The Hurricanes have one of the weaker prospect pools in the NHL and the main reason why is an inability to draft and develop players. In the last ten years, Carolina has a terrible track record with their draft picks after the second round. Sure it is rare to have many solid NHL players come in the later rounds, but in that time the only players drafted later than the second round that are still with the organization that have played more than ten games are Chris Terry (70 games ) and Michael Jordan (43 games).
The first two rounds have not all been home runs as well with Philippe Paradis (0 games) Phil Di Giuseppe (0 games), Victor Rask (80 games) and Brian Dumoulin (3 games) all either first or second round picks combining for a total of 83 games played.
For Carolina to regain a competitive roster they must improve their draft and develop trend significantly and immediately.
1. Noah Hanifin: Defense – 6’2” / 205 lbs
Drafted: 5th overall in the first round of the 2015 draft by the Hurricanes.
For most of the year, Hanifin was the consensus third ranked player for the 2015 draft class behind only Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, so Carolina must have been elated to have him fall to the at fifth overall. While Hanifin didn’t exactly produce jaw dropping numbers in his draft year scoring 23 points in 37 games with Boston College, scouts are not concerned about his offensive abilities citing his teams overall lack of offensive fire power as the reason why. Hanafin has plenty of potential and projects to be a top pairing two-way defenceman in the NHL.
“An elite skater, and at 6-foot-2 and 203 pounds already has NHL size. He had a solid showing with the United States at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.” (Adam Kimelman of NHL.com)
“The left-shot defender had five goals, 23 points and 52 blocked shots in 37 games as a freshman with the Eagles. Scouts love his offensive ability but his defensive game is a bit underrated. Hanifin’s ability to excel in pressure situations and on the transition is a strength.” (Mike Morreale of NHL.com)
2. Haydn Fleury: Defence – 6’3” / 198 lbs
Drafted: 7th overall in the first round of the 2014 draft by the Hurricanes.
Fleury had a disappointing year, seeing his point totals plummet from 46 points in his draft year to 28 this year, and two points in a short five game playoff before being eliminated. Upon conclusion of his season in Red Deer, Fleury made his pro debut with Charlotte in the AHL and scored his first AHL goal in his first AHL game.
Fleury is a big, physical blueliner who shows good offensive ability. He’s strong and balanced on his skates, keeps his head up and understands developing plays. He rubs opposing forwards out and isn’t shy to make a solid hit. (Future Considerations)
3. Brock McGinn: Left Wing – 6’0” / 186 lbs
Drafted: 66th overall in the third round of the 2012 draft by the Hurricanes.
Since being drafted, McGinn had a breakout season in junior with Guelph seeing his point totals jump to 54 and to 85 in his final two seasons and was a key member in their Memorial Cup run. Last year he played a full season in the AHL and as a rookie he scored 27 points in 73 games. His AHL numbers were not impressive enough to earn him a NHL spot, so unless he has an amazing leap forward in training camp, expect the Hurricanes to allow him to continue to develop for another year in Charlotte.
There is no question that McGinn has the competitive demeanor to play at the NHL level. McGinn is not a skilled forward, but instead a hard-working player who is willing to get his nose dirty. While he put up big offensive numbers in his final season of junior hockey he is at his best when shutting down opposition offensive players. (Hockey’s Future)
4. Sergey Tolchinsky: Left Wing – 5’8″ / 169 lbs
Acquired: Signed as free agent 2013.
Tolchinsky was a training camp invitee and his offensive skills were so impressive that the Hurricanes signed him to a contract. His offensive numbers are impressive, scoring 91 and 95 points in his last two seasons with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the OHL and adding 14 points in 14 playoff games this season. He has also impressed on the international stage, scoring four goals and an assist in seven games with Russia at the World Juniors. His one-on-one moves against the goalie are youtube highlight reel material. He can score with frequency at the highest levels in junior and in training camp, but expect his offensive contributions to be put to the test in the AHL for the upcoming season to see if his scoring skills will translate into the pro ranks.
“A very small, speedy and dynamic player, Tolchinsky is an electrifying and dangerous forward capable of pulling off highlight-reel plays. At this point Tolchinsky is a one-way player so teams will need to carefully weigh the risks and rewards with this scoring star.” (Brendan Ross)
5. Trevor Carrick: Defence – 6’2” / 175 lbs
Drafted: 115th overall 2012
Carrick is one of the players Carolina is hoping they can develop who was drafted in a later round. The hard hitting and physical defender made his pro debut playing in 76 games with Charlotte and played well, contributing 32 points and racking up 94 penalty minutes. His skating, and defensive game will need to improve as his plus minus was a minus -19 before he will patrol the Hurricanes blueline. Still only 20 years old, and if he continues to develop at his current pace, he will evolve into a serviceable top four NHL blueliner.
A two-way defensemen with a knack for physicality, Carrick has some of the tools in place to become a standout defender. He displayed some offensive elements to his game in his final season of junior hockey but is expected to be more of a stay-at-home defender with a physical component to his game at the pro level. (Hockey’s Future)
6. Roland McKeown: Defence – 6’1” / 186 lbs
Drafted: 50th overall in the second round of the 2014 draft by the Kings.
Acquired: Carolina acquired McKeown and a 2016 first round pick from Los Angeles for Andrej Sekera.
