Hawks Select Swiss Forward

It’s deja vu all over again…

Just like last June, the Portland Winterhawks have reached out to Switzerland for their first round selection in the 2010 CHL Import Draft.  The Hawks selected 1992 born forward Sven Bärtschi, a 5’10 170 lb. left wing, from Langenthal, Switzerland.

He is a late 1992 birthdate, being born on 10/15/92, so he was not eligible for the 2010 NHL Draft despite being just more than a month younger than his countryman Nino Niederreiter.

Bärtschi and Niederreiter were teammates on the Swiss U18 National team in Fargo, ND, in 2009.  In 2010, he again played on the Swiss U18 team in Belarus, and finished both tournaments with 1-2-3 in 6 games.

He played almost a full season with SC Langenthal in the Swiss National League (the highest league in Switzerland in 2010).

Here are some statistics (thanks to http://www.eliteprospects.com):

2006-2007 Langenthal U18 Novizen Top 13 15 23 38 16 |
2007-2008 Langenthal U18 Novizen Top 17 16 22 38 22 |
Langenthal U20 Elite Jr. A 7 1 1 2 0 |
2008-2009 Langenthal U20 Elite Jr. A 37 21 32 53 |
Langenthal NLB 1 0 0 0 0 |
Switzerland U18 WJC-18 6 1 2 3 2 |
2009-2010 Langenthal NLB 37 6 5 11 10 | Playoffs 7 0 3 3 4
Zug U20 Elite Jr. A 9 10 13 23 4 |
Switzerland U18 WJC-18 6 1 2 3 2 |

Three NHL Invites Follow Draft…

Congratulations to Tayler Jordan, Oliver Gabriel and Taylor Peters!  Although they did not hear (or see) their name called over the weekend, all three have received NHL camp invites.

Jordan will attend the Vancouver Canucks camp, Gabriel will attend the Columbus Blue Jackets camp and Peters will attend the Pittsburgh Penguins camp.  More details here.

With all of the drafted players, the Hawks will have 13 players attend camp this fall, quite the accomplishment.

We’ll see if that number increases after the CHL Import Draft tomorrow…

Hawks Pre-Season Schedule & Openers…

The WHL released the pre-season schedules for the 2010-11 season as well as each teams home opener, here is how it breaks down for Portland:

Everett Tournament:

Friday 9/3 – 11:00 vs. Seattle

Saturday 9/4 – 3:00 vs. Sault Ste. Marie (OHL team)

Sunday 9/5 – 11:30 vs. Spokane

Tri City Tournament:

Friday 9/10 – 11:00 vs. Everett

Saturday 9/11 – 11:00 vs. Kootenay

Other:

Saturday 9/18 – 7:05 @ Seattle

So, no home pre-season games this year for Portland.

Regular Season Road Opener:

Saturday 9/25 – 7:05 @ Seattle

Regular Season Home Opener:

Saturday 10/2 – 7:00 vs. Seattle

Other tentative dates as of now:

Sunday 10/3 – vs. Lethbridge

Friday 11/5 – vs. Red Deer

Tuesday 11/9 – @ Swift Current

Wednesday 11/10 – @ Regina

Friday 11/12 – @ Saskatoon

Saturday 11/13 – @ Prince Albert

Tuesday 11/16 –  @ Brandon

Wednesday 11/17 – @ Moose Jaw

Friday 11/26 – vs. Medicine Hat

Wednesday 12/1 – vs. Kootenay

Don’t forget the CHL Import Draft is tomorrow with Portland picking 7th overall…or sometime around 7:30 AM local time.

The Great Eight…

Well, the 2010 NHL Entry Draft has come and gone, but it certainly won’t be soon forgotten by the Portland Winterhawks organization or their faithful followers as eight of the Hawks players were selected in the draft that featured 210 players being selected.   Here is a breakdown of the eight picks and some thoughts on each:

1 – Ryan Johansen, 4th overall, 1st Round – Columbus Blue Jackets: I touched on the meteoric rise of Johansen yesterday, but it is still incredible to think about a day later just how far he has come in such a short time.  He described himself as having “baby moose legs” in bantams and midgets due to being tall and skinny.  He is starting to fill out his frame and when he’s done, he will have the prototypical big center frame that NHL teams covet and he has the skills to be a dominant player at the next level.  I can’t wait to see what he does as an 18 year old in the WHL in 2010-11.  The first ever Hawk selected by the Blue Jackets.

2 – Nino Niederreiter, 5th overall, 1st Round – New York Islanders: When the Hawks moved up to select Nino in the CHL Import Draft a year ago, there were high hopes that the Swiss born player would add some offense to the Hawks line-up.  Mission accomplished.  Nino showed early on that he had the will and skill to be a force night in and night out in the WHL and then backed that up on the big stage in Saskatoon at the World Juniors.  I hope that I get to see what he can as an 18 year old in the WHL 2010-11 as he has the strength and size to be in the NHL next year, but I think (somewhat selfishly) that he could use another year of development prior to making the big  jump.  The second Hawk selected by the Islanders, the previous being Jeff Finley in the 3rd Round of 1985.

