Mailbag Anticipating Hurricanes: Draft Version

The draft begins July 7, and people have questions about the draft, the status of the pipeline, and more. Since this is such a big time of the year for the future of the team, I knew I’d be answering a few questions from Canes fans in order to help prepare everyone for the draft season.

Connor decided to hit me with the hardest question first, I see. The Hurricanes would have no choice until the end of the second round and at that point, you were just hoping to craft the best player available. I’m not a huge fan of goalkeepers in this draft and feel the Hurricanes could get a goalkeeper in the later rounds of the draft, so I rule that out. I imagine Hurricanes are choosing another defensive possibility to help bolster their blue streak. You won’t be able to have Pesce, Skjei, and Slavin forever and will eventually need to fill these roles with younger players. It all depends on how Hurricanes are presented to the available players.

It’s possible that there will be a number of defenders in the middle of the second round and the Hurricanes have to take one of the attackers off their list. It is also possible that the team really likes one of the best goalkeepers in this draft and decides to take this goalkeeper. Daily Faceoff’s Chris Peters wrote about the needs of all 32 teams in the draft, and his need for Hurricanes was goalkeeping. I don’t agree with Chris, however. Pyotr Kochetkov will be the starting NHL goalkeeper and they also have Eetu Makiniemi in the pipeline. If McKinney can stay healthy, I’ll bet he at least makes it to the NHL at some point. He may not be a beginner player, but he is a capable reserve to say the least. The team also owns Patrick Hammerla, who had a solid season despite playing in a weaker QMJHL team. However, the jury is still out on Hammerla, as he is only 19 years old and it doesn’t hurt to shoot at least one goalkeeper in every draft, but I think the Hurricanes wait until later in the draft before they take the first goalkeeper .

I asked for clarification on this question, and was meant to ask if any of Wolverham’s players on AHL contracts would get an NHL contract with the Hurricanes. Griffin Mendel, Evan Lodnia and Kyle Marino appear to be the players who have seen regular time with Wolves this season. Mendel has already re-signed with Wolves for next season, but it is always possible that he will receive an invitation to development camp and receive an NHL contract based on his performance. Kyle Marino is an in-depth AHL player, and in my opinion wouldn’t be an NHL player. However, Ivan Ludnya may deserve another chance in his NHL deal. I thought he was cool when he was in the lineup with Wolves, especially during the Finals. His speed, perseverance on the front check and relentless drive are enough for me to believe he could earn an NHL contract. He had a tough experience with Minnesota but was able to carve out a role for himself in the AHL, and with a little refinement, he could be a nice piece of depth in the NHL. I don’t see Ludnia being among the top nine strikers ever, but he has the attitude and tenacity that Rod Brendamor is looking for in his fourth-line players.

I choose two possibilities: a striker and the other a defender. Tuukka Tieksola has always been one of my favorite prospects to watch, and although last year hasn’t been the best, I still think he’ll be an NHL player. He’s fast, capable of making decisions at a high pace, skilled at a puck, and an overall great offensive player. There are some issues with stability and defensive work, so I’m not sure if he’ll be an NHL player. However, I am inclined to believe that the Hurricanes will be able to make the most of Tieksola and turn him into a top nine attacker.

In defense, I like Dominic Vinsor. Fensore is a rare occurrence with so few smaller NHL defensive backs, but I think it would be an offensive defense at an NHL level. The player’s size doesn’t match his skill level and Fensore plays like he’s 6ft 2 in terms of how he hits the disc. He’s an excellent passer and a player who was one of the best dash defenders in the NCAA this past season. Keep an eye on these two guys, especially since Tieksola turns pro next year.

Honorable Mention: Massimo Rizzo. I love the way he plays and I think he could be the top nine forward in the NHL.

I think Kane has a good chance, especially since the Hurricanes don’t have the obvious strength playing a quarterback for Unit Two. His game matured last year and I think he’s ready for the NHL role. That, of course, depends on what Hurricanes decide to do in their defense next year. If Chatfield is on the list, Hurricanes may choose to bring in more experience and let Keane develop for another year. He’s only 22, so he’ll probably sign a two-year contract where the first year is a two-way deal and the second he moves to a one-way deal. Right now I’ve been putting Kane’s odds of 60% on making my opening night roster, but that could easily change if the Hurricanes brought in a big defensive guy.

