KNOW YOUR OPPONENT: The first installment of a new blog feature

This post begins what I hope to make a consistent presence in my pregame coverage. The credit goes to Tips fan and Center Field Sports proprietor Ben Greaby, who mentioned several weeks ago that while the average fan might know plenty about the Tips, they might not know key players on opposing teams.

Sometimes that info makes it into a game preview story, but not always – particularly as we try to focus on feature-type stories as setups for games rather than traditional previews. Ben suggested a less formal, players-to-watch type of preview on the blog and I thought that was a great idea.

The Opponent

The Portland Winterhawks (32-25-1-3, 68 points) are fourth in the U.S. Division and currently occupy the final wild card playoff spot. Known for their wide-open offensive approach, the Winterhawks score plenty of goals, but also allow plenty of chances for opposing teams. They’ve beaten the Tips the last three times they’ve played though Everett has a 4-3-1-0 mark in the season series.

The Players

No. 3 Caleb Jones (D): The younger brother of former Tips draftee and Winterhawks player Seth Jones (now with the Columbus Blue Jackets), the younger son of former NBA player Popeye Jones has seven goals and 14 assists. Caleb Jones was a fourth-round pick by the Edmonton Oilers in the 2015 NHL draft.

No. 8 Cody Glass (F): The 1999-born center is eighth in the WHL in scoring with 26 goals and 55 assists. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Winnipeg native is the eighth-ranked North American skater according to NHL Central Scouting’s midterm draft rankings and projected to be a first-round selection in this year’s NHL draft.

No. 13 Keegan Iverson (F): The overager was originally selected by the New York Rangers in the third round of the 2014 NHL draft, but wasn’t offered a contract. The Minnesota native has 18 goals and 34 assists in 44 games this season.

No. 16 Henri Jokiharju (D): The Finnish-born blueliner has eight goals and 33 assists as a rookie and is ranked 22nd among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting. He will likely be a first or second round selection in this year’s NHL draft.

No. 43 Skyler McKenzie (F): The diminutive winger is 14th in WHL scoring with 36 goals and 35 assists. The 1998-born native of Sherwood Park, Alberta, went undrafted last year but is making a strong case to be an overage selection in this year’s draft.

Others to watch: F Joachim Blichfeld (Danish native was taken 210th overall by the San Jose Sharks in last year’s NHL draft, 25 goals and 28 assists), F Ryan Hughes (25 goals, 28 assists in draft year).

For the latest Silvertips news follow Jesse Geleynse on Twitter.

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