On Wednesday the Portland Winterhawks announced they acquired Swift Current Broncos starting goalie Joel Hofer in exchange for six draft selections over the next three drafts.
The draft selections include:
– 2019: First round and a third round acquired from Kootenay for Brad Ginnell
– 2020: Second round, fourth round, and a fifth round acquired from Everett for Bronson Sharp
– 2021: First round
Hofer is expected to join the team in time for the weekend series against Prince Albert and Saskatoon. He will continue to wear number 30 as he did with Swift Current.
Via a press release Mike Johnston, head coach and general manager, said, “We are excited to add Joel to our group for the next two seasons. He has proven to be an elite goaltender in the Eastern Conference.”
Who is Joel Hofer:
Joel Hofer is an 18-year-old, six-foot-three 160 pound goalie from Winnipeg, MB. As a 2000 birth-year, Joel is more than just a half-season rental. He has at least one more year in the WHL after this season, possibly two. Whether Portland gets a year and a half or two and a half years will depend on if he signs with his NHL team and plays in the NHL/AHL/ECHL ranks as a 20-year-old.
Many consider Hofer the best available goalie on the trade market in 2019 given his ability to help next season as well.
The St. Louis Blues selected Hofer in the 4th round of the 2018 NHL draft. He is currently unsigned by the Blues.
Last season Hofer was the backup to Logan Flodell prior to Flodell being traded in a blockbuster deal with Lethbridge. In the trade with the Hurricanes, Stuart Skinner came back to the Broncos and assumed the starter’s role. Hofer appeared in 19 games and posted solid numbers with a 2.61 goals against average and 0.914 save percentage. He also recorded one shutout a year ago as well.
In the 2018 playoffs Hofer also appeared in two games against the Regina Pats in relief. Over the course of the 46:04 minutes of playoff action, Hofer saved 14 of 16 shots. The Swift Current Broncos went on to win the Eastern Conference Final, the WHL Final, and represented the WHL at the 2018 Memorial Cup with Joel as their backup.
Hofer brings playoff experience and championship pedigree to Portland.
In a season where the Broncos were expected to, and are struggling to find the win column, Hofer has shined. Despite a 4.02 goals against average, which cannot all be credited to him as the Broncos lost many players from their team last year, Hofer’s save percentage only slightly decreased to 0.904 in 30 games played.
Amongst all WHL goalies Hofer ranks seventh in minutes played (1,806). Shane Farkas currently leads all goalies with 2,247 minutes. Hofer is first in shots faced (1,257) as well as saves (1,136) despite playing less games than the next closest netminder.
For perspective former Seattle, and now Lethbridge, goalie Liam Hughes is second in shots faced with 1,148, 109 behind Hofer, and Hughes has appeared in two more games including 95 more minutes of game action.
In terms of saves, Tri-City’s Beck Warm is second behind Hofer trailing him by 94 saves. Warm has appeared in five more games and played 293 more minutes.
Portland saw what Hofer can do first-hand last Friday. Portland sent 47 shots towards the Swift Current net, and scored four times.
On Saturday, Joel put together a 46 save shutout against Regina. It was the third straight appearance for Hofer facing 46 shots or more.
Earlier this year against Vancouver, the Giants put up a record 71 shots on Swift Current. Hofer was in net for all 71 and stopped 65.
What does this mean for Portland’s drafts
While nothing has been announced yet, I would anticipate Shane Farkas will remain with the team pending any further moves. The trade deadline is Thursday at 2:00 local time.
Portland’s draft cupboard is shallow near the top in the next three drafts pending any additional moves.
2019 – Their first selection will occur with their own 3rd round selection. Prince George owns Portland’s 2nd round pick as part of last season’s Dennis Cholowski acquisition.
2020 – Their first selection will not be until the 5th round. The 1st and 3rd round selections are also part of the Cholowski trade. As mentioned above their 2nd and 4th are included in the Hofer deal.
2021 – There are some conditions for this year. If Bobby Brink is signed Portland owes their 2nd round selection to Prince George. If Brink is signed, the Winterhawks will make their first selection in the 3rd round. The 4th round pick appears to be available as Brink will not sign with Portland prior to the January 10th deadline. The 6th round pick must be sent to the Cougars if Brink signs after January 10th and before October 10th 2019.
Current roster breakdown by draft round
The Winterhawks have found ways to remain competitive without top round selections in previous years.
Currently, eight players were not selected in the bantam draft:
- Lane Gilliss
- Jake Gricius
- Ryan Hughes
- Mason Mannek
- Nick Perna
- Matthew Quigley
- John Ludvig
- Clay Hanus
Another ten were fourth round or later selections:
- Cross Hanas (4th)
- Kade Nolan (4th)
- Jared Freadrich (4th by Regina)
- Shane Farkas (4th by Lethbridge)
- Tyson Kozak (6th)
- Robbie Fromm-Delorme (7th)
- Nick Cicek (7th)
- Brendan De Jong (7th)
- Jaydon Dureau (8th)
- Haydn Delorme (9th by Vancouver)
Two more are added if you include the other goalies:
- Dante Giannuzzi (5th)
- Evan Fradette (5th)
Two players were selected in the import draft:
- Michal Kvasnica
- Joachim Blichfeld
There are only three players on Portland’s roster on Wednesday selected in the first three rounds:
- Cody Glass (1st)
- Seth Jarvis (1st)
- Reece Newkirk (3rd)
Signed prospects not on roster
Portland currently has eight players not on roster but signed. Ten if you count Tyson Kozak and Evan Fradette.
- Gabe Klassen (2003) – Forward – 1st round
- Kurtis Smythe (2002) – Defense – 2nd round by Saskatoon
- Lochlan Gordon (2003) – Goalie – 3rd round
- Dawson Pasternak (2003) – Forward – 4th round
- Kishaun Gervais (2001) – Forward – Undrafted
- Ryan Miley (2000) – Defense – Undrafted
- Jack O’Brien (2003) – Forward – Undrafted
- James Stefan (2003) – Forward – Undrafted
The Winterhawks will again need to get creative with finding players outside of the top portion of the draft, but the cupboard isn’t bare of prospects and talent. Overall, the move fits with the core of young players while also providing a lift for this season.