Keegan Iverson's Unusual Path to the NHL Draft

Dave Sandford

Minnesota native Keegan Iverson's time with the Portland Winterhawks have helped prepare him to be a pro.

Most Minnesotans don't leave home to join junior teams half a country away. Mostly, they stay home where their moms can cook them dinner and their high school hockey teams play at such a high level that they don't need to go anywhere. Every once in a while, a Minnesota native choose a different path, a path like the one that Keegan Iverson chose. Playing against and with high draft picks for the Western Hockey League's Portland Winterhawks has allowed him to improve and develop.

The WHL is mostly comprised of Canadian kids. There are a few Europeans who want to play in the NHL and want to adjust to the North American game and North American culture. The few Americans are frequently kids who are too old for high school hockey, but not ready to go the college route. Iverson is none of these. He's a kid from St. Louis Park who saw an opportunity to join a successful junior team, and took that opportunity. Iverson played at Breck before joining the Winterhawks in March of 2012.

Keegan Iverson also wears number 13 in honor of his friend Jack Jablonski. About Jabs, he said

"I’ve known him forever. It’s like a tragic thing, but at the same time it motivates me. He motivates me to achieve my goals because they’re his goals, too. He wants to walk again, he wants to play hockey again and I know he can do it. So I’m going to push myself to achieve his goals, too. Help him, be there for him, whatever. Represent his number.’’

His support of his friend is just one way he shows the great character he has on and off the ice.

Iverson is a big guy who isn't afraid of physical play or fighting. As a sixteen year old, he was listed as the heaviest player on the Winterhawks roster and he will probably get bigger. The WHL is a great place for him to play because it's a very physical league.

In this video Iverson totally dominates Griffin Foulk in a fight. It shows how much physical strength that he has.

This brief clip shows Iverson using his body to power his way to the net to get a shot on goal.

But he is more than just a physical player and has got the skills to play in a top six role if needed. In his second full season with the Winterhawks, he played mostly on the third line, but did spend some time on the power play. He wants to play like Jarome Iginla,  who is a player who can hurt the opposition in many different ways.

In addition to Iverson's size, the most impressive skill that he has in how well he sees the ice. His vision is better than his third line role would suggest. He is a blunt instrument with upside and character. Iverson is 85th on the NHL Central Scouting Rankings, so he's expected to be selected on the second day of the draft. The team that selects him will get a physical force and a great person too.

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