2015 NHL Draft: Carolina Hurricanes draft review

By Cory Lavalette

 

Callum Booth and Nicolas Roy - Carolina Hurricanes - 2015 NHL Draft

Photo: Quebec Remparts goaltender Callum Booth (L) and Chicoutimi Sagueneens center Nicolas Roy (R) were two players plucked from the QMJHL by the Carolina Hurricanes on Day 2 of the 2015 NHL Draft (courtesy of Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

 

Nicolas Roy, C, Chicoutimi Saguenéens (QMJHL)
4th round, 96th overall
Height: 6-4 Weight: 195 lbs

Once upon a time, Roy was considered a sure-fire first-round pick: a 6’4 frame with above average skill and hockey sense. In fact, Roy was the first overall pick in the 2013 QMJHL Entry Draft by Cape Breton, but was traded to Chicoutimi for three first-round picks after refusing to report to the Screaming Eagles so he could complete high school in Quebec.

Roy’s been considered a bit of a disappointment, hence his slide from the first round all the way to the fourth, but scouts still think he could be a productive player down the road with some improvements. Most of all, Roy’s skating has been questioned, especially when he was showcased with other top prospects on Team Canada at the U18 and Ivan Hlinka tournaments.

Roy finished the season with 16 goals and 34 assists, and he was Chicoutimi’s top faceoff man, taking more than 18 draws a night and winning 53.1 percent. But 50 points is hardly a lot in the high-scoring QMJHL—top scorer Conor Garland finished with 129—and Roy will either need to establish himself as a more prolific scorer, or as a standout defensive forward.

Perhaps Roy will play with a chip on his shoulder after falling into the middle rounds—quotes attributed to him after the draft suggested he was disappointed in waiting so long to hear his name called.

Luke Stevens, LW, Noble and Greenough (USHS)
5th round, 126th overall
Height: 6-4 Weight: 192 lbs

If players were drafted based on pedigree alone, Stevens could have made a case to go first overall. The son of former Francis teammate Kevin Stevens, the young power forward’s size and work ethic are reminiscent of his father.

But what the younger Stevens is lacking—and most players are—is elite skill. While Kevin tore up the NHL as a four-time 40-goal scorer, Luke’s puck skills have been deemed “clumsy” by some scouts. But you can’t teach size and determination, and the younger Stevens has both in spades.

The good news is Stevens is still one year away from heading to college, where he is committed to play for Yale starting in 2016-17. Stevens was hampered by a shoulder injury in 2014-15—he scored 11 goals and had 18 assists in 23 games as a junior for Noble and Greenough School in Dedham, Massachusetts— and is looking to take the next step in his development.

That means Carolina will not have to make a decision on him for at least five years, which should be ample time to see if Stevens can develop some of the skills that made his dad one of the most feared power forwards of the 1990s.

Spencer Smallman, RW, Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
5th round, 138th overall
Height: 6-1 Weight: 184 lbs

Smallman was the third QMJHL player selected by the Hurricanes in this draft, an unprecedented number for the team. In Smallman, Carolina is getting another character player that could play in the team’s bottom six in the future.

An alternate captain for Saint John, Smallman nearly doubled his goal output in his third season with the Sea Dogs, finishing 2014-15 with 23 goals (up from 12) and 33 assists in 66 games. Smallman makes his mark as a hard worker, a player willing to do anything to win—and his brawls with Morgan Adams-Moisan, Samuel Morin and Jacob Sweeney have all showcased that aspect of his game.

His toughness also goes beyond dropping the gloves: Smallman unknowingly played the final two weeks of the season with a broken shin (suffered on March 6) and still closed the season with a seven-game assist streak.

The Sea Dogs, who had a team-record seven players drafted this June, are expected to contend for the QMJHL and Memorial Cup titles in 2015-16, and Smallman should be in a major role.

Jake Massie, D, Kimball Union (USHS)
6th round, 156th overall
Height: 6-1 Weight: 172 lbs

The Hurricanes opted to draft a second defenseman after taking Hanifin fifth overall, making Massie the second of three New England high school products in their draft class.

Massie is committed to UMass-Amherst, and is set to join his NCAA squad in 2016. That should give Massie ample time to bulk up; he is listed at just 172 pounds. That will start in his next step, joining the USHL’s Omaha Lancers for the 2015-16 season.

Massie, Central Scouting’s top-ranked USHS defenseman at the draft, seemed confident in the style he plays.

“I like to join the rush, make risky plays and still get back and play [defense],” Massie said.

He finished last season with 20 points (five goals, 15 assists) in 34 games with Kimball Union Academy.

David Cotton, C, Cushing Academy (USHS)
6th round, 169th overall
Height: 6-3 Weight: 200 lbs

Cotton played last season in Massachusetts, but he knows what it’s like to be in a Sunbelt hockey market.

The Boston College-bound (in 2016) forward was born and raised in Texas, getting early exposure to the game via one of the league’s growing youth hockey markets.

“I was two at the time when the Dallas Stars won the Cup in ’99, so I just hopped in with the crowd and it brought me to here,” Cotton said at the draft.

Cotton has produced big numbers at the prep level, registering 69 points (27 goals and 42 assists) in just 33 games with Cushing Academy last season. Both scouts and Cotton himself know that improved skating will be the key to his progress.

“I’m working on my feet,” Cotton told reporters at the draft. “Just explosion, and being more agile.”

Cotton said he patterns his game after Rangers forward Kevin Hayes, a former Boston College player. He thinks his combination of size and talent, along with his ability to adapt his game, makes him unique.

“I feel like I’m a big, skilled forward, a top-six player that can fill a role,” Cotton said. “I have the size and stature that can kind of mold to different playing styles, and I think my versatility is a big key.”

Cotton is poised to join the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL for the 2015-16 season.

Cotton met with the media after his selection by the Hurricanes on Day 2 of the NHL Draft, with some of his comments being captured in this Hockey’s Future video.

Steven Lorentz, C, Peterborough Petes (OHL)
7th round, 186th overall
Height: 6-3 Weight: 191 pounds

Lorentz went undrafted last year, but Carolina didn’t hesitate to add even more size to its forward ranks with the big OHL forward. Lorentz, one of six Hurricanes picks to measure at least 6’3, doubled his production in his second season in Peterborough, going from 18 points in 2013-14 to 37 (16 goals, 21 assists) last year. He also finished the campaign with just 15 penalty minutes and was named the Petes Most Sportsmanlike Player in 2014-15.

MacDonald characterized Lorentz as a late bloomer, saying he had grown five inches and added more than 50 pounds since he was drafted into the OHL. A teammate of Hurricanes defensive prospect Kyle Jenkins, Lorentz should battle for a top-six role next season.

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