Riding the success from a breakout 2012 campaign, Portland Winterhawks forward Nicolas Petan was named the WHL’s Player-of-the-week on Monday, after leading the ‘Hawks to three victories in as many games.
Petan, 18, co-lead the WHL and CHL is points last season, as the Winterhawks captured the WHL crown, and he currently sits second in scoring this season, despite playing in just 11 games. Portland (9-3) is just off their scorching pace of last season, but again looks to be one of the strongest squads in the league.
Petan was selected by the Winnipeg Jets in the second round of the 2013 NHL Draft, and is in his third year with the Winterhawks. He was named the teams MVP last season after scoring 120 points, spearheading Portland’s dream run to the WHL Championship.
The Winterhawks sparked something special during that run, capturing the states attention, and they could not have made the run without Petan. He’s a natural skater, who seems to have the intangibles needed to succeed at the next level, despite his relatively slight frame at just 177 pounds.
“Petan is a spectacular talent with the ability to dazzle spectators on a nightly basis. He flashes unique talents using his vision and soft hands to create plays out of seemingly harmless situations.” Says Jared Abbott of FlyersFaithful.com.
Petan has been on hockey’s radar screen for years, according to hockeysfuture.com, who had Petan on their radar as far back as 2009.
His bio, taken earlier this year, seems to be fitting of his on-ice performance. “Offensively gifted with high-end skating skills. Size might prove detrimental, though Petan has played “big” throughout his career. Quick release. A slick passer of the puck.”
I think his opponents would agree.
The season may be young, and things can certainly turn, but as it stands now, the Winterhawks and Petan seem to be finding their groove.
Last season, without head coach Mike Johnston, they were playing with house money, a team — and a franchise — expected to fold under the sanctions handed down by the WHL.
All they did was run away with the title.
They were fast, they were unselfish, and they were, above all, more talented than their opposition. They played with a purpose, and that common goal helped propel them to the title.
Entering this season, a whole new set of expectations placed upon them brought a new vibe to the team. No longer the hunters, Portland has received their opponent’s best shots, but now, after a rocky start, both the team and Petan have settled in.
Riding a 6-game win streak, the Winterhawks find themselves in second place in the division, just a half-game back in the U.S. Division, tied with Seattle.
There’s still five months left in the regular season, but a young squad with a talented leader is just beginning to figure out how good they can be.
Led by Petan, I think that ceiling sits higher than most.