Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hawks Players, Staff Receive Accolades

The Winterhawks got some accolades for their performance this season with some recognition from the WHL's postseason award nominations and all-star selections.

Ryan Johansen was selected to the Western Conference's first team all-stars. Johansen, from Port Moody, BC finished his second season in the WHL with 92 points. Johansen's 92 points led the Winterhawks in scoring, and was 7th in the league despite playing only 63 games. Johansen, the Columbus Blue Jackets' fourth overall NHL draft selection in 2010, averaged 1.5 points per game in the WHL this season. As arguably Team Canada's second best forward at the World Junior Championships, Johansen drew the attention of the hockey world this season, and helped explain why his draft stock went through the roof in the second half of last year. Part of that was because his play elevated last season in the playoffs. If Johansen's numbers jump similarly in this postseason, he may lead this Winterhawks team deep into the postseason this year.

Johansen won't have to do it alone, as he'll be joined by the Western Conference's rookie of the year Sven Bartschi. Bartschi, the 18 year old freshman from Switzerland, led the WHL in Goals, Assists, and Points. Teaming up with fellow 2011 NHL draft prospect Ty Rattie, Bartschi led the team in goals for the majority of the season. Bartschi, like teammate Nino Niederreiter, represented his team at the World Junior Championships, and helped them remain in the A pool for another season. Rattie and Bartschi combined for two outstanding seasons in their draft year, and in fact both put up better numbers offensively than Johansen and Niederreiter did last season in their draft years. With Bartschi's work ethic, speed, and shooting ability, some NHL team will be rewarded with undoubtedly an impact NHL player this summer at the draft in Minnesota.

Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks' Head Coach and General Manager, was named the Western Conference's Executive of the Year. Johnston has been in charge of the team since the fall of 2009, and in his brief 2 and a half years has returned the Winterhawks franchise back to their former glory. Johnston has proven that he's a quality recruiter in his time in the WHL, bringing impact players to Portland. He's also shown he's not gun shy in the trade market either, acquiring impact players Luca Sbisa last year and Craig Cunningham this year. With the former NHL assistant coach and known as one of the smartest men in the business at the helm, the Winterhawks fans can be assured that this team will continue to thrive for years to come.

One final note: The pipeline show blog has done a profile about which WHL defenseman should go first in the upcoming NHL draft. A compilation of scout opinions are there, and many have good things to say about Hawk defenseman Joe Morrow. To read the blog, go here:

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