The Hurricanes are down a defenseman, and with the trade deadline approaching, they’re going to have to make a decision. All eyes are on Don Waddell to make a trade, although he does have the option to call up Jake Bean. Bean is currently leading the Checkers’ defensemen in scoring with 34 points. Bean has 27 assists and is one of the league’s best defensemen as a second year player. Bean may be a cheaper option than a deadline rental, so it’s possible that Bean could see some NHL time this year, but they may want someone that is a little better in the defensive zone. The only thing stopping Bean right now is the fact that the Hurricanes still have six healthy defensemen on the roster as of right now. It’s certainly something to keep an eye on in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline.
Other prospect news from the past few weeks involves Patrik Puistola. Puistola has been loaned to KooKoo in the Liiga for the rest of the 2019-2020 season. They’re a top four team in the league, same as Tappara, but at least they’re willing to give Puistola some top nine minutes. His contract with Tappara expires at the end of the season, and the rumor is that he’ll be signing with JYP and could play with Anttoni Honka. Again, it’s just rumors, but that’s a big move. Let’s get started on questions!
There are always going to be a few players that fly under the radar, especially in a pipeline as full as the Hurricanes’. It’s hard to pick one, so here are three that don’t get enough attention as of right now.
Domenick Fensore – He’s coming into his own with Boston University right now and has strung together a handful of great performances. Fensore’s skating, work ethic, and offensive abilities are bordering on elite level, but what’s been holding him back is his size and weak defensive play. It seems that his time at Boston University has helped his defensive game so far, and I believe that Fensore could be an excellent prospect for the Hurricanes in the future.
Matt Filipe – It’s another prospect from the NCAA, and I don’t think Filipe gets a whole lot of recognition for his strong play. He’s a great two way player and does a lot of little things right. He’ll draw penalties due to his quick skating and hard forecheck, which is a valuable asset. Filipe may not have top six potential, but he does have an NHL future.
Jesper Sellgren – He’s flying under the radar a little because he isn’t an offensive defenseman. Sellgren thrives in transition and can hold his own in the offensive zone, but I believe he’s more of a two way defenseman that fits the system perfectly. He’ll be able to join the rush and make a few plays happen and then skate back to cover on defense if something goes wrong. Sellgren will turn pro next season and will have two years remaining on his entry-level contract.
Out of all of our prospects, I’d have to say that three prospects are the closest to being impact players at the NHL level. Coincidentally, each player was picked in 2016. Jake Bean is having a monster season on the blue line and seems to be getting better with each passing game. His name has been tossed around a few times as far as a potential call up is concerned, and I think that we’ll see him very soon. Bean moves the puck like Gardiner does but isn’t prone to as many mistakes, and that’s a very high ceiling. Gardiner is a legitimate offensive defenseman and if Bean can be better, that’s fantastic for the Canes.
We’ve already seen Julien Gauthier in the NHL this season, but we’ve yet to see Gauthier in a role that suits him. He’s leading the Checkers in goals with 22 and has improved his skating and decision making tremendously this season. Gauthier is looking like a very good power forward that can fill in anywhere in your top nine. He likely makes the team out of camp next season barring anything drastic.
Janne Kuokkanen is another player that people don’t always consider because it feels like he’s been in the system for forever now. Kuokkanen has a lot of potential as an offensive forward, particularly when it comes to skating and passing ability. He’s not as dynamic as a player like Teravainen, but they both play a similar game. Kuokkanen is another player that could contend for a roster spot next year if it all works out. He and Geekie have been Charlotte’s best forwards for about a month or two.
Players that just missed the cut: Cotton, Geekie, Sellgren.
I had worked on an article talking about this in December, but as I was working on it, a bunch of scouts re-released their rankings. I got a little frustrated with myself, and if you couple that with finals, you get an article that is still sitting in the drafts just waiting to be published. Ah, what could have been.
There’s no surefire way to predict where the Canes are picking in June, so I’m using CapFriendly’s draft board feature for this. We have picks 19 and 20 on their draft board, so that’s where I’ll start!
Two players that I’d target at 19 and 20 are Zion Nybeck and Jean-Luc Foudy. Nybeck has elite offensive skills and could be a strong playmaker on the right wing for quite some time. He’s not the biggest forward, but as we’ve seen before, size isn’t an indicator of skill. Nybeck may be a bit of a reach at 19 or 20, but you’re thinking about long term value here. Foudy is another player that I’ve watched a few times this season, although it’s been a little while. He’s another quick skater that needs to bulk up a lot. Foudy makes a lot of spectacular plays with the puck and has dynamic skill as a playmaker, but there’s not a whole lot in his game that suggests that he can be a great goal scorer at the pro level. That’s a bit of a concern, but the raw talent is definitely there. You probably don’t want to pick both since they both play a similar game, though.
Even if Tom Dundon didn’t say that the Hurricanes weren’t selecting defensemen in the first round for a few years, I’d still be avoiding defensemen with our first round picks. None of the defensemen available around 19 and 20 seem like they’d be more than second pairing players, and you can draft more value by picking a forward. Wait until the second round to pick a defenseman because there are a handful of good ones projected to go around where the Canes will have their first of two second round picks.
Other players I’d consider are Jacob Perreault and Connor Zary. Zary may find his way into the top 15, so it’s possible that he’s not available. From what I’ve seen, he plays like Jamieson Rees and knows how to avoid suspensions. There’s value in that. Perreault is a natural goal scorer but his top speed isn’t as high as I’d like for it to be. He’s one of the better goal scorers in the draft, though, so you can live with the average skating while he works on it.
Unfortunately not. Smallman has yet to play in a full season since turning pro due to shoulder surgery and a torn ACL in back to back seasons. If he plays in one more game this season, it’ll be the most he’s played since turning pro. Smallman has an NHL skill set but needs playing time in order to reach his ceiling of being a bottom six forward. Smallman’s skill set is still raw and so I believe the Canes will let him play a full(ish) season in the AHL before considering a call up. It’s for the best anyways, Smallman still looks like he’s adjusting to the pace and skill level of the AHL. I’m always an advocate for keeping a player in the AHL for a little while longer if it means that they can get more ice time.