3 – Brad Ross, 43rd overall, 2nd Round – Toronto Maple Leafs: The other guy on perhaps the best draft eligible line in the history of the CHL, Ross had to wait 13 picks into the second round before Brian Burke and the Leafs traded up to select him.   If there was a player that fits the Burke style, it is Ross.  He will be a fan favorite in Toronto for his agitating style and will try to live up to what Tie Domi and Darcy Tucker did for years wearing the Leaf sweater.  This is the first Hawk selected by Toronto since they took Gary Nylund, #3 overall, in 1982.

4 – Taylor Aronson, 78th overall, 3rd Round – Nashville Predators: Aronson follows in a great line of former WHL defensemen to be selected by the Preds and maybe surprised some folks by slipping ahead of Troy Rutkowski in the draft order.   Aronson really started to get noticed in the second half of the 2009-10 season and in the playoffs as well before getting injured.   He will most likely miss the start of the season as he recovers from shoulder surgery, but he should be a mainstay guy next year for Portland.   Aronson is the first Hawk to be selected by Nashville, so I guess Brent Peterson was due to get a Hawk in the draft.

5 – Troy Rutkowski, 137th overall, 5th Round – Colorado Avalanche: Troy had a great start to the 2009-10 season and a great finish as well, but a bit of a slump in the middle of the season probably led to him dropping a bit further down in the draft order and I believe the Avs got a steal on picking Rutkowski at this spot.   Rutkowski can be a dominant puck moving defenseman and he is another player that has really developed since getting passed over in the WHL Bantam Draft.  Troy is the first Hawk to be taken by Colorado since they moved to the Mile High City from Quebec.  Prior to the move, Adam Deadmarsh was the last Hawk taken by the Avalanche franchise, going 14th overall in the first round of 1993.

6 – Luke Walker, 139th overall, 5th Round – Colorado Avalanche: The feel-good story of the draft for Portland IMO.  A guy in his last year of draft eligibility, having worked his way into a national team spot for Team USA at the World Juniors, getting selected is just great for Walker.  He has shown to be a very good two-way player for Portland and from what I understand, he has been working very hard since the end of the season to get that much better for 2010-11.  Walker could now sign and move to the pro ranks with Colorado or the Avs could decide to have Walker play his overage season in Portland.  We may not know that until October.

7 – Mac Carruth, 191st overall, 7th Round – Chicago Blackhawks: How many battles did Mac Carruth have with Kyle Beach during the past season?  Well, they are now going to be teammates at the Blackhawks training camp in the fall.  Isn’t that what makes sports great?  Chicago doesn’t have a lot of depth in goal on their extended roster and getting Carruth late in the draft will help add to that depth.  Carruth showed tremendous growth after joining Portland early last season and he is a guy that battles for everything, especially protecting the blue paint around the net.  Carruth is the 11th Winterhawk to be selected by Chicago, but the first since Jerad Smith went in the 7th round of 1997.

8 – Riley Boychuk, 208th overall, 7th Round – Buffalo Sabres: Hmmm…the Sabres had pretty good luck taking another big Portland forward in 7th Round back in 2000 when they used the 220th pick on Paul Gaustad.  Riley Boychuk fits the same mold as Gaustad…big, strong and Boychuk, IMO, has better hands at his age than Gaustad did when he was drafted.  I would imagine that Gaustad and Boychuk will work very closely together as Paul knows what it takes to get to the next level.  Boychuk is the seventh Hawk to be taken by Buffalo with Michael Funk being the last, taken in the second round of 2004.

There you have it…eight picks…that ties the Hawks all-time record for players selected in a single draft, matching 1978 and 1980.

Congratulations to all…and it is a great day to be a Hawk!

Hawks Get Two in Top 5…

It was a great night for the Portland Winterhawks organization when they had two players selected in the first five picks of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

Ryan Johansen, the stunning riser of the draft, was the first WHL player selected when the Columbus Blue Jackets made him the fourth overall selection.  To say Johansen’s rise to glory has been rapid is a massive understatement.

When Johansen came to training camp at the start of the season, we saw the signs that Johansen would be a top six forward for the Hawks and that he could produce at this level.  But, I don’t think anyone expected this, including Johansen.

Not to be outdone…his linemate and teammate, Nino Niederreiter was selected by the New York Islanders with the next selection at number five. 

Most Hawk faithful thought that the two players would go high in the draft, but both in the Top 5 is out of this world incredible, not only for the players but for the entire organization.

Nino’s rise to stardom is almost as rapid as Johansen’s but he made his biggest strides at the World Junior Championships with the Swiss National Team.  The rest of the world figured out then what we in Portland already knew, he is a special player.

