The Carolina Hurricanes’ 2010 draft easily goes down as the team’s best since it moved to North Carolina. Six of the eight players selected have played an NHL game, and three are already key players with their respective teams.
Need proof? You would be hard-pressed to find any team that selected a 30-goal scorer, a top pairing defenseman and a starting goalie in one draft year.
Other teams have been close. In 2001, the Senators drafted Jason Spezza, Tim Gleason and Ray Emery. Two years later, the Blackhawks took Brent Seabrook, Corey Crawford and Dustin Byfuglien in the 2003 draft. But neither of those trios had the credentials of the Hurricanes’ 2010 haul.
The last time it was definitively done was by the Islanders in 1993, when they drafted forward Todd Bertuzzi (23rd), defenseman Bryan McCabe (40th) and goalie Tommy Salo (118th).
Prior to that, the Nordiques landed future Hurricanes defenseman Curtis Leschyshyn (third), goaltender Stephane Fiset (24th) and winger Valeri Kaminsky (129th) in the 1988. And in 1983, a remarkable four teams pulled it off: Buffalo, Chicago, New Jersey and Winnipeg.
So Carolina’s 2010 draft is certainly in good company. Is it among the most impactful drafts in recent memory? Probably not when you consider the the drafting done by San Jose in 2003 and Montreal in 2007.
But the group still has room to grow. Faulk is on the cusp of being a top-10 NHL defenseman, and Jeff Skinner — the Calder Trophy winner in 2011 — has more than 100 goals and 100 assists at age 23. Andersen, who never signed with Carolina and re-entered the draft, has Anaheim battling for a Stanley Cup this season. Others from the draft class made their NHL debuts this season and could still carve out a spot in the NHL in the coming years.
Jeff Skinner, LW, Kitchener Rangers (OHL), 1st round, 7th overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 336
Jeff Skinner burst onto the scene in 2010-11 and stole the show from top-two picks Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin, scoring 31 goals and totaling 63 points as an 18-year-old to beat out Logan Couture for the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie.
Four seasons later, it hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows for Skinner. The Hurricanes have yet to make the playoffs in Skinner’s five seasons, a true shame considering that the last time Skinner was in the postseason he scored 20 goals in 20 games for Kitchener. He’s also been sidelined by injuries — including at least three concussions — and inconsistent play that some attribute directly to the head injuries he has suffered.
Skinner’s concussion history and dipping numbers have led to some trade speculation given that new GM Ron Francis is now at the helm. While trading disappointing Alexander Semin and his immovable contract seems like an impossibility, Skinner still has value and could net Carolina a substantial return while offering some salary cap room. Conversely, the Hurricanes ranked just 26th in goals scored in 2014-15 (2.23 per game), so trading away the only Carolina player with a 25-goal campaign in the past four seasons hardly seems prudent.
Despite having managed just 31 points this past season, Skinner is still a two-time 30-goal scorer, notching a career-best 33 in just 71 games in 2013-14, and an analytics darling that many believe will bounce back after a rough campaign. But there’s no denying that he has reached a crossroads in his career. Can he be the top-six sniper he was in 2010-11 and 2013-14, or will he be a footnote in the careers of fellow 2010 first-rounders Seguin, Hall and Ryan Johansen?
Justin Faulk, D, University of Minnesota-Duluth (NCAA), 2nd round, 37th overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 262
While Skinner was the initial prize of the 2010 draft for Carolina, it’s Faulk who is poised to be its biggest star. Faulk signed with Carolina after winning an NCAA title as a freshman at Minnesota-Duluth in 2011, joining the Charlotte Checkers for their AHL playoff run that season.
But Faulk didn’t stay with Charlotte long. In mid-November of the 2011-12 season Faulk was called up for good, playing a total of 66 NHL games and notching 22 points — including eight goals — as a 19-year-old rookie.
Faulk was back in the AHL the following October — not because of his play but rather the NHL lockout. Once the lockout ended, Faulk returned to Raleigh and settled in as the Hurricanes’ No. 1 defenseman, combining for 52 points in 114 games over the next two seasons.
But it wasn’t until this past season that Faulk truly became a legitimate No. 1 defenseman. Faulk’s 15 goals, 34 assists, 49 points, seven power play goals, 20 power play points, and 24:25 minutes of ice time all ranked in the top-20 among NHL defenders. He also shook off a rough start to the season in his own end and emerged as a shutdown defender, surprisingly becoming even better once long-time partner Andrej Sekera was traded at the trade deadline and the team was forced to play several young players on the back end.
What’s next for Faulk? He just completed the first season of a six-year contract that will cost $4.83 million against the caps. The contract paid him $2.5 million last season, but will escalate and be worth $6 million in each of the final two seasons. Francis will be looking to replace Sekera via free agency or trade to give Faulk a legitimate top partner. But unlike Skinner, Faulk — also just 23 — seems to be trending upward and, with some team success, could enter the Norris Trophy conversation in the next couple seasons.
