The Portland Winterhawks had to cancel an exhibition game due to a lack of personnel this preseason. The team was forced to cancel a September 16th game against the Seattle Thunderbirds after injuries struck the club which had seen 15 players sent to NHL camps.
At best, the team should expect 14 back.
That’s because the Columbus Blue Jackets seem keen on keeping Winterhawks standout Ryan Johansen, who according to Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Scott Arniel, doesn’t have to play on the top two lines in order to make the team as a 19-year-old.
“(Johansen) doesn’t have to be one of our top two centers if he does make our hockey club,” Arniel told NHL.com. “He’s a talented kid who can play in a lot of situations.”
The Port Moody, BC. native isn’t eligible to play in the American Hockey League. It’s either the Columbus Blue Jackets or the Portland Winterhawks this year for the six-foot-three, 196-pound centre who starred for Canada at the 2011 World Junior Championship.
“He needs to come to camp next week and do what he does best and make it difficult on us, give us a tough decision,” Arniel said. “Obviously he can’t go to the AHL; he can only go back to junior, but I like what I’m seeing.”
There isn’t much left for Johansen to prove at the Major Junior level.
After being selected fourth overall by Columbus in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Johansen scored 40 goals and 92 points in 63 games. He added six assists and nine points in a silver medal effort at the 2011 World Junior Championship.
His junior accolades may push him into a new challenge at the NHL level.
“Whether it be in World Juniors or junior hockey, he’s a tremendous talent,” Springfield Falcons head coach Rob Riley told NHL.com.
Riley, in charge of Columbus’ prospects at the Traverse City tournament, liked what he saw out of the Portland Winterhawk.
“He’s worked very hard at it and Traverse is a great opportunity for him to showcase himself and gain momentum into main camp to make the team. He has all the talent, the work ethic is there. He’s a very confident, composed young man.”
Which could have Johansen poised for a gig under Arniel’s Blue Jackets this season.
Aaron Vickers is the managing editor of Future Considerations and can be found on Twitter. For all the latest Future Considerations news and posts, follow FC’s Official Twitter Feed, on YouTube and on Facebook!