This week has been a busy one for the Hawks. This week saw the return of the Holy Grail, also known as the Stanley Cup, to Portland. Last time it was Tommy McVie, who was with the Boston Bruins who was the lucky recipient. McVie also had ties in with Portland as a member of the Portland Buckaroos hockey team.
This time it was Josh Dye, a former Portland Winterhawks scout. Dye was with the Tampa Bay Lightning as they captured the Cup with a 4-1 series win over Montreal. Fans turned out at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum to see the Cup, take pictures with it, and celebrate the win. Josh also appeared as well in the celebration. Vice President, General Manager, and Coach Mike Johnston spoke a little before letting fans in and served as photographer. People had cameras and phones at the ready during this 90-minute celebration. Also on hand was former Assistant Coach Kyle Gustafson, who is about ready to take on his duties in Vancouver with the NHL Canucks.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Brian Pellerin was the assistant coach of the Portland Winterhawks from 2004-2008 before heading to several other stops, including Tri-City, where he was the WHL Assistant Coach there from 2014-20. Pellerin played four seasons with the Prince Albert Raiders from 1987-91 before enjoying a twelve-year professional career. Alongside Don Hay and Mike Johnston, Brian will be another asset within the organization that will produce some great WHL players within the Winterhawks organization. It will be a homecoming of sorts for Pellerin, who will be behind the bench when the Hawks play in Tri-Cities to open the regular season on October 1st. Pellerin will also be behind the bench during the Tri-Cities “tournament” to take place a couple of weeks earlier.
The big question is who will be in between the pipes this coming year. Returning as a 19-year-old will be Dante Giannuzzi, who has been a tough to get past backstop. In the wings will be Lochlan Gordon, who, while has not suited up for the Hawks, has been a very tough one to get pucks past. The wildcard may be Jesper Wallstedt, who hails from Sweden. At the 20th overall pick to the Minnesota Wild, it will be interesting to see what they wish to do. In his case, he has several options. His age will allow him to be in the AHL of the Minnesota Wild. He could also return to Sweden, where he could play professionally there. In Europe, many players are signed to professional deals at a younger age. In Sweden, though, he would play on a larger ice surface than North America. The other option is that he could also play in Portland in junior hockey. He most likely would only play a season here depending on his progress and has solid goaltending coaching in Portland under former NHL star goaltender Andy Moog. We may not learn what the Minnesota Wild will do for a bit yet as the WHL season doesn’t start for two months, and training camps look to start in early September.
Winterhawks that saw draft action during the NHL draft were Simon Knak, scooped up by the Nashville Predators, Tyson Kozak by the Buffalo Sabres, and Ryan McCleary by the Pittsburgh Penguins. In Knak’s case, he was surprisingly passed over in last year’s draft, and he will be a great fit in a talent-rich Nashville organization that includes former Winterhawks Luca Sbisa and Cody McLeod.
Two brothers, former Winterhawks, now rejoined together as members of Chicago Blackhawks. Seth Jones, who had been a member of the Nashville Predators, was traded to Chicago, where he then signed a rich 8-year contract with the Blackhawks. Young brother Caleb Jones, who was with the Edmonton Oilers, also found himself on the trading block and was also Chicago bound. They were like ships in the night with Seth a couple of years earlier in the Winterhawks organization before Caleb came onboard. Now they are with the same group and should provide years of excitement in the Windy City.
The latest addition to the NHL family is the neighbors to the north in the Seattle Kraken. Several Winterhawks were “exposed” in the expansion draft, where each team could lose one player. Only defenseman Dennis Cholowski from the Detroit Red Wings was scooped up by the Kraken. Three of Seattle’s home games during the preseason will be played at WHL Arenas in an interesting twist. Seattle, Everett, and Spokane.