Mark Alt, D, University of Minnesota (NCAA), 2nd round, 53rd overall
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL Games Played: 1
Carolina’s other second-round choice in 2010 was also a defenseman. Alt, son of longtime Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman John Alt, was heavily recruited to play quarterback by a bevy of top colleges. Alt did decide on Minnesota, but not as a quarterback but rather a defenseman on the Golden Gophers hockey team.
Having split time between football and hockey, Alt was considered a project that would need to refine his hockey skills in order to succeed. Alt played three years at Minnesota and was traded by Carolina to Philadelphia, along with journeyman goalie Brian Boucher, in January of his junior season, in exchange for spare part Luke Pither.
It was a curious deal for the Hurricanes, who were looking to move Boucher with Cam Ward and Justin Peters available to carry the load in net for Carolina, but had to give up an asset in Alt to shed their third goalie.
Alt went on to sign with the Flyers, playing the final six games of the 2012-13 season with the team’s AHL affiliate in Adirondack, then all of the following season there while registering 26 points (four goals, 22 assists) in 75 games.
His 2014-15 campaign with the Phantoms, now in Lehigh Valley, was marred by injuries — first a shoulder injury, and later a broken left hand — but Alt still earned a one game call-up to Philadelphia and made his NHL debut on March 28 in the Flyers’ 3-2 shootout loss to San Jose.
One of three rookie defensemen to play for the Flyers this season, Alt has competition among Philadelphia’s defensive prospects. But his size (6’4, 201 pounds) and natural athleticism help offset his relative lack of experience.
Danny Biega, D, Harvard University (NCAA), 3rd round, 67th overall
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL Games Played: 10
Biega entered Harvard a year early so he could play with his older brothers Alex and Michael before the latter graduated. His early arrival at Harvard meant he already had a year of collegiate hockey — and weight training — under his belt when he was draft eligible in 2010.
Biega was widely considered one of the best players at the combine, finishing first in several categories and in the top 10 of more than half of the administered fitness tests. Carolina liked what they saw and took Biega with the first of two third-round picks. Biega went on to play out his eligibility at Harvard, leading the team in scoring his sophomore year and serving as captain in his senior season.
Biega has played two full pro seasons, serving as one of the Checkers’ top defenders and a veteran leader despite his limited pro experience. Biega earned a 10-game recall to Carolina at the end of this season, registering two assists while logging 16:08 a night — the most of any of the four rookies who saw time on the Hurricanes’ blue line in 2014-15.
With one year remaining on his entry-level contract, Biega will be battling for a bottom pairing or seventh-defenseman role with the Hurricanes next season.
Watch this 2010 NHL Draft Look Back video featuring Hurricanes’ draft picks Jeff Skinner and Danny Biega.
Austin Levi, D, Plymouth (OHL), 3rd round, 85th overall
NHL Games Played: 0
Levi was an intriguing choice in 2010: he possessed the size (now 6’4, 225 pounds) coupled with the athleticism every team looks for in a defenseman. But there was no denying that he was raw and would need to develop his skills to make the leap to pro hockey.
So far, Levi has struggled to even earn a full-time AHL job, spending the majority of his first two professional seasons in the ECHL. Levi spent three seasons after his draft year in the OHL with Plymouth and finally started playing pro hockey 2013-14. Most of that season was spent with Carolina’s ECHL affiliate in Florida, where he logged 53 games compared to just 10 in the AHL with Charlotte.
This season was more of the same, with Levi getting just 15 games with the Checkers and spending most of the year back in the ECHL with Florida and on loan to Stockton.
Given his lack of success and the team’s glut of young defensemen, it seems unlikely that Levi, a restricted free agent, will be re-signed this summer.
Justin Shugg, LW, Windsor Spitfires (OHL), 4th round, 105th overall
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL Games Played: 3
Much like fellow Carolina late-round pick Chris Terry, Shugg has had to earn every step up the prospect ladder he has climbed. A high-scoring winger and 2010 Memorial Cup champion with Windsor, Shugg expected to go higher in the draft as the Spitfires No. 2 scorer to eventual first overall pick Taylor Hall.
Shugg didn’t hide his disappointment in going in the fourth round, but he used it to fuel him the next year when he led his new team, Mississauga, in scoring with 41 goals and 87 points and within one win of earning him a second straight Memorial Cup.
He had to prove himself all over again in his first professional season in 2011-12, playing 33 regular season games with Charlotte and 11 with the ECHL’s Everblades. But he again came out on top, leading all Florida players in playoff goals with seven to help the Everblades win the Kelly Cup.
