RALEIGH, N.C. – Following an active and productive weekend at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft held at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., the Carolina Hurricanes ended up with 11 new members of the organization to introduce to fans throughout the Triangle.
In addition to nine draft picks, led by top pick defenseman Noah Hanifin, the Hurricanes also acquired goaltender Eddie Lack from Vancouver and defenseman James Wisniewski in a trade with Anaheim that involved goaltender Anton Khudobin departing as a result.
Executive vice president and general manager Ron Francis was busy and didn’t disappoint in many people’s opinions as he continued to rebuild Carolina’s farm system while still keeping an eye on filling immediate needs in the Hurricanes’ current lineup.
However, in bringing in so much unrealized potential, that’s all these young prospects are at this point, doesn’t automatically equate into winning a Stanley Cup, let alone making it to the postseason.
There is much, much work still to do.
However, the chances of this franchise reaping higher dividends through proper prospect selection and development at both the American Hockey League (AHL) and National Hockey League (NHL) levels have increased.
The Hurricanes currently have more than 80 percent of their picks since the 2010 draft still playing and developing within their system.
With the team’s Prospect Camp coming up in early July, there will be nine more players who will get the chance to become a part of it.
Hurricanes director of amateur scouting Tony MacDonald provided his thoughts on the team’s 2015 draft picks.
- Defenseman, Boston College (Hockey East)
“We haven’t seen the best of Noah Hanifin yet, and what we have right now is a pretty good player. The upside is significant. He has the chance to be a real horse at the NHL level for a long, long time. We think we have a good group of defensemen now. He just adds to and enhances that.”
- Right Wing, Karpat (Finnish Hockey League)
“He’s an impressive young man. We like the upside – he’s not a real big guy – but the speed and the skill of the consistent level of compete are very attractive to us.”
- Goalie, Quebec (QMJHL)
“He’s a tremendous athlete. He’s a big man, moves very well. He got caught in a difficult situation this year in Quebec when they were hosting the Memorial Cup and they ended up trading for Zach Fucale who had a Memorial Cup on his resume and a gold medal. Fucale got most of the games, but Callum had played quite well up to that point in time. He’s a pretty highly regarded goalie by Hockey Canada. We felt that when we wanted to take a goalie – we’re especially pleased that he’s a pretty accomplished athlete.”
- Center, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)
“With Nic it’s probably a little bit of a concern with his skating style. We compare him to Frederik Gauthier, the Leafs’ draft pick in the first round a couple of years ago. He’s a pretty complete player. He plays well on both sides of the puck. A lot of size, good hockey sense – a guy that competes hard on a consistent basis. He was a first overall pick in the Quebec Hockey League in his draft year. He’s been two years there now. I think they were hoping his production would have been high, but I think he had a pretty solid year for the team, for a team that was a middle-of-the-pack team in Chicoutimi.”
- Left Wing, Noble & Greenough (HS)
“Stevens is a big man. He’s a big kid who’s still developing. He’s going to go to school. We think we afford to sit and wait for him to evolve as a player . We like the size. We like the compete and the skill that he has.”
- Right Wing, Saint John (QMJHL)
“An underrated, under-the-radar guy. This kid is an underrated player. He put up impressive numbers, and he’s also very responsible. He kills penalties, plays well away from the puck and is a character guy with leadership qualities. They are pretty excited about him in Saint John, and we felt, at the spot we were picking, we didn’t want to pass on him.”
- Defenseman, Kimball Union (HS)
“Massie’s such a big guy, he’s pretty slight right now – he has to fill out. The man-strength is not there yet. He’s still maturing physically, but we like his composure as a player. We like his ability to handle and move the puck – the ability to make good decisions under pressure. Upside is the word here. The toolbox is there. He just has to fill out. He’s got a great sense for the game. He’s got good hockey sense, so once the physical components start to come together and he starts to mature and get bigger and stronger, we’ll expect that he’ll evolve into a pretty good defenseman.”
- Center, Cushing Academy (HS)
“Cotton is a big guy – skates very well. His skill level is very impressive and he put up pretty good numbers. You have to take into consideration the level of play when those numbers go up, but in his case, with that big body and skating ability, playmaking ability, we’re kind of excited about what this kid could become down the road.”
- Center/Left Wing, Peterborough (OHL)
“He’s a late bloomer. He’s been through a draft. A hard-nosed, two-way player. When he was drafted into the OHL, he was like 5-9 and a 138 (pounds). Now he’s 6-3 and 190 pounds, so he’s gotten a lot bigger and stronger and rounded out his game. He’s a good two-way player – plays well with and without the puck. Modest numbers offensively, but on a team that doesn’t post big numbers normally. So, we think for where we got him, he’s certainly a kid that we’ll give every opportunity to show that he can be a good prospect.”