Top 20 at a glance
1. Brandon Sutter, C, 7.5B
2. Drayson Bowman, C, 7.5C
3. Zach Boychuk, C, 7.5C
4. Jamie McBain, D, 7B
5. Casey Borer, D, 7C
6. Zac Dalpe, C, 7C
7. Bobby Hughes, C, 7C
8. Brett Carson, D, 7C
9. Kyle Lawson, D, 7C
10. Chris Terry, C, 6.5B
11. Harrison Reed, RW, 6.5B
12. Nick Dodge, C, 6.5C
13. Justin Peters, G, 6.5D
14. Mark Flood, D, 6.5D
15. Michal Jordan, D, 6C
16. Justin McCrae, C, 6C
17. Jerome Samson, RW, 6D
18. Stefan Chaput, C, 6D
19. Mike Murphy, G, 5.5C
20. Jakub Petruzalek, RW, 5.5D
Carolina’s prospect depth has made huge strides in the past few seasons. The team’s top picks seem to be headed in the right direction and some later round selections have produced beyond expectations. The three top prospects are out of the WHL.
1. (1) Brandon Sutter, C • 7.5B
Height: 6’3 • Weight: 174 • Age: 19
Sutter holds on to the top spot in Carolina’s prospect rankings, but this will likely be the final time. Sutter is earmarked for the NHL this year, penciled in as the Canes fourth-line center. As the latest tenacious player in a long line of Sutters, Brandon is considered one of the least risky prospects in all of hockey. While he will likely never be an elite goal scorer, his hockey smarts, determination and bloodlines have most NHL minds calling him a sure-fire third-line pivot, with the potential to become a top-six forward. Sutter has a year of eligibility remaining in Red Deer if the Canes want to reassign him to the WHL.
2. (2) Drayson Bowman, C • 7.5C
Height: 6’1 • Weight: 185 • Age: 19
When Bowman came to the Hurricanes’ training camp prior to the 2007-08 season, everyone immediately perceived that they were witnessing a potential draft steal. Bowman’s shot was considered on par with many of the team’s established NHLers, and when he was sent back to the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs there was a buzz surrounding the team’s third-round pick. Fast-forward to season’s end and Bowman had completed a 40-goal regular season and was the top point-producer on a Memorial Cup champion. Bowman was rewarded with an entry-level contract, but with the glut of forwards on Carolina’s roster, it will take an Eric Staal-like preseason to make the squad. Bowman is likely headed back to Spokane to help the Chiefs defend the Memorial Cup.
3. (NR) Zach Boychuk, C • 7.5C
Height: 5’9 • Weight: 175 • Age: 18
The Canes made Boychuk their top pick (14th overall) in this year’s draft and he’s neck and neck with Sutter and Bowman at the top of Carolina’s prospect rankings. Boychuk is the Hurricanes’ speediest prospect, and his two 30-goal seasons in the tight-checking WHL show how dynamic a scorer he can be. The one concern with Boychuk was a wrist injury that ended up requiring surgery following Carolina’s prospect camp. But recovery has gone faster than expected, and Boychuk is expected to be in camp with the Hurricanes — though probably won’t be shooting at all — and be ready to start the season with Lethbridge.
4. (2) Jamie McBain, D • 7B
Height: 6’2 • Weight: 197 • Age: 20
Through no fault of his own, McBain falls two spots from the fall rankings. It’s easy to forget that McBain has only two seasons at the University of Wisconsin under his belt because he has shouldered responsibility beyond his years with the Badgers. McBain exhibited his talents at Carolina’s prospect camp — a combination of size and skill that every NHL team craves. He will return to Wisconsin for his junior season.
5. (4) Casey Borer, D • 7C
Height: 6’2 • Weight: 205 • 22
Borer impressed in his 11 games with Carolina last year and remains one of the Canes’ best defensive prospects. Like McBain, Borer has adequate NHL size and the puck skills needed to be successful in the new NHL. Borer’s 2007-08 season was cut short by a knee injury, and with the acquisition of Joni Pitkanen and Josef Melichar, coupled with the return of Anton Babchuk from Russia, he will likely spend one more season in Albany. If healthy, he will be a top candidate to be called up to Raleigh.
6. (NR) Zac Dalpe, C • 7C
Height: 6’0 • Weight: 170 • Age: 18
While Dalpe played in lower-level Junior A last season, his dominant performance at the World Junior A Challenge put his name on the prospect map, and his 27 goals and 36 assists for the season with Penticon cemented his status as a high draft pick in Ottawa. But he tumbled into the middle of the second round, and the Hurricanes were more than happy to snap up the swift forward. Dalpe turned down a contract from Carolina — and an OHL career in Plymouth — to go the NCAA route at Ohio State this season.
7. (5) Bobby Hughes, C • 7C
Height: 5’10 • Weight: 180 • Age: 20
When healthy, Hughes is a goal scorer with the skill to be an NHL sniper. But in his first pro season with Albany, injuries derailed Hughes’ promising potential. A mysterious neck and back injury had some questioning whether Hughes would even be able return to the ice, let alone live up to the high expectations placed upon him. Still, Hughes’ talent is hard to ignore and if he can get back on track with Albany he has a bright future.
8. (6) Brett Carson, D • 7C
Height: 6’4 • Weight: 220 • Age: 22
Carson is the biggest of Carolina’s top blueline prospects. He was able to hold up and play 77 games for Albany last year in a season when both the Hurricanes and the River Rats were bitten by the injury bug. He combined his defensive play with some offensive contributions, and with Borer recovering from knee surgery, Carson could be the top candidate for an early season promotion if the Canes need more bodies on the back end.
