When the Detroit Red Wings came calling with an entry-level contract, Portland Winterhawks forward Cross Hanas described it as being a “weight off his shoulders.”
“I felt a lot lighter,” Hanas said. “It was like ‘oh my gosh, this is happening.’ It’s the kind of thing you dream about your entire life.”
If Hanas’ scorching play continues, the Red Wings organization can only dream about the possibilities from their 2020 second round pick.
A Rising Talent in the Red Wings Organization
Through 61 games this season, Hanas has 85 points along with some highlights that have generated attention. Whether it’s been overtime winners, a hat trick against Spokane back in February, or some slick passes, Cross Hanas has been a prospect to watch for Red Wings fans.
📽️ WHL Highlights – April 1, 2022
Cross Hanas plays overtime hero to cap off a furious Portland rally.
— The WHL (@TheWHL) April 2, 2022
Hanas ranks third in the WHL with 59 helpers while also notching 26 goals. He names Jonathan Huberdeau as an inspiration for his game, lauding the Panthers forward’s IQ as one to emulate.
“I like the playmakers,” Hanas said. “They see the ice so well and they make so many plays. Huberdeau has 77 assists and that’s my favorite stat line. I like the little plays he makes–the super smart plays seeing the ice so well. It’s probably my favorite thing to watch.”
While emulating playmakers like Huberdeau, his chemistry with teammate and friend James Stefan is evident. Starting together in Lincoln of the USHL, their connection carried over when Stefan joined the Winterhawks last season.
“We’ve been playing together for a few years now,” Hanas said. “He’s a great goal scorer. Just gotta get him the puck and he finds the back of the net. With me being more of a playmaker, it’s pretty easy when you have a goal scorer that you’re playing with every night.”
Stefan has been moving up in draft rankings, ranked #205 among North American skaters by Central Scouting. With 75 points (33-42) in 65 games and with the playoffs looming, there’s still time to move higher.
Might he interest Detroit?
“Man, we’ve talked about it before and I’d be loving it if that happened,” Hanas said. “He deserves to be picked pretty high in the draft. He’s been unbelievable the past few years.”
Stefan and Hanas went viral after emulating a pass-score sequence that Trevor Zegras performed earlier in the year. While the chemistry is evident, the chance at having a crack at being teammates in Detroit is a thought that has crossed their minds.
“If Detroit took him, that would be insane,” Hanas laughed. “I’d be really excited.”
Cross Hanas with the scoop and toss, James Stefan with the finish.
The "Zegras" is the new Michigan! pic.twitter.com/sJgKvltEA4
— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) December 19, 2021
Focused on the Job Ahead as Portland Heads to the Playoffs
The Winterhawks currently sit third in the Western Conference but Hanas is not looking too far ahead.
“We’re still battling here to secure a spot and nothing is guaranteed,” Hanas said. “We’re still getting the regular season done with and we don’t look too far into anything. We take it day-by-day, and week-by-week.”
Hanas attributes much of his mindset and growth to the Portland coaching staff.
“You couldn’t ask for anything more,” Hanas said. “(General manager and head coach) Mike (Johnston) has helped me with a lot of little things in my game–the habits and stuff I have to do to become a pro.”
With the Red Wings believing in a strong 200 foot game from their forwards, Hanas credits associate head coach Don Hay with also helping him become a more complete player.
“Don’s really helped me with the defensive side of my game,” Hanas said. “Becoming a better penalty killer and being good five-on-five in my own zone.”
If Cross Hanas does indeed make his way to Detroit, he names both coaches as critical in his development at the junior level.
“They’ve worked with me for four years now,” Hanas said. “I’ve been really thankful to have them as coaches.”