The Portland Winterhawks finished the season with 15 draft-eligible players on their roster. Let’s have a quick chat about every single one of them.
Ten forwards, four defensemen, and one goaltender are eligible for selection in this summer’s draft.
Luke Schelter (2004)
In his first full season with the Portland Winterhawks, forward Luke Schelter contributed 26 points in 62 games, and another three points in 10 postseason games. He’s been a consistent face for the Winterhawks throughout the year but has not been the most noticeable on the ice. That doesn’t mean that he wouldn’t be a quality addition for some team in a couple of years, but his name would be one of the more surprising to come up this summer. This is the first draft where Schelter is eligible for selection, and the 6-foot-3, 194-pound winger has size and sometimes that goes a long way.
Kyle Chyzowski (2004)
Chyzowski is one of those players that you could call a pest. Listed at 5-foot-10 and 157-pounds, he is not the biggest guy on the ice, but he still manages to make his presence felt. While he is still learning to make his impact consistently positive for his team, he possesses an accurate shot and a net front presence that you love to see. It often seems like he doesn’t stop moving, and while sometimes that causes his decision-making to be questionable, he’s fun to watch and is poised to take a big step forward in his game next season. With 13 goals and 22 assists for the Winterhawks this season, Chyzowski has room for improvement on the scoresheet, but he could be a surprise pick in this summer’s draft. The 17-year-old was one of just six Winterhawks to play in all 68 regular-season games this year, going on to also participate in all 11 playoff games the team saw, picking up five assists in the postseason.
Jonah Bevington (2003)
During the 2021-22 season, Bevington was one of the quieter guys on the roster, but he’s been finding his consistency throughout the year. Listed by the Winterhawks as 6-foot-2 and 174-pounds, Bevington has shown time and time again that he’s willing to get into the corners and do some of the deeper work for his team. While he isn’t the one always finding the back of the net, when he’s on the ice, he works to make things happen. If he hears his name called this summer, it will likely be in the later rounds of the draft.
Marcus Nguyen (2004)
Nguyen came into this season looking like a different player. He played a much more physical game, despite often being one of the smaller guys on the ice, and stepped up to take over a large role on the scoresheet. The area in front of the opposing goaltender’s net became his office, and he was scoring in spades. Not only was he scoring goals, but Nguyen was helping his linemates (Aidan Litke and Jack O’Brien) also find the back of the net more consistently. The 5-foot-10 winger developed into the type of player that Portland has become known for. He is small, fast, and smart with the puck while being that player that you want to watch every night. (Watch this)
Gabe Klassen (2003)
In his three seasons with the Portland Winterhawks, Gabe Klassen has grown into one of the most effective players on the roster. His 33 goals and 31 assists in 68 games put him just under a point-per-game, but he didn’t need those other four to impress this year. Klassen came into the season with better decision-making skills and more confidence, and it showed. The 5-foot-10, 176-pound former first-round pick in the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft has plenty to offer an NHL team who is looking for a prospect to grow in their system.
James Stefan (2003)
The only Winterhawks forward to be listed on NHL Central Scoutings final draft rankings, Stefan sits at 157. He was one of the six Winterhawks to appear in all 68 regular-season games, picking up 34 goals and 45 assists along the way. One of the most underrated draft-eligible players to come out of this season, Stefan showed up ready to go from the first puck drop of the season. He and Detroit Red Wings prospect Cross Hanas combined for one of the most talked-about goals of the season on December 18th. Though his skating is not the strongest, Stefan makes smart plays and passes the puck well. It wouldn’t be surprising to see an NHL team grab the 5-foot-11 and 181-pound forward with a mid-round pick.
Jack O’Brien (2003)
Having played with Stefan for a while before they became Winterhawks, Jack O’Brien is a responsible player who thinks the game at a high level. The 6-foot tall and 169-pound forward was expected to go in last year’s draft but found himself available this year. His 15 goals and 32 assists in 68 regular-season games this year may not attract your eye at first, but watching him play, you find that he moves the puck well and knows how to use his frame to his advantage.
Robbie Fromm-Delorme (2002)
No current Winterhawks forward has had as much of a rollercoaster time in Portland as Robbie Fromm-Delorme. It’s his third and final draft-eligible year, and while it’s most likely he is invited to a camp or signed as a free agent, RFD could still find his name called this summer. Fromm-Delorme missed just around three months of the season split between two stretches that saw him miss all of November and January. However, when he returned in mid-February, the winger looked to come back with a fire to his game. With 34 points (15G-19A) in 38 games, Fromm-Delorme seemed to have found his stride once again. He carried on into the playoffs, picking up another seven points in 11 games. Even if he isn’t called in the draft, don’t be surprised if you hear his name (or his initials) thrown around in some conversations heading into what will be his overage season this fall.
Aidan Litke (2003)
From the Neely Cup, it seemed like there was a maturity in Litke’s game that wasn’t evident during his ten games in the Rose City during the shortened 2021 season. While to some extent, that was to be expected, the growth in his game was noticeable enough to draw some eyes during the 2021-22 season. with 17 goals and 13 assists in 63 games, Litke didn’t make the largest impact on the scoresheet for the Winterhawks, but he did make his points count. Three of Litke’s goals came on the power play, and four stood as game-winners. On a team of fewer standout performers, Litke would likely draw much more attention, but he’s proven he can keep up with the best. Listed at 6-feet tall, Litke has size and he’s shown that he knows how to use it effectively. The winger has been a consistent presence for the Winterhawks and could develop into a late-round steal for some NHL team.
