In part two of this five part series, we’ll examine the Hurricanes’ depth at left wing. If you missed part one, you can read my analysis of the Hurricanes’ center depth here.
Jacob Pritchard – Pritchard has split the season between Charlotte in the AHL and Greenville in the ECHL. While he’s struggled to find his footing in the pros, it was looking like he was starting to put things together before the season was suspended. Pritchard’s speed and power play production were impressive during his final year in the NCAA and earned him an NHL contract, but he hasn’t received any power play time as an AHL player just yet.
David Cotton – Cotton has signed a two year entry-level contract with the Hurricanes and brings a lot of skills to the table for the Hurricanes. He’s played center before, but has spent the majority of the past two or three seasons on the left wing for Boston College. Cotton is a power forward with a nose for the net, strong in his own end, and a tremendous leader. Cotton has shown that he has the potential to make an impact at the NHL level but will likely begin next season in the AHL.
Matt Filipe – Filipe is another prospect that can play center. He’s been used primarily on the wing for Northeastern and recently finished up his senior season. We’re still waiting on Filipe to sign a contract of some sorts, but for now, we’ll include him. Filipe is a strong defensive forward and was a big part of Northeastern’s penalty kill throughout his collegiate career. Filipe also boasts above average skating and physicality. He has all of the makings of a bottom six defensive forward, but we’ll have to see if he signs a contract.
Patrik Puistola – Puistola has middle six to top six upside and showcased some of those skills at the 2020 World Juniors. His goal scoring ability is evident if you watch him play, as his release is one of the best in terms of Finland’s players under 20. Puistola can be a net-front player and make an impact on your power play, he can be a goal scorer on the wing, and he can hold his own in the defensive zone. Puistola’s skating needs work, and I believe he could develop his hockey sense a bit more as well.
Max Zimmer – Zimmer is currently awaiting an NHL contract but has an amateur tryout with the Charlotte Checkers. Zimmer is a fast prospect that also has a nose for the net. Despite a rough four years at the University of Wisconsin, Zimmer has started to come into his own as a player. He showed flashes of brilliance when he wasn’t injured this past season.
The Hurricanes have some goal scoring talent with their pool of left wingers, that’s for sure. Cotton and Puistola could each score up to 20 goals at the NHL level, and Zimmer could be a productive goal scorer if given time to develop. There’s also a good amount of defensive strength with this group of wingers as well, with guys like Filipe and Cotton leading the way. Patrik Puistola’s two way game is above average and could improve with more ice time, as well.
The Hurricanes clearly do not have as many left wing prospects as they do center prospects, so depth is an issue. The Hurricanes already have plenty of left-handed forwards, but the fact that there are only five prospects in the system that are listed as left wingers shows a lack of depth. You could also argue that upside is a bit of a weakness, as Patrik Puistola is the best left winger prospect that the Hurricanes have. He could be a second line forward, he could be a middle six forward, and some scouts think that he won’t be an NHL player at all. Cotton is looking like a good third line winger for the Hurricanes and Filipe, if he signs, could be a great defensive winger on your fourth line. That’s about it, though, so the Hurricanes lack a surefire top left wing in the system.
The Hurricanes lack upside and depth at left wing in their system, so we could see the Hurricanes taking a handful of left wings in this draft. We could see the Hurricanes using one of their two second round picks on a left winger. Some players available around when the Canes will be picking include John-Jason Peterka, Jake Neighbours, Martin Chromiak, and perhaps Will Cuylle. All of these players could be impact players at the NHL level, so it would make sense for the Hurricanes to draft one of those players. Other than that, I don’t see the left wing as an issue for the Hurricanes in the future. There are some openings for prospects such as David Cotton to play in the NHL next season if the Hurricanes don’t make any earth-shattering moves. Their draft strategy will likely focus on what the team could look like four or more years from now as opposed to the present. That being said, it wouldn’t hurt to add another left winger.
I wouldn’t call the Hurricanes’ depth on the left wing a weakness since there are some good left wing prospects in the system. It’s nowhere near their strongest, and you could argue that it’s their weakest after Janne Kuokkanen’s departure. Still, the fact that the Canes could have two NHL left wingers is great for the future of this team. Whenever the draft takes place, I would imagine that the Hurricanes will look to add to their depth on the left wing.