Portland Winterhawks center Chase De Leo will be on the edge of his seat this coming weekend. De Leo was #36 in NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings heading into the 2014 NHL Draft, so he could easily be picked in the top 30 this Friday, or else early on Saturday morning.
At 18, De Leo already has a wealth of experience behind him with plenty more to look forward to in the future. He’s already played over 270 WHL games, including 64 playoff games, in his young career. He’s appeared in two Top Prospects games, has an Ed Chynoweth Cup under his belt, and just a few months after the draft, he’ll be trying out for a spot on the international stage.
De Leo is coming off a season that saw him notch 81 points in 72 games. That includes 39 goals, second-most (tied) on the team, and 42 assists. He also added 19 points (10-9) in 21 playoff games before the Winterhawks fell to the eventual Memorial Cup Champions, the Edmonton Oil Kings. This was the fourth straight season that the Winterhawks have advanced to the WHL finals.
“A real nose for the net, not afraid of heavy traffic.”
This season also saw the 18-year-old participate in two top prospects game. He first played in the 2013 CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game last September in Pittsburgh before taking part in the BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Calgary in January.
De Leo had one goal, five shots and won 14 of 18 faceoffs in September’s AAPG. In the Top Prospects Game in January, he had two penalty minutes as Team Cherry fell to Team Orr, 4-3.
Portland won the WHL championship last season (’12-’13), giving De Leo an Ed Chynoweth Cup victory in his sophomore season. That sophomore year saw De Leo rack up 56 points in 71 games, including a February 18 game that saw him notch five assists. His rookie season prior to that saw him put up 30 points in 69 games and earn co-rookie of the year honors with teammate Nic Petan.
De Leo, a native of La Mirada, California, was formerly a goaltender before making the switch to forward. According to the NHL.com prospect profile, his favorite NHL team is the Los Angeles Kings and his favorite NHL player is Matt Duchene.
Some of his top skills are his elite skating skills, his shot and maturity beyond his years, in part due to his heavy WHL experience prior to the draft.
De Leo is one of four Portland Winterhawks ranked by Central Scouting prior to the 2014 NHL Draft. He was 26th in midterm rankings and fell to 36th in the final rankings, but could easily still go first round on Friday.
After the draft, De Leo will attend the U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid in August. He’ll be auditioning for a spot on the IIHF World Juniors team that will participate in the tournament in December/January in Toronto and Montreal.
Follow Chase De Leo on Twitter here and keep an eye on the NHL Draft this weekend to see what NHL team selects the Winterhawks centerman and whether he ends up going in the first or second round.