NHL Draft 2014: Carolina Hurricanes incoming class adds to system depth

NHL, NHL.com
NHL, NHL.com
NHL, NHL.com

PHILADELPHIA, PA. – Carolina Hurricanes executive vice president and general manager Ron Francis was pleased with the results his scouts and management team produced in adding new prospects into the team’s development system from the 2014 NHL Entry Draft that came to a close at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday.

During the remaining six rounds of the draft, the Hurricanes selected a goaltender, two centers, a winger and two defensemen to go along with top pick defenseman Haydn Fleury who was selected seventh overall on Friday.

This year’s draft class, as well as players from previous drafts will arrive in Raleigh in late July for the Hurricanes’ Prospects Development Camp that will begin Wed. July 23 and continue into the Hurricanes Summerfest festivities that will take place during that subsequent weekend at PNC Arena.

2nd Round – 37th overall – G – Alex Nedeljkovic

Nedeljkovic played under Hurricanes new assistant general manager Mike Velucci during his tenure as head coach of the Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) Plymouth Whalers and was listed fourth on NHL Central Scouting’s list of North American draft-eligible netminders.

The native of Parma, Ohio, was named the OHL Goaltender of the Year in 2013-14, played in 61 of Plymouth’s 68 games, posted a 26-27-7 record, and ranked second in the League with a .925 save percentage.

He is the first netminder in Whalers franchise history to claim Goaltender of the Year honors and just the third American-born goalie to win the award.

Regarded as “a workhorse in the net”, Nedeljkovic made 2,042 saves while facing the second most shots in the OHL (2,207), and was also named an OHL First Team All-Star.

NHL Central Scouting’s Al Jensen was noted in describing Nedeljkovic’s style of play:

“He’s one of the quickest goalies available in the upcoming draft. Alex has excellent lateral quickness and moves effortlessly throughout his crease with quickness and control. He competes and battles very hard and gives his team a chance to win every night,”

He led Plymouth to a 23rd consecutive playoff appearance in 2013-14, stopping an average of 38 shots per game in the team’s first-round series versus Guelph including a 52-save performance in their only win of the postseason.

In two seasons with Plymouth, Nedeljkovic finished with a 45-29-9 record to go along with a 2.71 goals-against average.

Internationally, he backstopped Team USA to a gold medal at the 2014 Under-18 World Championship, posting a 5-1 record and leading the tournament with a 1.84 goals-against average, and also represented the U.S. at the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial, earning a silver medal.

Nedeljkovic began his hockey career with the Parma Flyers in his home state of Ohio and also played for the Cleveland Barons before joining the Detroit Belle Tire program in his final minor hockey season.

3rd Round – 67th overall – LW – Warren Foegele

Playing for St. Andrews College, a prep high school in Aurora, Ontario, Foegele helped the Saints earn the Triple Crown in winning the prestigious MacPherson Tournament title and both the Conference of Independent Schools Athletic Association (CISAA) and the Midwest Prep Hockey League championships in Ontario.

The six-foot-one-inch left winger from Markham, Ontario scored two goals in a 4-1 deciding-game victory in the best-of-three series against the Upper Canada College Blues to claim the CISAA title.

Foegele, who was listed 66th on NHL Central Scouting’s final draft rankings after tallying 107 points (58g, 49a) in 52 games for St. Andrews during the past season, has committed and plans to begin his collegiate career playing at the University of New Hampshire while working his way into the Hurricanes system.

He will not be alone as Carolina’s 2013 third-round (66th overall) pick, defenseman Brett Pesce, will be entering his junior season with the Wildcats and will be able to offer some guidance accordingly.

4th Round – 96th overall – D – Josh Wesley

Carolina held the 96th and 97th picks in the fourth round, and used the first of those to select former Junior Hurricanes defenseman Wesley from Plymouth.

Probably the most notable of Carolina’s draft class in being the son of former Hurricanes defenseman and current director of defenseman development, Glen Wesley, the junior Wesley is the first North Carolina minor-hockey-trained player to be drafted into the NHL.

He was born in Hartford, Conn., but raised in Raleigh where he developed his skills throughout his minor hockey career.

The 18-year-old, six-foot-two-inch, 194-pound forward-turned-defenseman came into the draft sitting in 111th place on NHL Central Scouting’s list and played his first season of major junior hockey in 2013-14, scoring one goal, earning eight assists (9 points) and accumulating 62 penalty minutes while playing in all 68 of the Whaler’s regular-season games.

A forward for much of his career, Wesley converted to being a full-time defenseman with the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes Under-16 team in 2011-12, before joining the U.S. National Under-17 Team in Ann Arbor, Mich. for the 2012-13 season.

Quickly adapting to his newer role after a season playing in it, Wesley is now regarded as a shutdown defenseman and knows the opportunity he has in front of him to play at the NHL level.

Growing up, he celebrated Carolina’s Stanley Cup victory in 2006 on the ice with his dad and family and also skated alongside his father when his No. 2 jersey was retired by the Hurricanes.

“Absolutely amazing – I’m on Cloud 9,” Wesley said when asked how he was feeling in being drafted by a team that he’s been around most of his life.

“It’s a huge honor,” he continued when talking about growing up and playing hockey in North Carolina.

“It’s an honor to be the first, and hopefully for more to come.”

4th Round – 97th overall – C – Lucas Wallmark

With their second fourth-round pick (97th overall), the Hurricanes selected young Swede Lucas Wallmark.

The Umea, Sweden, native played the majority of the 2013-14 season with Lulea of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL), scoring three goals and earning seven assists (10 points) in 41 games.

The six-foot, 176-pound centerman also played 11 games with Asploven of Sweden’s second division, posting one goal and seven assists (8 points).

He captured the silver medal with Team Sweden at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship, ranking third on the team in scoring behind 2012 NHL first-round (11th overall) draft pick Filip Forsberg and 2013 Hurricanes first-round (5th overall) draft pick Elias Lindholm.

5th Round – 127th overall – C – Clark Bishop

Carolina used its 127th overall pick to select center Clark Bishop from the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).

The St. John’s, Newfoundland, native scored 14 goals and earned 19 assists (33 points) in 56 games with the Screaming Eagles in 2013-14, his second season of playing major junior hockey.

A solid six-foot, 183-pound center, Bishop was a teammate of Fleury’s on Canada’s bronze-medal-winning 2014 IIHF U18 World Championship squad as well as its gold-medal-winning team at the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.

7th Round – 187th overall – D – Kyle Jenkins

Without a sixth-round pick which went to the Vancouver Canucks as the result of a trade early last season, the Hurricanes selected defenseman Kyle Jenkins with their last and the 187th overall pick.

The Brampton, Ontario, native played his first full season of major junior hockey for the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in 2013-14 and scored seven goals, tallied 18 assists (25 points) and posted a plus-6 plus-minus rating in 63 games.

The six-foot, 166-pound blueliner was paired with Carolina’s 2013 sixth-round (156th overall) selection Tyler Ganly for the majority of the season.