Ken Hodge is on a talent search. After a stop in Regina, Saskatchewan, last weekend, the veteran Winter Hawk general manager heads to Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia the next three weekends as part of a Hockey Canada program to showcase the country's top young talent.
Portland owns the No. 1 pick and two second-round selections in the May 3 bantam draft in Calgary, Alberta. Along with representatives of other major junior clubs, Hodge watched 160 of the premier bantam age (14) players in Regina last weekend.
'I saw three players I'd be very happy with as a first-round choice,' Hodge says.
Not necessarily as the No. 1 pick, however. 'The first six or seven players this year are pretty close in talent,' Hodge says. 'If we were able to trade and get a reasonable facsimile (of the No. 1 pick) at a lower pick … it would depend on what the additional benefits would be, meaning another draft pick, or perhaps a player drafted last year. This would have to be discussed with our ownership, but there is a possibility of doing that.'
- Kerry Eggers