He still spent time in both leagues the next season, but finally gained a full-time job in Charlotte in 2013-14, scoring 16 goals and finishing with 38 points. He followed that up by leading the Checkers in goals (21) and points (43) this season, and also earned his first NHL promotion, averaging 5:41 in three games in December.
Shugg is a restricted free agent this summer, but as Charlotte’s top scorer and a player that got an NHL test run, one would think Carolina will look to re-sign the 23-year-old winger for 2015-16.
Tyler Stahl, D, Chilliwack Bruins (WHL), 6th round, 167th overall
NHL Games Played: 0
Stahl is the only player in Carolina’s 2010 draft that wasn’t signed to a professional contract. Stahl was drafted out of Chilliwack of the WHL and played the 2010-11 season there, registering 10 points and 182 penalty minutes in 67 games. The franchise was relocated to Victoria the following season, but Stahl played just 20 games after suffering a concussion early in the season.
Stahl was named the Royals’ captain for the 2012-13 season, but he played just 41 regular-season games due to injury and three separate suspensions (he totaled six in his WHL career). He finished with career highs in goals (four) and points (12).
Unsigned by Carolina, Stahl ended his hockey career after that season, finishing his career as the Chilliwack/Victoria all-time penalty minutes leader with 465. He held that mark until this season, when Flames prospect Austin Carroll finished the 2014-15 season with 124 PIMs, giving him 470 for his career with the Royals.
Frederik Andersen, G, Frederikshavn (Denmark), 7th round, 187th overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 82
For all the good that game from the 2010 draft, it’s tough to overlook what could have been with Andersen in Carolina. Andersen was a brilliant seventh-round pick: a little-known Danish goaltender playing with men in his native country by the time he was 20. Andersen moved on to Frolunda of the Swedish Elite League (now SHL) in 2011-12 and dominated, finishing the season with a 1.62 goals-against average and .943 save percentage.
But for Carolina’s sake, that was probably too good, too soon. Rather than sign with the Hurricanes within the two-year window of his selection in 2010, Andersen decided to re-enter the draft and was chosen in the third round (87th overall) of the 2012 draft by Anaheim.
The rest, as they say, is history. Andersen signed with the Ducks and played all of 2012-13 with the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals, going 24-18-1 with a 2.19 goals-against average and .923 save percentage.
There was added competition in 2013-14 with John Gibson — one of hockey’s top goaltending prospects and the 39th overall pick in 2011 — beginning his professional career. While Andersen backed up Jonas Hiller for most of last season, finishing 20-5-0 with a 2.29 goals-against average and .923 save percentage, Gibson was fast becoming a consideration for the Ducks.
Then, Andersen went down with an upper-body injury in early April, opening the door for Gibson. Gibson responded with a shutout in his NHL debut, but Andersen returned to health and earned the top job heading into the postseason ahead of the veteran Hiller and his fellow rookie.
Andersen won three of his first five playoff starts, but was pulled for Hiller at the midway point of Anaheim’s series-clinching Game 6 win in Dallas. Andersen then didn’t get another shot in net until Game 3 with the Ducks trailing in the series 2-0 against the eventual champion Kings. Unfortunately, Andersen suffered a lower-body injury in the third period and did not play again as Anaheim was ousted in seven games.
With Hiller gone to Calgary, Andersen and Gibson entered the 2014-15 season in a battle for the Ducks’ starting job. But Andersen seized control early, winning his first six starts after Gibson was shelled in the season opener. Andersen, 25, went 35-12-5 for the season with three shutouts, a .914 save percentage and 2.38 goals-against average. He is also 11-3 this postseason through Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals, cementing his status as one of the NHL’s best young goaltenders.
Notable Playoff Performances
Carolina had two prospects reach the OHL Western Conference finals with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. In 14 postseason games, undrafted signee Sergey Tolchinsky had 14 points (four goals, 10 assists), while defenseman Tyler Ganly was second among Greyhounds defensemen with nine points (two goals, seven assists).
Ganly signed with Carolina on June 1 and both could join Carolina’s AHL affiliate in Charlotte in 2015-16.
Player Of The Month: Brent Pedersen, LW, Oshawa Generals (OHL)
Traded from Kitchener for five draft picks in December, Pedersen joined the Generals in their quest to win the Memorial Cup for the first time since 1990 when they were led by a phenom named Eric Lindros.
Pedersen and his new team were up to the task, winning the OHL championship and going undefeated in the Memorial Cup, defeating Kelowna in overtime, 2-1, in the final.
Pedersen, the first of several players acquired by the Generals to bolster their lineup, was a character addition to an already high-powered team. Pedersen managed just three assists in 21 playoff games with Oshawa, but added size and leadership in helping the Generals to the OHL and Memorial Cup titles.
A fifth-round pick in 2013, Pedersen was not signed by Carolina by the deadline and will be eligible to re-enter the draft this month.