Welcome to the 2019-2020 Canes Prospects Awards! About a week or two ago, I asked Canes fans to provide their choices for a handful of different awards, including Forward of the Year, Defenseman of the Year, Most Improved, and Prospect of the Year! Here are your winners of the awards!
Forward of the Year
Morgan Geekie has been voted as the Forward of the Year for all Hurricanes prospects, receiving nearly 40% of the votes! This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise given his success at the AHL level and his “better than Wayne Gretzky” NHL stint. Geekie’s second professional season was trending towards a career year, and the forward likely would have stayed in the Hurricanes’ lineup if the season did not get suspended. Geekie had 42 points in 55 games for the Charlotte Checkers before the pause and was third on the team in scoring behind Jake Bean and Steven Lorentz.
Finishing second in voting with a third of the overall votes was 2018 second round pick Jack Drury. Drury had 20 goals and 39 points in 28 games for Harvard before his season was ended due to COVID-19, and he still had a few games remaining. During his sophomore season, Drury set career highs in all categories and finished with 15 more points than his freshman season in four less games. Drury was named to the NCAA All-USCHO second team, the ECAC second all-star team, and the All-Ivy League second team.
Steven Lorentz, Luke Henman, David Cotton, Blake Murray, Kirill Slepets, and Ryan Suzuki all received votes as well. It’s hard to pick just one player to vote for, given that the Hurricanes had plenty of prospects perform at elite levels this season. Steven Lorentz had a fantastic season and finished second in scoring for the Checkers, Luke Henman led his team in scoring on their way to a first place finish in their division, David Cotton captained Boston College to what could very well have been a Frozen Four appearance, Blake Murray had a career year, and more.
For the sake of the poll’s integrity, I did not vote in this poll. If I were to give my top three choices, it would be these three players: Steven Lorentz, Morgan Geekie, and Jack Drury.
Defenseman of the Year
2016 first round pick Jake “Josh” Bean is your Defenseman of the Year, receiving over 50% of the votes! Bean led the Charlotte Checkers in scoring with 48 points and was the highest scoring defenseman in the AHL before the season was suspended. Despite Charlotte’s slow start, Bean was consistently the team’s best defenseman and a contributor in any situation that he was put in. Bean has grown into a great two way prospect and could see some NHL time next season. Jake Bean was an AHL All Star this season, leading Charlotte in both points and assists.
Domenick Fensore has some fans out there as well, because the Canes’ 2019 third round pick finished with nearly 38% of the votes. Fensore finished with 16 points in 34 games and was Boston University’s second highest scoring defenseman. Other defensemen receiving votes were Jesper Sellgren and Anttoni Honka!
My top three would have been Jake Bean, Jesper Sellgren, and Anttoni Honka. Fensore would have come close, but I think that Honka’s performance at the men’s level this season warrants the number three spot. He was excellent after the WJC and was playing some of his best hockey when his season was cancelled.
We have a tie for the most improved prospect of the season! Steven Lorentz and Domenick Fensore win this award due to their play this season. In his first full AHL season, Lorentz finished second on the team in scoring with 46 points and looks like a legitimate NHL energy forward. His skating, speed, and overall play improved tremendously this season, and it led to a massive increase in production. We’ve already talked about Fensore a bit, but it shouldn’t go unnoticed that he had a seamless transition to the NCAA and was one of the best defensemen on a struggling team.
There were a handful of other players that received votes: Geekie, Henman, Bokk, Drury, Murray, Puistola, Bean, and Slepets. You could make an argument for every player on this list based on their performances this season. That just goes to show how great this team’s prospect depth is! I would have made Steven Lorentz my choice for most improved. Lorentz’s point totals are obviously fantastic, but I saw growth in every aspect of his game throughout the season. We saw flashes of it during the AHL playoffs last season, but this year was his coming out party. Lorentz was a threat in every situation, particularly on the penalty kill. It was impressive watching him give opponents hell and convert turnovers into scoring chances. His tenacity and grit would make him a Rod Brind’Amour favorite, in my opinion.
Prospect of the Year
Your 2019-2020 Prospect of the Year is Morgan Geekie! Geekie received over a third of the votes on his way to being named our Prospect of the Year. Geekie’s accomplishments are impressive and he should be a Hurricane for a long time. Geekie, Lorentz, and Bean would have been my picks for Prospect of the Year, in no particular order. All three players had phenomenal AHL seasons and, despite a lot of change in the roster, helped to carry Charlotte to a successful season.
Which Prospect Are Fans Excited About the Most?
Judging by the poll, Canes fans are the most excited to see Jake Bean, Morgan Geekie, Dominik Bokk, and Domenick Fensore in the NHL. Geekie understandably has a lot of hype surrounding him considering how great he looked in his first two NHL games. Jake Bean had a phenomenal season and was a first round pick, so there’s naturally going to be a lot of hype surrounding him as well! Bokk makes a lot of sense as well considering that the Hurricanes traded for him this summer and he has the tendency to be a flashy player. Bokk’s WJC was nothing short of impressive, and his performance in the SHL afterwards was almost as impressive. It’ll still be a while before we see both Bokk and Fensore at the NHL level, but both players are elite prospects and could make a huge impact at the NHL level.
Which other players are Canes fans excited about? Players such as Patrik Puistola, Pyotr Kochetkov, Ryan Suzuki, Steven Lorentz, Jamieson Rees, Luke Henman, and Anttoni Honka all received at least one vote. I understand why we’d see all sorts of players receiving votes here. The Hurricanes have plenty of exciting prospects at every position, and it’s hard to pick just one! As for me, the player that I’m the most excited to watch in the NHL has to be Dominik Bokk. The Hurricanes could always use another scoring right winger, and if he can adjust to the pro game and make the NHL roster, I could see Bokk putting up 20 goals a year. He’s such an exciting player and would electrify audiences.
There are your 2019-2020 Canes Prospect awards! This season has been a weird one and it’s unfortunate that it got cut short, but the Hurricanes’ farm system as a whole was impressive. I’m looking forward to the 2020 draft, whenever that happens, since the Hurricanes will be adding more prospects to an already impressive prospect pool. Until next season, everyone!