A year ago, the Carolina Hurricanes had four of their top prospects — all among the CHL’s best — playing junior hockey. But with Zach Boychuk, Drayson Bowman, Mike Murphy and Chris Terry all graduated to the AHL, there is a new guard carrying the Canes torch in major junior.
Michal Jordan, D — Plymouth Whalers
Fourth round, 105th overall, 2008
After a strong start to the 2008-09 season, Jordan’s play leveled off last year. His start to this campaign was slowed before it even began. Jordan injured his knee while playing for Carolina in the Traverse City Prospect Tournament.
Jordan returned for the Whalers’ sixth game, and has registered three goals (all on the power play) and seven assists for 10 points through 18 games, trailing only teaamate Beau Schmitz — who attended the Canes prospect conditioning camp this summer as an undrafted invitee — among defensemen in Plymouth. Jordan’s -5, however, is worst among Whalers blueliners.
Jordan is poised to play in his third consecutive World Junior Championships, for his native Czech Republic, and has already been named captain for the team.
Matt Kennedy, RW — Guelph Storm
Fifth round, 131st overall, 2009
Kennedy had a breakthrough season in his third year with Guelph, putting up 73 points (33 goals and 40 assists) in 2008-09. His efforts got him selected in his second time through the draft, and the forward is on pace for even bigger numbers this time around.
Through 13 games with the Storm, Kennedy has 10 goals and six assists, including three goals and an assist in three games in the end of September that earned him OHL Player of the Week honors. Kennedy did miss a handful of games attending Carolina’s training camp, plus battled a groin injury in late October. But he scored goals in his first three games of November and ranks third on the Storm in scoring despite missing a total of nine games.
After piling up more than 90 penalty minutes the past two seasons, Kennedy has just eight in his overage season.
Samuel Morneau, LW — Val-d’Or Foreurs
Seventh round, 195th overall, 2008
Morneau’s Val-d’Or club has been much improved compared to recent years, but the Foreurs are still among the bottom five teams in the QMJHL. But that hasn’t kept Morneau from putting up big numbers.
After managing 54 points in 64 games last season, Morneau is on a point-per-game pace in 2009-10, registering 28 points (12 goals, 16 assists) through 26 games.
Philippe Paradis, C –Shawinigan Cataractes
First round, 27th overall, 2009
After a strong prospect conditioning camp in Raleigh, Paradis has had an average start to the 2009-10 season. Through 21 games, the first rounder has seven goals and eight assists, good for just fifth on Shawinigan. But despite his average numbers, Paradis was still chosen for the QMJHL squad for the annual Canada-Russia Super Series, and he had two assists in the QMJHL’s 8-3 win in Game 2. The tournament began Nov. 16 and concludes Nov. 26.
Players can often play their way into contention for a spot on Canada’s World Junior team with a standout performance in the Super Series, but Paradis is facing an uphill battle given all the talent throughout Canada.
Rasmus Rissanen, D — Everett Silvertips
Sixth round, 178th overall, 2009
The Hurricanes selected two Finnish defensemen in last year’s draft. Tommi Kivisto, taken in the seventh round, played last year in Red Deer before deciding to return to Finland for 2009-10. Rissanen did the opposite.
After playing in his home country last year, the rugged Rissanen decided to come to North America this season, joining Everett. Rissanen’s first year in Canada has come with some growing pains, but he provides a physical element to the Silvertips second-pairing (most recently with Chris de la Lande).
Through 21 games, Rissanen has three goals, two assists and a -3 along with 40 penalty minutes.