam AAA team that would advance to the national championship.
  • Since joining the Portland Winterhawks two years ago, he has racked up 104 points in 155 regular season games.
  • Chase’s rookie season was solid, with 30 points in 69 games played. He impressed his teammates so much they chose him as co-Rookie of the Year along with Nic Petan.
  • He nearly doubled his point total last season, going from 30 to 56. He finished with 18 goals and 38 assists in 71 games, 13 of which were multi-point games.
  • Chase did some of his best work in the stretch run last season, registering five assists against Spokane on Feb. 18, the most by a Winterhawk in a game since Todd Robinson had five on Jan. 17, 1997. He rounded out his second regular season with his first career hat trick on Mar. 10 at Victoria.

Happy birthday! Chase picked up an assist in his 150th career WHL game on Oct. 18. Five nights later, he notched his 100th career WHL point in Medicine Hat. It was all a prelude to his 18th birthday on October 25, which he celebrated by scoring two goals and notching one assist. It also means, as his roommate Paul Bittner pointed out on Twitter, “He's legal ladies! #18.” But let’s remember that there is only one girl who holds the key to Chase’s heart; pint-sized fan extraordinaire Maddy. So good luck ladies. Get in line and may the Force be with you.

The cat’s meow.  Like all the Winterhawks, Chase is active on Twitter (@Dels9), where he recently posted my personal choice for Tweet of the week; “Meeting up with these little rug rats right meow!” along with a photo of the new kittens his billets allowed him to buy. But that doesn’t hold a candle to what he did last season, when he fearlessly posted a picture of himself in a tank top covered with photos of cats and the hashtag #judgeme.  It’s as outrageous as it sounds; I think several people who clicked on the picture may have been temporarily blinded. On the other hand, if the league ever decides to let players modify their jerseys, it could come in quite handy on the face off. 

He has good partners in crime. Chase centers a line with Columbus Blue Jackets’ prospect Oliver Bjorkstrand and team Captain and recently signed Flyers pick Taylor Leier. Together they have combined for 66 points in 15 games played. Every time they step on the ice, you just know something magic is going to happen.  

He’s honest to a fault. You can laugh all you want at warm and fuzzy kittens, but that’s also one of the things that local fans love about Chase.  He puts it all out there for us to judge, with no fear whatsoever. He’s not afraid to show us what makes him tick. Isn’t that why we love hockey? Because it’s honest, it’s emotional and players put it all on the line every night. Chase does that off the ice too; it’s his signature move. 

He never gives up on a play. We all know the cliché “play a full 60 minutes of hockey.” Chase is a player who takes that expression personally and seriously. He may not be the biggest player out there, but he’ll outwork the bigger guys any day and twice on Sunday. Many a great player has come undone in the NHL because he didn’t cultivate the work ethic needed to achieve a great professional career. There will be no such problem when Chase reaches the professional ranks. He attacks every shift like his life and that of the team depends on it, even when they are ahead by three goals, there’s one minute to go in the third and they are cruising to another victory. 

The bottom line. The things that make Chase a valuable draft pick go beyond his impressive stats. Fearlessness, work ethic and honesty are hard qualities to find in many adults, let alone newly legal teenage hockey players. The NHL team that selects Chase in June will get all this and more. Here in Portland, many of our late Bantam Draft picks have turned out to be great picks. Chase is no exception to this; in fact he’s the poster boy for it. No matter where he is chosen in the NHL Entry Draft, the team that chooses Chase De Leo will be glad they did.

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About Above the Glass

Welcome to Above the Glass, a definitive anti-expert’s guide to hockey. I started blogging in 2009 as part of an effort to learn all 87 rules in the NHL Rulebook in 107 days before the 2010 Olympics, 30 years after I discovered the sport. You can peruse the archival results here. Growing up in Arizona, I didn’t even know hockey existed until February 22, 1980, when the USA played Russia in the Olympics. And just like that, the game of the century changed my life. I still don’t quite understand the icing rule or which faceoff circle goes with what offense, but I do know that every aspect of hockey has something to teach us about life. That’s what you’ll find here, along with my unadulterated passion for the game.

I live in Portland, Oregon, home of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. I invite anyone who wants to know more about hockey in the Rose City to visit here, where I blog exclusively about the Winterhawks. I’ll post an occasional musing about the Hawks, the WHL and junior hockey here as well.

Follow me on Twitter: @AbovetheGlass

Email: samantha@kuklaskorner.com