Carolina Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford said the team’s focus at this year’s entry draft would be to infuse more size into the prospect pool. Mission accomplished.
Rutherford and his team of talent evaluators strayed from their tendencies in Montreal, using their first-round pick on a player from the QMJHL — the first time the franchise had done so since moving to Raleigh — and selected three European-born prospects, the most since 2005. But, as promised, they stocked up on big players both up front and on defense.
Paradis projects to be exactly what the Canes are lacking: a big-bodied forward who can provide time and space for Carolina’s smaller skill players. Not only that, but the Quebec-born, 18-year-old can grind and cycle the puck, attributes that fit the Hurricanes’ style.
That’s not to say the decision to draft him didn’t raise eyebrows. Paradis was one of the surprise picks of Round 1. Even Paradis, who said he felt the Hurricanes were one of a few teams very interested in him heading into the draft, admitted he was surprised to go in the first round. But clearly Rutherford & Co. had targeted Paradis, and not only did they get a player they coveted, but also added the size they desperately sought.
While Paradis isn’t expected to develop into a first-line player, he should provide valuable size and skill on the second or third line down the road. He had 19 goals and 31 assists this past season with the Cataractes, good for sixth on the team. His 50 points more than doubled his output (11 goals, 12 assists) from his first year with Shawinigan.
Brian Dumoulin, D — New Hampshire Junior Monarchs (EJHL)
Drafted: 2nd round, 51st overall
Height: 6’3 Weight 197 pounds
With the bulk of Carolina’s top defensive prospects inching toward make-it-or-break-it time in their young careers, it was important to infuse more top-end blueline talent to the prospect pool. With Boston College-bound Dumoulin available, Carolina selected not only one of the youngest players available in the draft, but also a big, smooth-skating rearguard who will have time to develop in the NCAA.
The biggest question surrounding Dumoulin is the level of competition he played against last year, but his numbers at the NHL Combine surely helped his cause. He was one of two players with an 80-inch wingspan (the other was Kingston defenseman Taylor Doherty, selected later in the second by San Jose) and also registered six percent body fat, the lowest of anyone at the Combine.
Despite being a native of Maine, Dumoulin did not grow up Bruins fan.
“My favorite player growing was Joe Sakic from Colorado, “Dumoulin said at the draft. “I was [an Avalanche fan] for the 2000-01 season, now I’m a Carolina Hurricanes fan.”
Dumoulin’s raw skill and age point to him being more of a long-term project, but the fact that he’s college-bound allows for more development time if needed. Playing at BC should give him the opportunity to play significant minutes and work on bulking up on his 6’3 frame.
He finished with seven goals and 23 assists in 41 games with the Monarchs in 2008-09.
Mattias Lindstrom, LW — Skelleftea (SEL)
Drafted: 3rd round, 88th overall
Height: 6’4 Weight: 203
A player like Lindstrom is who comes to mind when a need for size is brought up. International Scouting Services called him “a huge truck on wheels,” and it’s hard to argue with them. Like Paradis, Lindstrom adds both size and physicality up front.
Lindstrom may never be an elite goal scorer, but everything points to him being willing to go to the dirty areas and effective in front of the net — think more Tomas Holmstrom top-end potential than Johan Franzen.
Lindstrom spent most of last season playing with Skelleftea’s junior team, managing eight goals and five assists in 31 games. But the big winger also saw seven games with the men, getting one goal in his first taste of top-level SEL action. Expect him to get more time in the upper league in 2009-10.
Matt Kennedy, RW — Guelph (OHL)
Drafted: 5th round, 131st overall
Height: 6’2, 203 pounds
The beat went on with the selection of Kennedy in the fifth round. Without a fourth-round pick, Carolina chose Kennedy — another big forward — in Round 5. Kennedy led Guelph in scoring last season — besting 15th-overall pick Peter Holland — with 33 goals and 40 assists in 67 games. He also managed five points (three goals, two assists) in the Storm’s four-game ousting in the fist round of the OHL playoffs.
The 2008-09 season was a breakthrough one for Kennedy. After 22- and 21-points seasons the last two years, his 73 points were more than three times the amount he managed in any of his previous OHL seasons. Through in 95 penalty minutes — just four less than 2007-08 — and Kennedy could provide a mix of skill and grit down the road.
Rasmus Rissanen, D — Kalpa Jr. (Finland)
Drafted: 6th round, 178th overall
Height: 6’2 Weight 185 pounds
Rissanen, while not the opposite of Dumoulin, provides more of a stay-at-home, physical presence on the back end. He is poised in his own end and also displays a mean streak. His addition to Finland’s U18 team provided the grit and size otherwise lacking on defense, which helped lead the team to a win in the bronze-medal game over Canada in U-18 World Championships.
For Carolina, the addition of Rissanen adds a dimension otherwise lacking in the system.
Carolina looked back to North America for their final selection, but still chose their third Scandinavian of the draft. Kivisto played 2008-09 in Red Deer of the WHL but is a native of Finland.
Kivisto struggled in his transition to the North American game. He recorded 22 points (one goal, 21 assists) in 65 games with Red Deer, but managed just six points after playing for Finland at the World Juniors over the holidays.
Unfortunately for the Rebels, Kivisto has reportedly signed a two-year deal to return to his homeland and play for Jokerit of SM-Liiga, but the Canes were likely aware of his decision prior to selecting him.