Hurricanes fall 2007 junior update

By Cory Lavalette

Carolina has seven prospects currently playing the CHL. The Hurricanes have seen much of what was expected from their most recent first-round pick, Brandon Sutter, but maybe the biggest news comes from elsewhere in the WHL, where 2007 third-rounder Drayson Bowman has been among the most productive players in junior hockey.

WHL

Drayson Bowman, C — Spokane Chiefs
Acquired: 3rd round, 72nd overall, 2007

The most pleasant surprise for the Hurricanes and their fans on the prospect front this season has been the play of third-round pick Bowman. Bowman got off to a blazing start for the Chiefs, notching five goals and two assists in the team’s first three games, and hasn’t slowed.

Through Dec. 3, Bowman is tied for second in WHL scoring with 45 points on 25 goals and 20 assists. The 25 goals are tied for first in the league with another 2007 draft pick, Chilliwack’s Oscar Moller. Bowman’s play has been a big part of Spokane’s success, as the Chiefs sit atop the WHL standings with a 21-4-1-2 record for 45 points.

Bowman has played his best hockey as of late, winning back-to-back WHL and CHL player of the week honors in mid-November en route to being named WHL Player of the Month. During November, Bowman had 13 goals and 11 assists with plus/minus of plus-16. He is at the top of the WHL in game-winning goals (seven), power play goals (10) and second in plus/minus (plus-26) and first goals (five). He’s had two hat tricks this season, three four-point games and a five-point game.

Despite his breakthrough season, Bowman was passed over for Team USA’s World Junior squad.

Justin McCrae, C — Saskatoon Blades
Acquired: 4th round, 102nd overall, 2007

McCrae and the Blades have struggled thus far this season, residing with the cellar-dwellers of the WHL’s Eastern Conference. McCrae — who is probably best known for his defensive play — has eight goals and 10 assists in 29 games with Saskatoon but, like most of the Blades, is on the wrong side of the plus/minus scale at minus-13.

While he is at minus-13, McCrae is tied for third in the WHL in shorthanded goals with two. He had his best game of the season in the Blades’ third game, a two-goal, two-assist effort is Saskatoon’s 5-4 win over Moose Jaw Sept. 26, notching both a power play and shorthanded goal in the game. McCrae has two other multi-point games on the season.

Brandon Sutter, C — Red Deer
Acquired: 1st round, 11th overall, 2007

Sutter has picked up where he left off last season, providing the Rebels with solid two-way play, grit and occasional point production. The difference is, this year’s team is toiling at the bottom of the Eastern Conference while rebuilding with younger players.

For his part, Sutter is putting up comparable numbers, posting nine goals and 11 assists through 29 games, a better goal-scoring pace than his previous junior seasons, but less points per game. Still, he leads Red Deer in points and, at even, is one of few Rebels not on the negative side of the plus/minus ledger. He was also recently named Red Deer captain for the remainder of the season. He has five multi-point games so far this year, including Red Deer’s two lone goals — and only shootout conversion — in a 3-2 shootout loss to Chilliwack Nov. 9.

Sutter was among 37 players invited to Canada’s World Juniors Selection Camp and will likely make the final roster and again
represent his country.

OHL

Brett Bellemore, D — Plymouth
Acquired: 6th round, 162 overall, 2007

The big defenseman has had his best offensive season to date with Plymouth despite missing the first 12 games of the season recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

Bellemore already has three goals and six assists in 15 games — his nine points are tops among Whalers blueliners — after notching just 12 assists in 50 games last year and no points in 46 games in 2005-06. Bellemore has two two-point games on the year, notching a goal and an assist on both Nov. 1 against Niagara and Nov. 11 versus Guelph.

While he has improved his offensive numbers, Bellemore is still mostly a stay-at-home defenseman who can drop the gloves when needed, which he’s done twice this season. Despite losing several major contributors from last season, Plymouth is still a respectable fifth in the OHL’s Western Conference at 16-8-1-2.

Harrison Reed, RW — Guelph

Acquired: 3rd round, 93rd overall, 2006

The continued growth of Reed was one of the most anticipated plots of the preseason after the winger contributed a surprising 81 points and 29 goals last year for an improved Sarnia squad. But after scoring just six goals and 18 points in 28 games, Reed was dealt to Guelph — along with a conditional pick — for disgruntled forward Jamie Arniel, who had left the Storm in recent weeks.

So Reed will now look to turn around his season with Guelph, who has fallen in the standings thanks to a current 10-game losing streak, including a 5-4 shootout loss to Erie in Reed’s first game with the Storm. Reed was pointless and a minus-2. He has only one assist in his past seven games and hasn’t scored since Nov. 15.

Chris Terry, C — Plymouth
Acquired: 5th round, 132nd overall, 2007

Terry is having his most productive goal-scoring season, netting 18 goals in 27 games. His 47 points are tops on the Whalers, which lost its top-two scorers (Evan Brophy and James Neal) from last season’s Memorial Cup tournament team and needed Terry and others to fill the void this year. Along with Andrew Fournier, Terry is co-captaining — and leading — the defending OHL champions into the playoff mix.

His 29 assists puts him in a seventh-place tie in the OHL and his 18 goals ties him for 10th in the league. Terry’s 14 power-play assists tie him for 16th in the OHL, while his three shorthanded markers are tied for third in the league and his plus-17 are good for a tie for seventh.

Terry has had 16 multi-point games this season, including two four-point games  — one a three-goal, one-assist effort against London Nov. 17 in which Terry and Fournier netted shootout goals for the win — and four three-point efforts.

QMJHL

Stefan Chaput, C —Lewiston
Acquired: 5th round, 153rd overall, 2006

Chaput’s season started out with disappointment when the center was forced to miss the Hurricanes’ prospect camp and Lewiston’s first five games due to surgery for an undisclosed injury.

Teamed with fellow early season absentee Stefano Giliati, Chaput has rebounded and is scoring at a point-per-game pace, not to mention contributing solid all-around play. Through 27 games, Chaput has 14 goals and 15 assists for 29 points, second on the MAINEiacs to fellow top-liner Giliati, putting him on pace to top the 48 and 46 points he put up the last two seasons.

Lewiston stands fourth in the Eastern Division at 18-12-1-1.