9. (7) Kyle Lawson, D • 7C
Height: 5’11 • Weight: 207 • Age: 21
Lawson, like McBain, was asked to do a lot early, filling a vital role on the Notre Dame blueline as a freshman and emerging as a leader in his sophomore year. Furthermore, Lawson got a taste of NCAA glory, helping the Irish to the championship game at the Frozen Four. Unfortunately for Lawson and his teammates, they were defeated by Boston College in the title game, but the experience gained should be beneficial to the young defenseman.
10. (11) Chris Terry, C • 6.5B
Height: 5’10 • Weight: 187 • Age: 19
In a year when the Plymouth Whalers were supposed to be down, Terry lifted them up. His 101 points in 68 games were far and away the best on the Whalers and an eye opener for anyone who looked at him as just another fifth-round pick. His 44 goals doubled his total from the year before and he is a strong candidate to climb the prospect rankings if he can build on his 2007-08 campaign with Plymouth this year.
11. (8) Harrison Reed, RW • 6.5B
Height: 6’1 • Weight: 175 • Age: 20
Reed’s tumble down the rankings (fourth at this time last year) continues due to his setback season. His goals dropped from 26 and 29 in 2005-06 and 2006-07, respectively, to just 14 combined with Sarnia and Guelph last year. But perhaps Reed will get a boost of confidence after signing his entry-level deal in May and regain his scoring touch. If not, he can expect to fall further. He should start the season in Albany.
12. (10) Nick Dodge, RW • 6.5C
Height: 5’10 • Weight 184 • Age: 22
Dodge has slipped some in the rankings, but mostly because Carolina has plugged more talent into their prospect ranks. Still, his points were down some in his senior season at Clarkson, casting some doubt on his NHL potential. That being said, Dodge’s path to the NHL will be made on the intangibles he brings to the ice: defensive zone play, faceoff ability, leadership and determination. Dodge will play in Albany this season.
13. (9) Justin Peters, G • 6.5D
Height: 6’1 • Weight: 213 • Age: 21
A year ago, Peters was the No. 2 prospect on the Canes list. And while Peters was an All-Star last year, it was in the ECHL with the Florida Everblades. This year will be a big year for Peters, as he will be battling fellow prospect Daniel Manzato for the starting job in Albany. Winning the River Rats’ No. 1 job and putting together a solid season could re-establish him as a legitimate prospect.
14. (14) Mark Flood, D • 6.5D
Height: 6’1 • Weight: 190 • Age: 23
Flood had his best pro season last year, scoring 10 goals and adding 12 assists in just 53 games last year with Albany. But his season was cut short by a shoulder injury and some of the Hurricanes younger prospects continue to make steps toward pro careers. Flood could earn a promotion to Carolina in a pinch, but he seems destined to have another full season in the AHL.
15. (NR) Michal Jordan, D • 6C
Height: 6’1 • Weight: 184 • Age: 18
Jordan’s first season in major junior was considered a disappointment by many OHL onlookers, but the Hurricanes were impressed enough to select the Plymouth blueliner in the fourth round. Carolina will have the benefit of watching Jordan closely with the Whalers — who are also the property of Canes owner Peter Karmanos — and get him the guidance and training they want.
16. (15) Justin McCrae, C • 6C
Height: 6’0 • Weight: 182 • Age: 19
McCrae’s leadership skills -— he started 2007-08 as Saskatoon’s captain — made him a valuable asset to Memorial Cup champion Spokane. His point production over his WHL career hasn’t been stellar, but there is always a place in the pros for a player who does all the right things on and off the ice. Spokane will be counting on more solid play from McCrae as the Chiefs try to defend their title.
17. (16) Jerome Samson, RW • 6D
Height: 5’11 • Weight: 185 • Age: 20
Samson was a surprise 21-goal scorer for the River Rats last season in his first pro season. As an undrafted free agent, Samson surely produced more than expected. As one of the few natural right wingers in the Hurricanes’ system, Samson could move up the rankings if he builds on last season’s performance.
18. (17) Stefan Chaput, C • 6D
Height: 5’11 • Weight: 185 • Age: 20
Chaput’s breakthrough year with Lewiston was a pleasant surprise for the Hurricanes. His 33 goals were just five shy of his combined total from his previous three seasons with the MAINEiacs. Add to that his hard-working demeanor, and Chaput’s progression is a promising development. Chaput will start his first pro season this year with Albany.
19. (NR) Mike Murphy, G • 5.5C
Height: 5’11 • Weight: 140 • Age: 19
Most sixth-round selections don’t make it to the NHL, but the Canes’ selection of Murphy was mentioned by many as a possible late-round steal from this year’s draft. If the unorthodox goalie continues to prove his doubters wrong by doing anything and everything to stop the puck for Belleville, he could find himself much higher on this list in the future.
20. (18) Jakub Petruzalek, RW • 5.5D
Height: 5’10 • Weight: 176 • Age: 23
Petruzalek picked up his play at both ends of the ice in his second season in Albany, increasing his scoring and earning key defensive assignments from then-coach Tom Rowe. With Rowe promoted to an assistant’s job in Carolina, Petruzalek will need to show new head coach Jeff Daniels that he is capable of filling a similar, and maybe expanded, role in the AHL this season.