After participating in non-contact drills throughout training camp, Zach Boychuk showed enough to earn a prolonged stint with Carolina and got in two games with the Hurricanes before returning to Lethbridge in the WHL. He’s one of seven Carolina prospects currently playing in the CHL.
Drayson Bowman, LW, Spokane Chiefs
Third round, 72nd overall, 2007
A year after leading Spokane to the Memorial Cup, Bowman returned to the Chiefs to try and help the team defend its CHL title. Bowman’s numbers haven’t matched last season’s to this point, with the 19-year-old scoring 11 goals and adding 15 assists in 25 games. The Chiefs, while still second in the Western Conference’s U.S. Division, have also not yet picked up the pace from last year, perhaps the result of a long 2007-08 season.
Bowman looked a little overmatched during training camp with the Canes, but he showed he could keep up with the NHL pace and, with more seasoning, should eventually earn a spot in Carolina.
Zach Boychuk, C, Lethbridge Hurricanes
First round, 14th overall, 2008
Two games with Carolina early this season showed that Boychuk isn’t yet ready for the NHL. But the fact that Boychuk got the brief audition without any preseason games — due to wrist surgery — showed that the Carolina front office and coaching staff saw enough of Boychuk to know they have a future impact player.
Since returning to Lethbridge, Boychuk has picked off where he left off last season, compiling 10 goals and 10 assists in 16 games.
Boychuk also participated in the Canada/Russia Challenge, scoring a power-play goal in each of the WHL team’s two wins over the Russians. Boychuk also served as an alternate captain.
Justin McCrae, C, Spokane Chiefs
Fourth round, 102nd overall, 2007
McCrae, acquired by Spokane for last year’s playoff run, provided leadership and solid all-around play for the Memorial Cup champs down the stretch and through the playoffs last season. But the start to his 2008-09 season was derailed in the first game of the season when he hyperextended his knee. He has just recently returned to the Chiefs’ lineup, playing two games, and has one assist in three games this year.
McCrae was named captain Dec. 1, a position he held with Saskatoon before his trade to the Chiefs. His return to form could very well revive a somewhat underachieving Spokane squad.
Michal Jordan, D, Plymouth Whalers
Fourth round, 105th overall, 2008
The Canes saw something in Jordan when they chose him in this past year’s entry draft, and based on his play it wasn’t related to just his rights being owned by Plymouth, the Canes’ de facto affiliate in the OHL.
Through 23 games, Jordan already has three goals and 14 assists, and his 17 points are 15th best among defensemen in the OHL. With long-time Whalers coach Mike Vellucci returning to the bench and replacing former Canes goaltending coach Greg Stefan, the team is hoping to get out of the West Division basement and improve on their 9-13-3 record.
Mike Murphy, G, Belleville Bulls
Sixth round, 165th overall, 2008
Murphy’s play continues to prove doubters wrong. A year after being named the OHL’s goaltender of the year, Murphy has been even better. In 23 games with the Bulls this season, Murphy is 16-3-4 with a .934 save percentage and 2.01 goals-against average, the latter two tops in the OHL.
He was the CHL’s Goaltender of the Week for the week ending Nov. 2, and also stopped 16 of 17 shots in half of a game for the OHL entry in the Canada/Russia Challenge, helping the league complete a sweep of the Russian squad.
The only blip on Murphy’s chart this season was a battle with the flu that briefly kept him out of the net.
Chris Terry, LW, Plymouth Whalers
Fifth round, 132nd overall, 2007
Terry, last year’s team MVP and this season’s captain, was off to a fast start with the Whalers, registering 22 points (12 goals and 10 assists) in 17 games, but was sidelined by mononucleosis in early November and is yet to come back.
Terry was originally going to join Murphy on the OHL’s Canada/Russia Challenge entry, but the viral illness kept him from participating. Terry was expected to miss two weeks but has already passed that time frame for returning.
Samuel Morneau, LW, Val d’Or Foreurs
Seventh round, 195th overall, 2008
Morneau, the Canes’ final pick in this past year’s draft, got off to a fast start for a very bad Val d’Or team, scoring five goals in his first 11 games, but he has scored just once in the last 15 and has 21 total points in 26 games. The team has just five wins in 30 games and is in last place in the league.