Until the Spokane Chiefs, Tri-City Americans, Seattle Thunderbirds and Everett Silvertips can prove otherwise, the Portland Winterhawks are the elite team in the Western Hockey League's U.S. Division. The Winterhawks are strongly favored to win the division race this 2013-14 season. Portland easily won the division title last year on the way to the WHL championship and a berth in the Memorial Cup. Spokane and Tri-City had strong seasons last year, and Seattle and Everett made it a 5-for-5 divisional showing in the postseason. Read story
Portland was the only Western Conference team selected to the Canadian Hockey League's preseason top-10 rankings.
The Winterhawks were the highest-ranked team from the Western Hockey League, selected third behind the London Knights (Ontario Hockey League) and Baie-Comeau Drakkar (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League).
Kelowna, last year's second-seeded team out of the Western Conference, was an honorable mention selection.
Three WHL Eastern Conference teams gained rankings: Prince Albert, sixth; Edmonton, eighth; and Kootenay, 10th.