Dawson Pasternak (2003)
Missing over half of the season with an injury certainly didn’t help Pasternak’s draft stock, but it may just mean he can be a major steal for a team later in the draft. Five goals and nine assists in his first 39 games in the WHL were not a bad start for the now 19-year-old forward. (Watch this) Unfortunately, a facial injury set him back a bit in early December, and a lower-body injury took him out for the rest of the season at the end of January. However, Pasternak had spent the previous two seasons with the Chicago Steel in the USHL and had looked poised to make even more of an impact in Portland as the season went on. He should be back and ready to go for next season. It is possible that a team picks him up in this summer’s draft, and Dawson Pasternak will have the opportunity to prove himself capable in whatever system he ends up with. Listed at 5-foot-9, 153-pounds, Pasternak is not the biggest guy on the ice, but he plays as though he is. The 2003-born forward has no problem playing a physical game, and is one of those players that you love to have on your team but hate when your team has to face. While with the Chicago Steel in the USHL, his coach (Brock Sheehan) has called him a “Brad Marchand-type player”, and a team might very well be looking for that kind of guy this summer.
Josh Mori (2004)
Mori hasn’t been talked about enough throughout the season, and if you forgot, yes, Josh Mori is a defenseman. He’s been willing to step up in whatever way the Winterhawks have needed him throughout the season, and that has often involved playing as a forward. What is fun is that he has not looked out of place as a forward, however, it may leave some questions in his development at the blue line. That being said, every time he has been able to get a game in on the back end, he has looked better and better. An NHL team who is willing to bet on Mori late in the draft will likely be rewarded for what he brings to the table in a couple of years. The 5-foot-11 skater saw just 36 games this season, picking up two goals and six assists while being bounced between positions.
Ryder Thompson (2004)
Ryder Thompson missing from NHL Central Scoutings Rankings of North American Skaters is surprising, but not the end of the world. The defenseman may not be the flashiest or the most offensively minded, but his offense has been improving throughout his time in the WHL and his defensive play has a bit of everything you want. Does he have some development still to focus on? Sure. Will a few teams be sad they missed out on picking up Thompson this summer? Absolutely. If the NHL scouts have been paying attention, Thompson would ideally go somewhere in the late-mid rounds. Though he had just one goal and 17 assists through 58 games with the Winterhawks in 2021-22, don’t let that fool you. The Winterhawks blueliner has plenty to offer. (Watch this) For those who want a defensively focused defenseman, Ryder Thompson may just be the option for you.
Marek Alscher (2004)
Marek Alscher has been found on NHL Central Scouting’s lists all season, and deservedly so, finding himself at 177 in the final rankings. The 6-foot-3, 198-pound defenseman had no problem transitioning to the North American rinks and turned heads from his first game in Portland. His seven goals and nine assists in 61 games make some sense, as he describes himself as more of a defensive defenseman. He has the size to intimidate opponents and knows how to use his height to his advantage. He skates well and has shown he can be trusted in just about any situation. With the 2021-22 season being his first full year in North America, he should look even better next year, and it will be no surprise when his name is called in July.
Kurtis Smythe (2002)
In his final year of draft eligibility, Smythe could be a surprise pick for a team late in the draft. It’s more likely he sees an invitation to a camp as a free agent, but he’s performed well enough to get a chance somewhere. Another defense-first blueliner, the 6-foot tall Smythe could bring consistency to a team looking to add to their defensive strength.
Dante Giannuzzi (2002)
While the Winterhawks got off to a rough start this season, Giannuzzi kept the team in games multiple times. When the team turned things around in mid-November, the netminder had a lot to do with it.
Starting the season with a 3-6-1-1 record, it wasn’t the best start for Giannuzzi or the team
However, starting with the game on November 19th, at home against Kelowna, Giannuzzi would finish his remaining games of the season with a 16-3-1-1 record.
From December 5th to March 5th, he would go 14-2-0-1. (From January 8th to March 8th, Taylor Gauthier would see 16 games for the Winterhawks and go 14-2-0-0)
If a team is looking for a late-round goaltender who just needs a chance, Giannuzzi could be their guy.
Lizz’s Completely Biased Draft Thoughts
(Let’s be honest, this entire thing has been my completely biased thoughts…)
You know this had to be my first thought, but for the love of my sanity, somebody draft Dante Giannuzzi. I don’t care if it’s in the seventh round. I don’t care who it is. Somebody do it. Can he be invited to camp and signed as a free agent? Sure. However, don’t let it get to that point.
Kyle Chyzowski is my “surprise pick” this summer. I think a late pick could be used on him and a team could feel good about the selection.
Ryder Thompson deserved so much more attention this season, it’s honestly upsetting that so many of the draft rankings left him off, after they seemed so high on him early in the year. I’d like to see him go in the fourth or fifth round, but at this point, he’d probably go later if a team moves on him.
I also think that somebody should pick up Dawson Pasternak. Don’t let him get out of this summer undrafted. I’ve been raving about Pasternak since the Neely Cup in September and have looked forward to him joining the Portland roster since he was drafted to the WHL in 2018.
Jack O’Brien and James Stefan being passed over last summer was upsetting, but both have done a great job of drawing eyes and conversation throughout the year.
With Robbie Fromm-Delorme turning things on this season, I think he has a chance of a team calling him. Perhaps not in the draft, but sometime before NHL camps begin. (Is it weird that I want to say it’ll be Detroit? No basis for this, just my own feeling.)
Oh, also… Please someone pick Dante Giannuzzi. That is all.