Good news for that sweet spot of fans who love A) the Canucks, B) the Western Hockey League, and C) lumbering blue-line patrollers from Sweden taken in the fifth round because the Portland Winterhawks have selected Anton Cederholm 60th overall in the CHL Import Draft!
As you may have heard the Winterhawks are more than likely losing some giant man-boy named Seth Jones to the Nashville Predators, so the pick makes some sense. It also looks like Portland will be losing top D-Men Troy Rutowski and Tyler Wotherspoon (CHL old men) and possibly Derrick Pouliot depending on what the Pittsburgh Penguins decide to do with him next season. Personally, I get the feeling Pouliot will be coming back for his overaged season in the Dub. Listed at 6'0" 194 lbs. it seems like the Pens might want to give him the chance to develop a bit more and add some weight to his frame before throwing him in the AHL frying pan. But that's just a guess.
The real question here has to be if Cederholm will actually sign on to play in North America rather than staying at home in the Swedish Elite League. My gut tells me he is probably going to come over based on a couple factors. First, after losing their first round picks for the next five years after the WHL threw the hammer down on the them over some shenanigans, these import draft picks have suddenly become extremely important to building a competitive team. It's hard to see the 'Hawks taking a guy in this situation without being sure he would want to play for them. Second, in conjunction with the Cederholm pick Portland has waived Russian defenseman Kirill Vorobev. For those unfamiliar, CHL teams can only have two import players on their roster and the Winterhawks weren't going to waive WHL rookie scoring leader and Danish sensation (and, sigh, Columbus' 2013 3rd round pick) Oliver Bjorkstrand. Third, for all the jeers of "Cheaterhawks" by the haters (Seattle, Everett, Tri-Cities, Spokane... I'm looking at you first) they have been extremely effective in getting guys to come out and play over the last couple of years, convincing the likes of Seth Jones, Cam Reid, and Mac Carruth to shun the dreaded NCAA route. Finally, much like Jannik Hansen, I would imagine that the Canucks brass would encourage Cederholm to come over. It would give him a chance to get use to the smaller ice and more physical North American game while being coached by Mike Johnston who has really made the Portland into something of a prospect development machine.
With the possibility of Cederholm coming over and drafting Shinkaruk out of Medicine Hat it's suddenly a great time to be a Canucks fan and WHL team season ticket holder. Keep it up Canucks, I'm lazy and I don't want to have to work hard to see our prospects.