In case you missed it, the Carolina Hurricanes have dealt Julien Gauthier to the New York Rangers in exchange for prospect Joey Keane. It’s a prospect-level transaction that gives Gauthier a better opportunity since there wasn’t a spot for him here. Keane is a solid two way defenseman that moves the puck incredibly well. Everyone that I’ve talked to has been high on Keane and his odds of making it into the NHL, even if he may not have second pairing upside. I know some folks are upset, but it’s not like the Hurricanes are trading Gauthier away for nothing. Let’s dive into your questions!
Update: Keane had two points in two games against Binghamton this weekend. Both points, a goal and an assist, came in the second game of the weekend. It looks as if Keane is making an immediate impact with his new team despite having to adjust to a new system and style of play.
In terms of potential, here’s how I’d rate our top five goalie prospects.
- Pyotr Kochetkov
- Alex Nedeljkovic
- Eetu Makiniemi
- Jeremy Helvig
- Jack LaFontaine
The Hurricanes have two goalies with legitimate NHL potential at the top of the list in Kochetkov and Nedeljkovic. Ned could be the backup for the Hurricanes as early as next season, and the only thing keeping him from occupying that #1 spot is his age. At 24 years old, Ned is quickly reaching his prime. He has arguably been ready for the NHL for about a year now, so hopefully he gets his opportunity soon. Kochetkov could be a starting goalie in the future, assuming he gets more playing time with Vityaz next year. That’ll help him develop and become better prepared for his future with the Hurricanes.
One player that has risen a lot this season is Eetu Makiniemi. He’s done well in Mestis (Finland’s second-tier league) and has been incredible in six Liiga starts so far this season. It’s a small sample size at the Liiga level, but his stock has certainly risen a bit. If he continues to perform well this season, it’s possible that he’ll become Ilves’ starter next year. That could boost him up further and potentially earn him an NHL contract. His ceiling may be a backup goalie right now, but with how he’s been performing, it’s possible that he has more to offer than just that.
After that, it drops off a bit. The Hurricanes have four other goalie prospects in the system (Booth, Helvig, LaFontaine, Kucharski) and it’s tough to tell if they’ll be NHL goalies someday. Helvig could make his way up to the AHL next season, but with one year left on his ELC, it may be do or die for him next year. LaFontaine has been better but streaky with the University of Minnesota this year. He does have one year remaining at the school, but he’ll need a hell of a season in order to impress the Canes’ management.
After Saturday’s Canes game against Toronto, the Hurricanes have made some roster moves. Nedeljkovic and Forsberg are up with the Hurricanes and Booth and Helvig are up with the Checkers. Assuming there’s no goalie trade, we might see these tandems for a little while. If there is a goalie trade, my guess is that we see Nedeljkovic sent down since he does not require waivers.
The Skjei acquisition made me wonder if Jake Bean was a part of the package involved, but that’s not the case. Bean is still in the system, which makes me think that the Hurricanes are high on Bean and his chances of making it into the NHL. After all, he’s having a phenomenal season and seems to be improving with every game. I think that what we do this off-season will be very telling as far as Bean’s future is concerned. The Hurricanes have Skjei, Pesce, Hamilton, Slavin, and Gardiner under contract for next season. That leaves one spot remaining for Fleury, Edmundson, Bean, van Riemsdyk, and Vatanen. Bean is the only one of these players under contract for next season at this point in time, too. So it really comes down to who the Hurricanes decide to part ways with. It does make Jake Bean’s future with the team a little more uncertain, but I believe that if the Hurricanes didn’t see him as a part of the team’s future, they would have traded him. I also believe that the Hurricanes would have tried to trade away one of their pending UFA defensemen if Brett Pesce didn’t get hurt on Saturday. I know that this isn’t much of an answer, but we’ll have to wait until closer to the draft and free agency to see what happens with the Canes.
Without a doubt. The Hurricanes may have given up a few of their good AHL prospects, but their junior pipeline remains as strong as ever and they’ll be getting some key additions to the AHL roster before next season. The Canes traded away one top ten prospect today, Janne Kuokkanen, and he would come in around nine or ten if I were to rank them. Gauthier is another prospect in the top ten, but Joey Keane would also be close to the top ten in our system. If you’re feeling a bit uneasy about our prospect depth now, let me list out who is remaining in the system.
Bishop, Mattheos, Geekie, Pritchard, Lorentz, Smallman, McKeown, Keane, Kaski, Bean, Booth, Helvig. That’s just in the AHL. Still not convinced? Here are our junior prospects. Bokk, Suzuki, Drury, Rees, Filipe, Puistola, Henman, Zimmer, Killinen, Tieksola, Stevens, Slepets, Wall, Cotton, Murray, Rizzo, Martin, Honka, Fensore, Webber, Sellgren, Rasanen, Kochetkov, Lafontaine, Makiniemi, Kucharski.
Those are all of the prospects remaining in the system. The Carolina Hurricanes still have a fantastic pool of prospects and will for a long time.
Zach replied to this and wants to know about our NHL ready forward prospects. As of right now, the Hurricanes have three prospects playing for Charlotte that are the most ready for the NHL out of our forwards. Steven Lorentz plays a gritty game that fits Rod Brind’Amour’s system perfectly. It’s possible that he’s only a fourth line forward in the NHL, but his work ethic and compete level are exactly what you’d want in a player coming up to the NHL. One other prospect in a similar situation is Clark Bishop, who has appeared in 25 regular season NHL games over the span of two years. Both players have fourth line upside. The other is Morgan Geekie, who has put together a very fine sophomore season in the AHL. Geekie has top nine upside, so it’s possible that he takes a little longer to make it to the NHL, but he’s getting close to that level.
I know you didn’t ask, but the Canes have McKeown, Bean, and Keane on the back end as players that I could see being close to NHL ready.
In all honesty, I couldn’t tell you much about the transition from the ECHL to the AHL other than what you all probably know. The ECHL is a tough league, but it’s nowhere near as competitive as the AHL in terms of talent. The ECHL is a good league to send your long-term prospects so that they can work their way up to a better league. The ECHL has come a long way from where it once was and I believe that it could become more of a developmental league in the future. As of right now, it’s a big leap to the AHL because of the AHL having a much higher level of competition.
That’s it for this mailbag! The trade deadline is over, and so now I think that I will go and take a nap for a couple of days to recover from all of this stress. Thank you all for reading!