Drury plays an all-around game and I think he could play anywhere in the Hurricanes lineup. Brind’Amour will use it in a variety of situations, and I think it will help hurricanes. Drury is able to get around the crease and get at greasy targets, something Hurricanes can always use. Realistically, I see Drury playing on the third streak for most of his career. I think he could play in the squad, but I’m not sure if he’ll be able to produce enough attack to be among the top six strikers consistently.

It sounds like a pick for hurricanes, right? I love Lynn Hutson and I think he’d be a great addition to the team, but like I said, he’s another Dom Vincent. Hurricanes have Scott Morrow too, and they may not want to add a pure offensive defensive lineup to their system. Again, I’d like Hutson to be a waiter for hurricanes because I feel he’s going to make hurricanes better at some point in his career.

If he’s available a little earlier and the Hurricanes feel he’s going to be the best possible player they can recruit, then yes, I can see them advance a little bit. The earliest I could think of doing that would be picking #45, though. These NHL teams usually let smaller defensive players fall because they are too few in the NHL, so Hutson will likely drop all the way to #60.

Jarvis is going to have a strong second year in the NHL, and I don’t see a sophomore slump as a major concern. It’s very difficult for a worker and very skilled in dealing with this kind of slack. Even if he’s slow to produce a few games, I can still see Jarvis creating scoring opportunities and making games in all three regions. It will only get better, especially at the age of twenty. 50-60 points is a pretty reasonable ceiling for him too. He has the potential to be a leading streak at the NHL level, which means he could be a 70-80+ point player in the future. We should naturally expect some progress, and with the level of talent on this list, I can see Jarvis hitting the 50 point mark with relative ease.

Now, I’m waiting to see how my sophomore year at Morrow goes. I think if his defense improves and he continues to shine offensively, we will see him sign with the Hurricanes at the end of the year. If he needs another year in the NCAA to keep improving at the end of it, that’s what it takes. Ultimately, we’re looking at a two- to three-year timeline for Morrow before we start thinking about seeing him in an NHL role.

I like the second question, too. The Hurricanes have been a hit in the second round over the years. Let’s take a look at their second-round picks since 2010, shall we? Since 2010, Hurricanes have recruited Justin Falk, Victor Rusk, Brooke McGinn, Alex Nedelijkovic, Sebastian Aho, Jan Kokkanen, Ito Lostarinen, Jack Drury and Pyotr Kochetkoff. Kuokkanen, Luostarinen and Rask may not be great, but they are all NHL players and that alone is impressive. This does not include players like Morrow, Koivunen, Heimosalmi, Gunler, Rees and Ponomarev, who all show real promise. Hurricanes do an excellent job of drafting in the second round for several reasons, in my opinion. They’re not shy about taking risks, as we’ve seen with the picks of Gunler, Aho, and Kochetkov. They take players with the highest possible height, which obviously can have some risks. Not every second round of picks since 2010 has gone, as have Mark Alt and Luke Martin, but the Hurricanes have a clear recipe for success. They also take in players with high levels of hockey feel, which for me is the biggest reason for success. If you can’t tackle the game at a high pace, you won’t make it to the NHL level. The Hurricanes know that and take players who can, that way it’s easier to transfer them to the NHL.

The earliest we can see Nikishin in North America is 2024 since when his KHL contract expires. He seems loyal to Spartak Moscow, so I imagine that terminating the contract would not be an option. On the bright side, Nikishin should be ready for the NHL by April 30, 2024. He already played in the KHL’s top four and spent a lot of his time in the top duo last season.

I already talked about Lynn Hutson, so let me give you another name. Marcus Nguyen is one of my favorite players from the WHL in this year’s draft, and I think he could be an influential player in the NHL if he’s developed right. He’s fast, incredibly smart, great at transformation, a fast food machine and a skill at the puck. I’ve seen a lot of growth from him this season and I think once he ramps up his role with Portland he will show flashes of elite potential. Purely on his skill, he’s one of the most exciting players I’ve seen this year. It is smaller and there is no guarantee that it will reach that upside, which is why I describe it as a boom or a crash potential. He’s a perfect late pick because he has the NHL gear.

That’s all I have, folks. I’ll have a lot of other stuff coming up near the draft, besides draft scores, pick by pick analysis and more after that.