2017-18 Carolina Hurricanes Top Ten Prospects
When Ron Francis took over as GM the Canes were a sinking ship. Their NHL roster wasn’t very competitive, and the prospect pipeline was pretty dry. During his tenure to date, the Carolina Hurricanes have made strengthening their prospect pool a priority and the current group is a promising one.
During his tenure to date, the Carolina Hurricanes have made strengthening their prospect pool a priority and the current group is a promising one.
Francis has made several trades to acquire more picks and prospects, and their top ten list is strong. Their NHL roster is littered with players under 25-years-old such as Sebastian Aho, Victor Rask, Elias Lindholm, Teuvo Teravainen, Noah Hanifin, Jacob Slavin, and Brett Pesce.
Players eligible for these rankings include prospects under 25 years of age with less than 50 career NHL games played
1. Martin Necas, C – Brno (Cze)
Drafted: 12th overall in the first round of the 2017 draft by Carolina
While his regular season stats with his club team were modest, his performance on the international stage for the Czech Republic at the Hlinka, U18, and World Junior was very impressive. Necas also created some buzz at his first prospect camp this summer. Necas was also selected by Saginaw in the CHL Import Draft, and the KHL Draft with the 10th overall pick in each, but is expected to return home to play in the Czech league again. Necas needs to bulk up before he is ready for the NHL, but he has first line center upside.
2. Julien Gauthier, RW – Saint John (QMJHL)
Drafted: 21st overall in the first round of the 2016 draft by Carolina
The term “power forward” really applies to Gauthier who is so big and strong coming from a family of bodybuilders. Physically he was ready for the NHL last year but was returned to junior. He had a good development season playing in the World Junior for Canada and winning a QMJHL Championship with the Sea Dogs and a trip to the Memorial Cup. As a late birthday, Gauthier has now aged out of junior and will play his rookie pro season. He’ll likely starting in the AHL, but he is a safe bet to see some NHL duty this season.
3. Jake Bean, D – Calgary (WHL)
Drafted: 13th overall in the first round of the 2016 draft by Carolina
In his D+1 year, Bean eclipsed the point per game pace as a defenceman in the WHL in a dominant performance. Bean still has a year of junior eligibility and Francis will be patient and send him back for that year as the Canes have solid depth in the organization. However, of all the quality defensive prospects they have, Bean is clearly the better offensive player, and that is how the NHL is trending. Bean has potential top pairing upside if he can round out his game.
4. Haydn Fleury, D – Charlotte (AHL)
Drafted: 7th overall in the first round of the 2014 draft by Carolina
His rookie season in the AHL was solid, posting seven goals and 26 points and a plus -16. He has size, can skate, and is sound on both sides of the puck. Fleury is ready for the NHL now and should play the majority of the season with the big club, but if everyone is healthy, he could be sent to the AHL to play more quality minutes for stretches. Along with Anaheim Ducks, Carolina has one of the best collections of young defense prospects, and Fleury is a big part of that.
5. Nicolas Roy, C – Chicoutimi (QMJHL)
Drafted: 96th overall in the fourth round of the 2015 draft by Carolina
The former first overall pick in the QMJHL draft, Roy was a value pick for Carolina in the fourth round! Roy fell down the draft rankings, but a 90 point post-draft year breakout to make the Carolina scouts look like geniuses. His final year in junior was highlighted with a key role on Team Canada at the World Junior that ended in a nightmare failed shootout attempt that ended Canada’s bid for Gold as he lost the handle on his do-or-die attempt. Roy will join Gauthier in the AHL giving the Checkers a boost of size and skill that should make them a Calder contender.
6. Warren Foegele, LW – Erie (OHL)
Drafted: 67th overall in the third round of the 2014 draft by Carolina
Foegele was the last player cut at the start of last season and was returned to junior for his over age season to Kingston. He was traded to Erie as they loaded up for a Championship season, winning the OHL and the Memorial Cup in convincing fashion. He was named the playoff MVP. A widely underrated prospect, Foegele has size, is a strong skater, has a high hockey IQ, is a versatile forward and is strong on draws. He can play both special teams and is dangerous shorthanded. Foegele is a darkhorse candidate to make the Carolina roster in his first pro season.
7. Aleksi Saarela, C – Lukko (Liiga)
Drafted: 89th overall in the third round of the 2015 draft by New York Rangers
A key return in the Eric Staal trade. Saarela made the move to North America at the end of last season playing in nine games in the AHL where he posted 10 points but was held pointless in a five-game first round playoff loss. Saarela is projected to play the full season in the AHL getting more adjusted to North American hockey after last years small sample size.
8. Roland McKeown, D – Charlotte (AHL)
Drafted: 50th overall in the second round of the 2014 draft by Los Angeles Kings
Francis acquired both McKeown and a first in return for Andrej Sekera in what looks like a trade that will pay dividends for Carolina. The former Kingston Frontenacs Captain played his first full season in the AHL, playing well despite modest offensive numbers. McKeown is a sublime skater who can accelerate backwards from a standstill as quickly as he can accelerate forwards. He makes crisp outlet passes, has excellent gap control, hockey sense and is a leader as well. His game projects strongly to the NHL but the numbers game in Carolina on their deep blueline may work against him.
9. Janne Kuokkanen, LW – London (OHL)
Drafted: 43rd overall I the second round of the 2016 draft by Carolina
His first season in North America on the powerhouse London Knights was good. The Knights, always a deep team used him in a top-six role. The first half of his season started slow, he was getting chances, but just couldn’t cash. He finished the year on a high note, posting just over a point per game and hitting his stride in the playoffs with ten goals and 16 points in 14 games. Kuokkanen is yet another player that will be joining the Checkers in the AHL this season.
10. Andrew Poturalski, C – Charlotte (AHL)
Drafted: Signed as a free agent in 2016
The undrafted College free agent signed with Carolina and made his pro debut in Charlotte last year and led the team in points, assists and shots. The undersized forward looks to be a late bloomer as he was one of the top rookies in the AHL. He will need to produce offense to move up the depth chart as he lacks ideal size or skating ability.