The Hawks could have a few more players selected fairly early tomorrow with Brad Ross, Troy Rutkowski and Taylor Aronson all expected to be taken before the end of the third round.

I will post some more in depth thoughts on the draft on Sunday…but for tonight, on a personal note, I wanted to say how proud I am of both Ryan and Nino.  Both players are not only great players, but incredible people off the ice and in the locker room.  I have been blessed to get to know them as people and I know they will succeed at the next level…just hopefully not too soon!

Congratulations to both players and good luck to those still waiting to hear their name called tomorrow…

Draft Primer…

We are just days away now from what is the most highly anticipated NHL Entry Draft in Portland for quite some time.

The Winterhawks, who have had only three first round selections in the past 10 years (Marcel Hossa #16 in 2000, Jakub Klepis #16 in 2002 and Braydon Coburn #8 in 2003) may very well have two players selected in the top 10 on Friday night and maybe as many as six to eight players total selected on the weekend.

Here are some numbers to chew on heading into Friday’s first round:

— Since the Hawks moved to Portland, they have had a total of 107 players selected in the NHL Entry Draft.  Since 1969, the Hawks franchise (including players selected from the Edmonton Oil Kings prior to the relocation to Portland) have had 135 players selected.  That is the most of any WHL franchise.  Next up would be Regina with 112, Saskatoon with 111 and Kamloops with 108.

— Ryan Johansen and Nino Niederreiter are both predicted to be Top 10 selections this year.  Portland has had two players taken in the Top 10 twice in their history — Perry Turnbull (#2 to St. Louis) and Keith Brown (#7 to Chicago) in 1979 and Glen Wesley (#3 to Boston) and Dave Archibald (#6 to Minnesota) in 1987.

— Of the 107 selections for Portland, 43 (40.2%) have come in the first two rounds with 21 being first round selections.

— In the 33 year history of the team, only twice have the Hawks not had a player selected (2001 & 2008).

— The NHL team that has selected the most Hawks?  The Stanley Cup champs – the Chicago Blackhawks with 10 selections (the last coming when the Blackhawks selected Jared Smith in the 7th round, #174 overall, in 1997.   Smith was selected 34 spots ahead of Andrew Ference, who went in the 8th round, #208 overall, to Pittsburgh.)

— Which Hawk waited the longest to hear his name called?  Scott Nichol…who went in the 11th round, #272 overall, to the Buffalo Sabres way back in 1993.  Nichol played last year in San Jose. (Although James DeMone was taken with the #283 pick in 2000, that was in the 9th round after expansion increased the number of teams.)

— The Hawks have had eight players selected in a single draft twice in their history — 1978 (Wayne Babych, Brent Peterson and Larry Playfair in the 1st round, Paul Mulvey, Doug Lecuyer and Dale Yakiwchuk in the 2nd round, Dave Ross in the 7th and Jerry Price, the father of Carey Price, in the 8th) and 1980 (David Babych in the 1st round, Brian “Bunny” Shaw in the 4th, Ed Cooper, Glen Ostir and Darrell May, Sr. in the 5th, Randy Turnbull and John Multan in the 6th and Rob Geale in the 8th).

— The first Hawk to have his name called?  D-man Jeff Bandura with the 22nd pick in the 2nd round by Vancouver in 1977.

— The only NHL teams that have not selected a Hawk — Columbus Blue Jackets, Los Angeles Kings and the Nashville Predators.

There you go…hope to see a lot of you at the draft party at Buffalo Wild Wings downtown on Friday afternoon…should be a good time!

Thursday Update…

The NHL Entry Draft is just over a week away and the anticipation is growing for just what will happen with the Winterhawks draft eligible players.  Here are a few links:

Mike Remmerde, a local scout for Red Line Report, is looking at WHL prospects – including Taylor Aronson, Ryan Johansen, Nino Niederreiter, Troy Rutkowski and Brad Ross – at his blogsite available here.

Johansen did a phone interview with Dean Millard and Guy Flaming from the The Pipeline Show on Edmonton radio on Tuesday and it is available here.   Thanks to Dean and Guy for throwing some audio on there and appreciating the goal call…and I’ll admit that my partner, Todd Vrooman, came up with the “Don’t Mess With the Johan” call…I just stole it and used it first.

In addition, when you get a chance go to the Hawks website and check out the two interviews that Mike Johnston provided regarding the prospect camp held earlier this month and the upcoming off-season, including the NHL Draft and CHL Import Draft.

While this off-season has been quieter than last year when it seemed there was news every week, the wheels are definitely turning in the Hawks office to make the 2010-11 season even more successful than 2009-10.

In yet another link…Jon Keen, the voice of the Swift Current Broncos, had an interview with former Hawk Brayden Coburn following the Stanley Cup Final.  Coburn, from Shaunavon, SK, didn’t win the Cup with Philadelphia but the experience will only make him a better player.

You can link to the audio here.

That’s it for now…

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