Prospects Mailbag: Now We Wait

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We’re playing the waiting game now, and with (hopefully) a little over a month until the draft, Canes fans won’t have to wait long to meet their new class of prospects. The Hurricanes hold the 13th overall pick, which gives them the opportunity to draft a player that could immediately become the team’s top prospect. Recently, I’ve been receiving a lot of questions from Canes fans about all sorts of different prospects, and so I figured that I would compile all of your questions into one big article instead of filling your timeline with threads. Here, I’m not confined to 280 characters!

While I was writing this, we got this little piece of news.

I mean…we all knew this was happening, right?

Bokk’s contract with SHL club Rogle ended once the SHL season was cancelled, so he no longer has an SHL contract. Since he’s already on an entry-level contract with the Hurricanes, he’s free to join either the NHL team or the team’s AHL affiliate whenever those leagues resume. Under normal circumstances, Bokk would begin his North American professional career this season, but we’re not exactly experiencing a normal world right now. Plenty of teams are loaning players to Europe until NHL training camps get underway, and I’m surprised that the Hurricanes aren’t sending Bokk back to Sweden for a little bit. They loaned Sellgren to Frolunda for the whole season, after all. Obviously there is still time for the Hurricanes to loan Bokk elsewhere, but it’s possible that he doesn’t want to play in Sweden right now. He could want to wait until training camp and then start his season in the NHL or AHL. My gut tells me that Bokk will be an AHL player this season, although with how well he performed in Sweden after the World Juniors, I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets an extended look in camp with the Hurricanes.

Roland McKeown is currently one half of the NXT tag team champions, so I’d say that he’s doing fairly well for himself.

The bit lives on…for now.

In all seriousness, I don’t know what’s next for McKeown. I want to see him stay in the system because he’s a great leader and did an excellent job as the captain of the Checkers this past season. My heart wants him to stay, but my brain is telling me that McKeown will want to go somewhere that will give him a shot at the NHL. As of right now, it’s not looking like the Hurricanes will be able to provide him with that opportunity.

Joey Keane had a great rookie season in the AHL, and while I think he’ll get a look in training camp, I think he’ll be sent down to Charlotte for another year during the 2020-2021 season. Keane could benefit from some extra time in the AHL so that he can continue to improve defensively, making the transition to the NHL all the more smoother for him. I’d say that his best shot at making the roster will be in the fall of 2021 since the Hurricanes will more than likely lose a defenseman in the expansion draft. His offensive game is close to NHL ready, he just needs to polish and round out his game before he’s a full-time NHLer. I could definitely see him contending for a roster spot next fall.

I do think that Suzuki fills a need in the top six, but I’m not sure that he’ll fill that need in the next year or two. Suzuki is going to take some time to adjust to the pace and physicality of the pros, so it may mean that we’ll be waiting another two years before we start to see him in contention for a roster spot. That’s fine with me, though. The Hurricanes don’t need Suzuki to be NHL ready right away since they have three or four capable top nine centers on their roster right now. Aho is obviously your number one center, then you have Trocheck, then Staal. Necas is capable of playing center, although I’m fine with keeping him on the wing. He’s allowed to be more creative on the wing and can use his elite speed to his advantage. You also have Morgan Geekie, who could be a top nine center in a year’s time. This creates the perfect environment for the Hurricanes as far as Suzuki’s development is concerned, in my opinion. You have a prospect with loads of offensive talent that happens to need a year or two to develop in the AHL. With the Hurricanes’ current center depth, they’re able to let Suzuki develop at his own pace in the AHL as opposed to rushing him to the show a la Elias Lindholm.

Bokk could be in the lineup as early as the start of the 2021-2022 season, but that’s contingent on whether or not the AHL goes forward with their return to play plan. If there are some hiccups along the way, then I may push that back a year. He’s likely going to need a full AHL season under his belt so that he can grow his confidence and continue to improve on the physical side of the game.

As far as Bokk’s potential impact in the lineup, you’re looking at a player with one on one skills out the wazoo. He’s not going to have Brayden Point levels of hands and one on one absurdity, but there’s an element to Bokk’s game that allows for him to make opposing defenders look silly. He has the ability to create offense out of nothing, whether that’s with a pass that threads the needle, a deke that creates space in an otherwise tight situation, or a shot with pinpoint accuracy to beat the goalie.

This is just a small example. Obviously he’s given plenty of space to work with by the Czech defender in front, but look at all of those other red jerseys around him. That’s an example of his hands creating offensive opportunities in one on one situations, now here’s an example of his shot.

I mean, come on. That goalie has a family.

I almost don’t want to mention Yaroslav Askarov because the Hurricanes could definitely use a franchise goalie in their system. Sure, they already have Pyotr Kochetkov in the system. Askarov would instantly become the best goalie prospect in the system and could very well be the Hurricanes’ best prospect in the system overall. So yeah, that’s an enticing option.

Jack Quinn is another name that has been tossed around, and it seems like he could be a fit here. On top of being a right handed shot, he’s a draft eligible skater that scored over 50 goals in his first go-around in the draft during a shortened season. There’s a lot to like about Jack Quinn and his offensive skills, and from the reports I’ve read, it seems like he’s fairly responsible in his own end as well.

It’s hard to pick a third player here because I don’t know how the draft is going to shake out. It’s not likely that the Hurricanes will select a defenseman, so that rules out a guy like Schneider or Guhle. Maybe Dawson Mercer is a fit? After all, this is another right-handed player that made Canada’s WJC team at 17 years old. He’s not as dangerous of a goal scorer as Quinn, but there’s no denying his ability to impact the game in all three zones. I’m still working on my draft prep, so I don’t fully have a grasp on which players the Hurricanes should be targeting yet.

That’s all for this one! Thank you to everyone who submitted a question this time around. Hopefully we’ll have an official announcement on the Hurricanes’ AHL affiliate the next time we decide to do one of these. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for my top five draft choices for the Hurricanes as well as a mock draft collaboration with two other writers!

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