NHL Draft Prospect Profile #52: Mike Winther

Drafted 54th Overall by the Dallas Stars.

From a team standpoint, it was a disappointing year for Mike Winther, as he spent the year playing for one of the WHL’s basement dwellers, the Prince Albert Raiders.  However from a personal standpoint it was a year of great growth for Winter.  He was able to play top line minutes, and to obliterate the point totals from his rookie season with over three times as many goals, and over five times as many points.  Winther also proved his ability to play in any situation and was relied upon to play many roles for the rebuilding Prince Albert team.  Winther finished the year playing for Team Canada at the IIHF Under 18 World Championships, where he was a member of the Bronze medal winning squad.

Left Wing/Center
Born Jan 9 1994 — Trochu, ALTA
Height 5.11 — Weight 170 — Shoots Left

2010-11 Prince Albert Raiders WHL 61 9 1 10 18 -11 4 0 0 0 2
2011-12 Prince Albert Raiders WHL 71 32 24 56 59 -9

Winther spent the majority of the season at left wing on the Raiders top line, however he is also capable of playing centre and has been used in that capacity in the past.

The first thing that stands out about Winther is his excellent skating ability.  His skating is so, so smooth.  He has very good first steps, quick acceleration, and great top end speed.  His agility and edgework is also excellent, as he makes quick movements, and changes directions effortlessly.  Winther’s skating is in the very top echelon of this draft class, and while he may not be Morgan Rielly or Andreas Athanasiou, he is in the top 5 or 10 pure skaters in this draft class.

Offensively Winther has high end hockey IQ.  He finds open areas in the offensive zone and exploits them, finding good areas from which to unleash his hard, accurate shot.  Winther has a good release that is often able to catch goalies off guard.  He is better suited to be a goal scorer than a passer, as he has a shoot first mentality.  He was at his deadliest on the PP, scoring 16 of his goals that way, the extra open space on the ice allowing him to find those open spots.  His vision is also not at the best level and for this reason his future may be better suited at left wing than centre.  Despite his size Winther is offensively engaged, fighting hard down low for pucks and getting to the front of the net, however he will need to add strength to be truly effective.  At 5’11” he’s not huge, but not overly short either.  However his 170 lb frame is a concern.

Winther has really excelled in his defensive assignments for Prince Albert.  He has become a top penalty killer and a guy used against other team’s top lines at even strength.  Despite getting these tough matchups, and playing on a rebuilding club, Winther was only -9 on the season, which is a testament to how well he performed.  In the defensive zone his strong positioning and quick stick and feet create a lot of turnovers and allow Winther to quickly transition from defence to offence.

Winther projects as a potential 2nd or 3rd line forward, who has versatility to play multiple positions, can play the PP and kills penalties.  He could become an important player coaches rely on in any situation.  We’d place his maximum potential to become a player similar to Joe Pavelski of the San Jose Sharks.

…. and thats the Last Word.

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