A season ago, the Carolina Hurricanes boasted some of junior hockey’s best players. But they have moved on to their professional careers, leaving the Canes with significantly fewer — and not as highly touted — players in the CHL in 2009-10. The Canes had just four players in juniors this season.
Michal Jordan, D — Plymouth Whalers (OHL)
Acquired: 4th round, 105th overall, 2008
Jordan was a big part of Plymouth’s success this season, but the emergence of Tyler Seguin as a potential No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft overshadowed the Czech defender and anyone else in a Whalers jersey.
While he scored one more goal (13) than he did in 2008-09, Jordan registered just 19 assists compared to 30 last season, with his overall point total going from 42 to 32 in his fourth OHL season. Of Jordan’s 13 goals, however, 11 came on the power play — good for second among all OHL defensemen this season.
Plymouth was swept out of the second round of the OHL playoffs by Windsor, with Jordan finishing with five assists in nine postseason games.
Jordan also played in the U20 World Championships for the Czechs for the third straight season, captaining this year’s team and finishing with one assist in six games.
Jordan signed his entry-level deal with the Hurricanes April 16 and is joining the Albany River Rats for the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Matt Kennedy, RW — Barrie Colts (OHL)
Acquired: 5th round, 131st overall, 2009
After a breakthrough season with Guelph last season, Kennedy was looking to build on his 73-point campaign. Instead, his overage season was derailed by an injury that raised eyebrows around the hockey world. Zack Kassian, a fellow 2009 NHL draft pick (first round by Buffalo) who was in his first game with the Windsor Spitfires, leveled Kennedy with a flying hit to the head. Kassian received a 20-game suspension and Kennedy was left questioning his future in hockey after suffering his fifth concussion.
But after discussing the injury with his family, Kennedy decided to return to the ice, rejoining the Colts in late January. The right wing finished the season with a combined 18 goals and 16 assists in 43 games with both Barrie — who acquired him early in the season — and Guelph, and has picked up the pace in the postseason. Through one game of the OHL’s Eastern Conference Championships — which the Colts lead 1-0 over Mississauga — Kennedy has six goals and four assists in nine games, including two goals in the 3-0 Game 1 win over the Majors. He’s a team-high plus-12 so far this postseason and could be leading Barrie on a collision course with Kassian and the Spitfires for a shot at the OHL title and a spot in the Memorial Cup.
Kennedy chose to return to the OHL for an overage season this year, but is earmarked for Charlotte of the AHL in 2010-11.
For the fourth straight season, Morneau has increased his goal and point totals in the QMJHL. Unfortunately for the 20-year-old forward, Val d’Or was again one of the league’s worst teams, finishing last in the Western Division. The Foreurs dropped their first-round series to Rouyn-Noranda, pushing the Huskies to six games. Morneau finished the series with three goals and four assists for seven points, and had three-point games in Game 1 (three assists in a 7-4 win) and Game 5 (two goals, one assist in a 9-4 loss).
Morneau finished the season with 62 points (30 goals, 32 assists), the most of any player who spent the entire season with the Foreurs. The one-time seventh-round pick could join Carolina’s AHL affiliate in Charlotte next season or return to Val d’Or. If he returns to the QMJHL, he faces a one-game suspension for delivering a hit to the head to a Huskies player in Game 5 of the series.
Rasmus Rissanen, D — Everett Silvertips (WHL)
Acquired : 6th round, 178th overall, 2009
The rough-and-tumble Finnish defenseman lived up to his billing in his first season in North America, piling up 103 penalty minutes — second most on the team to the fearless Radko Gudas — for the Silvertips. But not only did Rissanen provide grit, he was one of the three newcomers to a Silvertips blueline that allowed just 175 goals this past season — fewest in the WHL.
The 6’3 defenseman finished the year with just 15 points (four goals, 11 assists), scoring all his goals on the power play. Everett was eliminated in the first round of the WHL playoffs by Kelowna in seven games and Rissanen finished with one assist, eight penalty minutes and was a minus-4. Rissanen should be back with Everett in 2010-11.