Above the Glass
by Samantha on 07/14/13 at 10:18 PM ET
A weeklong vacation in the land of Tim Hortons, fabulous British Columbia wine and nightly doses of TSN gives a girl a lot of time to think about the upcoming hockey season, which isn't that far away here in Portland. The Portland Winterhawks open training camp on August 21, and buzz is already brewing out here about who will replace assistant coach Travis Green, who has accepted a position as the head coach of the AHL's Utica Comets. Whiling away the hours on a remote corner of Pender Island made me realize that the math from recent drafts may give us a good idea of what the 2013 - 2014 season holds for the Winterhawks.
The past several years' drafts, for example, offer excellent insights into which numbers may prove lucky for the Portland Winterhawks this season:
Four. In 2010, Ryan Johansen became the highest drafted Winterhawk in the Entry Draft, going fourth overall to the Columbus Blue Jackets. He was followed promptly by new Minnesota Wild prospect Nino Niederreiter, who was originally drafted fifth overall by the New York Islanders. Though his future with the Islanders would be short lived, Nino became the highest drafted Swiss player in the NHL's history. This year, Seth Jones surprised many experts and fans alike when he fell to four and got scooped up by the Nashville Predators. While it was surprising, ultimately I think it was a good choice for both the team and player. One reason is that he'll be in good company. Seth was the fourth Winterhawk drafted by the Predators in the past four years. In 2009, they picked Cam Reid in the seventh round, 192nd overall. In 2010, they chose Taylor Aronson 78th overall. And more recently, they did this:
89. In 2012, the Nashville Predators drafted Brendan Leipsic 89th overall, surprising many who thought he wouldn't be drafted at all. They signed Brendan in May, 2013 to a three-year entry level contract while he was competing in the Memorial Cup. He also shared the WHL scoring trophy with linemate Nic Petan. This year, the Columbus Blue Jackets again chose from the Winterhawks when they drafted Danish player Oliver Bjorkstrand 89th overall. Fun fact: Brendan signed with the team not long after his 19th birthday; May 19. As for Nic, I think he may be bumping into Brendan and the Leipsic family in the future:
43. In 2010, the Toronto Maple Leafs drafted Brad Ross 43rd overall. This year, the Winnipeg Jets chose Nic 43rd overall. Winnipeg is also Brendan's hometown, so something tells me there are a few pre-game meals Chez Leipsic in Nic's future. Fun fact: Nic's final draft ranking was 33, his original Winterhawks jersey number before he changed it to 19, a number previously worn by Ryan Johansen.
Eight. In 2012, the Pittsburgh Penguins chose defenseman Derrick Pouliot 8th overall and signed him to a three-year entry level contract last September. In 2010, eight Winterhawks were taken in the Entry Draft.
13. This was goalie Brendan Burke’s final draft ranking among North American goalies. He followed his father Sean Burke into the NHL and lived every player’s dream when he was drafted in the sixth round by the Phoenix Coyotes, his hometown team. Sven Bartschi was drafted 13th overall by the Calgary Flames in the 2011 Entry Draft. Portland Winterhawk Keegan Iverson wears number 13 on his jersey to honor his best friend back home, Jack Jablonski.
27. It's a new Winterhawks tradition that a Euro player whose last name starts with B wear this number on his jersey. Oliver is currently wearing 27, which was previously worn by Calgary Flames sensation Bartschi.
192 plus 9 equals Chase De Leo. Late picks were great picks in the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft, when the Winterhawks picked Chase in the 9th round, 192nd overall. He now wears the number nine on his jersey.
117. In 2012, Taylor Leier was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the fourth round at his mid-term draft ranking of 117. He found out while he was celebrating a gold medal win with Team Canada at the Ball Hockey World Championships. What does it have to do with the future? 117 is the total number of points the Winterhawks amassed during the 2012- 2013 regular season en route to a championship season. That point total was a franshise record.
What does it all mean? Today's numbers tell us everything about the future. Using the magic math of recent NHL drafts, I'm putting my money on four Winterhawks being drafted next year, enforcer Joe Mahon racking up 192 penalty minutes and the team racking up 89 total points in the regular season. If his draft year is anything like Nic's, I'd also bet on Chase being picked somewhere between the second and fourth rounds of the 2014 Entry Draft, specifically at 43rd or 117th. Whatever the 2013 - 2014 season adds up to, the greatest joy of being a hockey fan in Portland is that the best is yet to come. If you happen to be passing through the Pacific Northwest in mid-August and want to see what all the fuss is about, stop by the Winterhawks Skating Center. You'll be glad you 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