On May 28th, the Carolina Hurricanes announced that they had signed defenseman Jesper Sellgren to an ELC. The 5’11”, 170 pound native of Ornskoldsvik, Sweden was selected in the sixth round, 166th overall in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft as a 20 year old. Sellgren was passed up in two previous drafts before the Hurricanes drafted him, and it looks to be a great pick. After spending the 2017-2018 season with MODO Hockey in the Swedish second-tier league, Sellgren was given a promotion to the SHL. He played in 52 regular season games and ten playoff games with Lulea, one of the top teams in Sweden. Sellgren was a part of one of the top five penalty kills in the entire SHL and was a big part of a defensive core that was top three in goals allowed. Sellgren had a career high fifteen points this season and added six more points in ten playoff games. He is currently on a tryout with the Charlotte Checkers and has scored twice in seven games with the Checkers.
Two days later, the Hurricanes announced that they had signed their 2017 second round pick, Eetu Luostarinen, to a three year ELC. Luostarinen was selected 42nd overall as an overage player after spending most of his Draft +1 season in Liiga, the Finnish elite league. Luostarinen’s next season saw him improve on those point totals, but his biggest season of growth was the 2018-2019 season. Towards the end of the 2017-2018 season, Luostarinen was given more ice time and grew. This past season, Luostarinen was almost never taken off of one of the top two lines for KalPa and set career highs in goals, assists, and points. The tall two-way forward had fifteen goals and 36 points in 54 games this season and was second on the team in scoring. He then went to play for Finland at the World Championships. Luostarinen played on the third line for four games until injuring his knee and missing rest of the tournament.
With Sellgren, the Hurricanes are getting a quick defenseman who is exceptional in his own end. He’s a smart player that rarely makes mistakes and uses his great skating ability to make up for his lack of reach in the defensive zone. He’s not afraid to get involved offensively, either. He’ll join the rush, carry the puck into the offensive zone, and even crash the net. Sellgren has looked right at home in the AHL and has earned praises from Checkers broadcaster Jason Shaya as well as head coach Mike Vellucci. Both seem to think that he has a role in the NHL ahead of him, and both people know their stuff.
Luostarinen’s skill set is intriguing. He’s a big forward that still has some filling out to do. He’s much quicker than he was two years ago, but those first couple of strides will need to be improved during his time in the AHL. Luostarinen isn’t afraid to battle for the puck or to play physically, which will set him up for success in the AHL and beyond. He has a great shot and is skilled with the puck. His strength is probably one of his best assets. There isn’t a lot of flair to his game, but the way he plays makes it easier for his teammates to adapt around him. It’s a simple, yet effective style of play. Luostarinen has NHL potential and will likely be a solid third line forward for the Hurricanes in a couple of years. He’ll need to adjust to the pace of the AHL, which is normal for a lot of prospects.
I have no doubt in my mind that both of these players will have a positive impact on whichever team they end up on next season. Calvin de Haan’s injury has opened up a roster spot for the first couple of months of the 2019-2020 season, and I think that Jake Bean and Jesper Sellgren will both be fighting for that spot. Regardless, the Hurricanes’ prospect pipeline added two big pieces that can contribute right away this week. It just goes to show how deep this team is right now and how deep they’ll continue to be for years to come.