CALGARY, AB --
With Sven Baertschi
lighting it up for the Winterhawks this year, his fellow Flames prospect Tyler Wotherspoon
was overlooked by some but the Surrey, BC product quietly put together a very solid season in Portland.
Due to his strong play in his own zone, the defenceman played a top-two role for Portland and was matched up against other teams top players nightly. Offensively, Wotherspoon set new career-highs in all categories with 7 goals, 21 assists and 28 points through 67 games. He also posted a new career-high with a plus-18 rating in the regular season.
During Portland's lengthy playoff run, Wotherspoon was a pillar on strength on the blueline. He routinely lined up against some of the WHL's top players and helped lead his team all the way to Game 7 of the WHL Championship series.
According the Portland general manager and head coach Mike Johnston, the reason Wotherspoon - selected in the second round, 57th overall - may not be noticed as much as the rest of the 2011 Flames draft class is his style of play.
"He's not a flashy player," Johnston said. "He is a solid, all-around defenceman. A guy who can kill penalties, be good defensively, create some things offensively. But he's not flashy."
Johnston pointed out his two-way game as one of Wotherspoon's greatest strengths this season, noting his first pass and neutral zone play have progressed nicely over the last year.
"As far as breakouts and moving the puck out, he's really good.
"He moves the puck so well that it takes the pressure off your team because you can escape your zone, you can break out quicker."
The 6-foot-1, 200 lbs. blueliner also got a better handle on how to effectively use his size this season. His ability to clear out of crease, giving his netminder a clear view of incoming shots, and his one-on-one coverage were strong points of development.
Last summer, Wotherspoon underwent shoulder surgery and was not able to participate in training camp so fans will get an opportunity to get a good read on the defenceman this summer during the Flames annual development camp and at the main camp in the fall.
"People are going to get to know him," Johnston said. "They're going to get to know him this year when he actually plays some exhibition games.
"I think he's going to be a very good, solid player. Defencemen are hard to find. You can never have too much depth on defence. He's going to give Calgary some really good depth on defence."