Evan Weinger signs an ATO with the L.A. Kings and other Portland Winterhawks’ news

Is there an off-season anymore in the WHL and NHL? Portland has 10 players participating in NHL development camps this month and one of those got enough attention already to warrant an Amateur Try Out contract or ATO. That was 1997-born winger Evan Weinger, who signed a try out deal with his hometown L.A. Kings. This type of contract is usually given to players at the end of their junior season by the team that has their draft rights. As an incoming 20-year-old and overage, Weinger is a free agent though and any team can sign him. Signing him to an ATO likely means the Kings want him to come back for their main training camp. We all know he has the speed to play professionally and his edge work is remarkable as well. He also made large strides in other areas of his game last year with the coaching staff doing a good job of game planning in a way that utilizes his strengths. The Kings like to look for speed in the WHL as seen by their drafting and signing the Regina Pats’ Austin Wagner. I would not put Weinger quite at the same level of the explosive Wagner, but he is still is one of the quicker players in the league.

Weinger is still very likely coming back to the WHL, but will it be with Portland? The Winterhawks have a total of five overage options in the 2017-18 campaign with fellow forwards Alex Overhardt and Colton Veloso, defenseman Keoni Texeira and goalie Cole Kehler. In a recent interview, Kehler speculated that he will return to Portland and the WHL, but that does not necessarily mean any promises have been made. Kehler went to camp with the Winnipeg Jets, while Texeira attended the Vegas Golden Knights’ camp and Overhardt spent time with the Nashville Predators. Of the five, only Veloso was left off the invite lists for NHL teams.

Despite the pro interest, it would be safe to assume all five are coming back to Portland and will be at the Neely Cup in late August. From there, decisions will have to be made and they will certainly be difficult ones.

Prospect news:

-Jensen is a listed forward who has committed to the University of Minnesota. Demin, who is a d-man, was a sixth round pick in the 2015 bantam draft and is also committed to Minnesota. He put up 37 points last year with the BCHL’s Wenatchee Wild. They both just completed the U.S.A.’s Select 17 camp last week and garnered enough notice to make the U-18 team for the Ivan Hlinka. Demin and Jensen were both named all stars at the camp. Demin went 1-2-0-2 with Team Grey, before helping Team All-Star White to a 2-1 win over Team All-Star Blue. Jensen had two assists for the 2-2-0-1 Team Royal before assisting on the winning goal in Team All-Star White’s win.

-2016, seventh round bantam selection Cal Sandquist starts play at the U.S.A.  Hockey Select 16 (2001-born players) this weekend. He will be tending net for Team Black. Also competing at the tournament is list defenseman Ryan Johnson (Team White).

Alumni news:

Joe Morrow signed a one-year deal with the Montreal Canadiens. An interesting angle on this deal is that his former club: the Boston Bruins, now has nothing left from the trade they made when they sent all-star Tyler Seguin to the Dallas Stars.

-Chris Francis re-signed with the ECHL’s Quad City Mallards. He is fresh off a career-high 60 point season that tied him for the team lead.

Ty Rattie signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Edmonton Oilers on July first. He just could never quite break into the NHL with St. Louis and is getting another chance up north. Oilers’ general manager Peter Chirarelli came right out and said that Rattie has “under-achieved at the NHL level… but we believe he can play for our team.” It looks like they will give him a fair shot to make the opening night roster though.

-Nino Niederreiter, who is coming off a 57-point season with the Minnesota Wild, has filed for arbitration.

-Caleb Jones does not get enough credit for his hard-nosed play.

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Brandon Rivers

Longtime Portland Winterhawks' blogger on hodgesheroes.blogspot.com. I also write for SB Nation on the for the Seattle Sin Bin at http://www.sonicsrising.com/seattle-sin-bin. Further, I have a Seattle-sports podcast over at 206sportsjocks.com Originally from the Portland area, now living in Seattle. Proud husband and Father.