Winterhawks Short on Future Draft Picks
The Spokane Chiefs have receded to the bottom of the division standings, and Portland is advancing to the top. But by securing that present, the organization might have fewer opportunities to replenish the roster in the future.
As most Portland fans know, the Hawks have had to forfeit their first round picks for the last two years, and must continue to do so through the 2017 Bantam Draft. There’s precious little for them to acquire right off the bat each year. Couple that with the large amount of talent leaving the team after this season, and the sterling offense that has kept the team afloat during the defensive woes back in the fall might flounder.
Without Nic Petan, Oliver Bjorkstrand, and Chase De Leo leading the charge the responsibility of shots on goal will be with our newer forwards. Unfortunately, Ethan Price and Tyson Predinchuck have both left the team, thinning the ranks even further.
There was some hope when Brendan Burke was traded to Calgary in exchange for a rookie goalie and a fourth round pick in 2016, but that draft pick was further swapped for Mitchell Walter. The 18-year-old forward is a welcome addition to the lineup, as he’s experienced (as part of Edmonton’s 2014 Memorial Cup winning team), but still hungry. At the same time, though, he will be turning 20 by the time that 2016 Bantam Draft rolls around next May. Coach Kompon will be missing out on the chance to replace him.
A similar Sophie’s choice waits in the form of Adam Henry, the seasoned defenseman acquired from Saskatoon. Nothing needed augmenting on the Winterhawks roster more than the defense, and Henry has already proved his worth by injecting his patience and physical presence to the team. Still, Portland gave up their second round pick for 2017 for him, and Henry will age out at the end of this year.
When framed this way, these GM decisions made by Kompon look suspiciously like someone making beds in a burning building, but that’s not to say the team’s turnaround hasn’t been apparent. I just fear that Coach is too focused on keeping the job with this season’s results that he’s setting himself up for failure come 2017 or so.
But rather than gravitate toward the uncertain state of the future lineup, we can outline the certainties: Evan Johnson’s kinetic work in goal should be a highlight, and he will most likely be starting for the Hawks if Adin Hill’s star rises to the NHL by then. And the offensive lines are not without some promise from the likes of Skylar Mckenzie and Alex Overhardt.
It might help if Kompon can get some minutes for these younger and newer players against some tune-up teams in the coming weeks. With several games against the Tri-City Americans and Seattle Thunderbirds scheduled in the immediate future, it stands to reason that next year’s team-building should begin now, before it’s too late.