Named the Captain of his junior team the Kingston Frontenacs, his point totals actually dropped from 43 in his draft year to 32 this season. His team was not as high scoring as the previous season and Head Coach Paul McFarland stressed defence all season, so it is not surprising to see his point totals dip slightly. After the Fronts were swept by North Bay in the playoffs, McKeown played four games in Charlotte and picked up one assist while posting a promising plus minus of plus -3. McKeown will see one more year of junior where he will lead Kingston before playing a year or two in the AHL before eventually establishing himsef as a reliable top four NHL defenceman.
“Solid all-around defender with excellent balance, stride and quickness. Positionally solid, and already cool and collected in his game, with excellent vision and reliablity in all situations. Handles the puck well in his own zone, in transistion and on breakouts. displays a hard point shot. If he is able to grow a bit more edge, he will climb up the rankings. He was selected to the roster for the World Junior Under-18 Tournament in April, 2013.” (Bill Placzek – Draftsite.com)
7. Brett Pesce: Defence – 6’3” / 175 lbs
Drafted: 66th overall in the 3rd round of the 2013 draft by the Hurricanes.
After three years of college hockey with New Hampshire, Pesce forgoes his senior year and signed his first pro contract. Since his draft in his past two seasons at New Hampshire, Pesce improved his scoring pace to half a point per game and rounded out his overall game. Carolina likes his all-around potential and his hockey sense and have high hopes for his rookie season in Charlotte this upcoming season.
6-foot-3 defenseman played a full slate this year with New Hampshire in the NCAA as a late birthday ’94… Like many of the defensemen in the 2nd round range, Pesce thrives playing an economical game… Does a good job getting his body into shooting and passing lanes and has an active stick and good awareness of the play… Makes a fine first pass but doesn’t possess any real offensive component to his game… Needs to fill out his frame the next couple of seasons before jumping to pro hockey. – The Scouting Report
8. David Cotton: Center – 6’3” / 200 lbs
Drafted 169th overall in the sixth round of the 2015 draft by the Hurricanes.
Who the heck is David Cotton? The big Texan is a relative unknown but he light up New England prep hockey last season playing for Crushing Academy scoring 27 goals and 69 points in only 33 games. Cotton is committed to Boston College in 2016, so he represents a very long term project, but one NHL scout says he has the makings to be a serious NHL prospect. At only 18 and already 6’3” and 200 lbs his strengths are his puck protection skills, skating, size and offensive skills.
Texas-born Cotton played prep hockey at Cushing Academy this past season, and at 6’3″ 200 lbs, his opponents had a difficult time containing him. In 33 games Cotton stomped across New England last year, averaging over two points per game and earning Central Scouting’s top ranking among New England prep hockey’s draft eligible players. (Ross Bonander THW)
9. Alex Nedeljkovic: Goalie – 6’0” / 192 lbs
Drafted: 37th overall in the second round of the 2014 draft by the Hurricanes.
Carolina management knows Nedeljkovic very well as Owner Peter Karmanos also owned his junior team the Plymouth Whalers, and Nedeljkovis’s former Coach and GM in Plymouth is now current Hurricanes Assistant GM and Director of Hockey Operations Mike Vellucci. The 2014 OHL Goalie of the year followed his All-Star season up with a disappointing season and a 20-28 record with a 3.13 GAA and a .916 save percentage. Following the year he saw 3 games in the ECHL and allowed ten goals on 63 shots, but sported a 2 – 1 win record. Nedeljkovic can return to junior for one more year before turning pro where he will likely follow in Daniel Altshullers footsteps and start in the ECHL.
Lacking ideal size at 6-foot-0, Alex Nedeljkov relies on his athleticism, quick reflexes and instinctual reads to gain that split second advantage on shooters. The American butterfly goaltender is technically sound in his crease and has loads of confidence. Nedeljkovic has proven to be a big game player whether representing USA Hockey internationally or defending crease in Plymouth. He recently returned home from Finland after winning a gold medal with USA at the Under-18 World Championships. He’s the type of poised puck stopper who can steal a game outright.” (Brendan Ross Dobber Prospects)
10. Sebastian Aho: Left Wing – 5’11” / 172 lbs
Drafted: 35th overall in the second round of the 2015 draft by the Hurricanes.
Aho is a highly skilled offensive player with good vision and speed. In his draft year he produced impressive numbers playing junior hockey in Finland with 59 points in 44 games. Last season he graduated to the men’s league with Karpat and Assat (loan) and passed the eye test while producing 11 points in the 27 games he played. Aho will return for another season in Liiga with Karpat before coming over to North America
A very competitive buzzsaw-type winger who will wear the opposition down in their own end. Strong on his skates and has room for even more growth in that department. Excellent puckhandling ability and finesse; controls plays with form and function. Can try to do too much, but that will go away with time and maturity. All-in-all, a winger that loves to compete and be hard to play against. (Curtis Joe, EP 2015)
Recent Roster Graduates: Elias Lindholm, Ryan Murphy, Victor Rask, Michal Jordan, Chris Terry, Andrej Nestrasil
Players under 25 years old and with less than 25 career NHL games played qualify as a prospect for purpose of this list.
Written by Peter Harling, who can be found on twitter @pharling