The Carolina Hurricanes were without a first round pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, but Canes GM Jim Rutherford surely found a way to live with it. The pick was dealt during the previous season so Carolina could acquire veteran Doug Weight, a move that helped propel the franchise to its first Stanley Cup.
But even without a pick in the first round, the Hurricanes found great value with their top selection, plus added at least one solid depth player into their system among their five other picks.
Jamie McBain, D, U.S. NTDP – 2nd round, 63rd overall
Status: NHL player
NHL Games Played: 59 games
Carolina used its first selection in 2006 on the University of Wisconsin-bound defenseman, a decision that is already paying dividends for the team. McBain put in three solid seasons with the Badgers – including being nominated for the Hobey Baker Award his junior season – before turning pro.
After a 10-game stint with the Albany River Rats to close out the 2008-09 campaign, McBain shined as a rookie with Carolina’s AHL affiliate last season. After a slow start, McBain focused on play in his own end and then evolved into the all-around player Carolina expected him to become. In 68 games with the Rats, McBain had seven goals and 33 assists before earning an end-of-season promotion to Carolina.
His 14-game showcase in Raleigh was promising – McBain had 10 points, including three goals, with the Hurricanes – and he was penciled in for a job in Carolina this season. Much like 2009-10, McBain was slow out of the gates, managing just three assists in his first 17 games. But McBain has heated up for Carolina, registering seven points in his last eight games through Jan. 15. Through 45 games, McBain has 16 points (two goals, 14 assists) and is playing more than 18 minutes a night.
It looked like Carolina had found a gem in Reed when he scored 29 goals and finished with 81 points for Sarnia in the season following his selection. But it turned out that has been Reed’s last productive season. After a slow start with the Sting the following year, Reed was dealt to Guelph in a change-of-scenery move. Reed finished his final junior season with a combined 47 points with Sarnia and Guelph, but Carolina still signed him to an entry-level deal with the hopes he’d regain his scoring touch.
He played all but one game with Albany in 2008-09, but had just nine points in his first professional season. After spending nine games in the ECHL and another 49 with the River Rats in 2009-10, Reed was part of a deadline trade that sent him and veteran NHLer Stephane Yelle to Colorado for Cedric Lalonde-McNicoll and a sixth round pick.
Reed has spent the majority of this season with the Tulsa Oilers of the Central Hockey League (CHL), but was recalled to Colorado’s AHL affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters, in early January. He has one point in 11 games with the Monsters.
Hughes was a hard-luck player from the start, suffering a career-threatening neck injury in his first season that derailed a promising career. Hughes was one of the OHL‘s top scorers in 2006-07, scoring 40 goals and finishing with 96 points for Kingston, and his professional career got off to a solid start the following season.
But after putting up 16 points in his first 26 games if the 2007-08 season, Hughes suffered a mysterious neck injury that cost him the rest of the campaign and two-thirds of the following season. Prior to the 2009-10 season, Hughes was dealt to the Islanders for journeyman Rob Hennigar.
Just months after the trade, Hughes was charged with committing a criminal act in Albany, N.Y., charges he was acquitted of last June. Following the trial, Hughes was asked if he’d ever return to Albany, to which he responded, "No, never." If that’s the case, that would likely rule out a return to the AHL, at least certainly any team in the league’s Eastern Conference.
Hughes played a total of 33 games last season with the AHL‘s Bridgeport Sound Tigers, ECHL‘s Utah Grizzlies and the CHL’s Wichita Thunder. After the Isles decided not to tender him a qualifying offer, Hughes returned to Wichita where he has spent the entire 2010-11 season. He has 27 points in 33 games with the Thunder.
Chaput, like Hughes, got off to a fast start in his first pro season before being sidelined by injury. After a one-game cup of coffee in 2007-08, Chaput returned to Albany for his first full pro season the next fall, and he had 11 points in his first 15 games.
His ability to score wasn’t a surprise: Chaput’s final year with Lewiston saw him score 33 goals and assist on 36 others. But after his fast start with Albany, Chaput suffered a knee injury, and his eventual surgery cost him the remainder of the 2008-09 campaign. He bounced back last season, scoring 38 points in 75 games for the River Rats, but he was not consistent in all three zones.
Chaput had just three assists in 20 games with Carolina’s current AHL affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers, when he was traded, along with fellow Checker Matt Kennedy, to Anaheim for checking center Ryan Carter on Nov. 23. Since joining the Ducks’ affiliate in Syracuse, Chaput has five points in 19 games.
Nick Dodge, C/RW, Clarkson (ECAC) – 6th round, 183rd overall
Status: NHL prospect
NHL Games Played: None
It took 201 games, but Dodge finally missed an AHL game. The one-time Hobey Baker Award nominee has earned a reputation as a hard-working checker who could not only be relied on to do whatever asked of him, but also be in the lineup night after night. After back-to-back, 80-game seasons and 41 games this year, Dodge missed his first game as a pro on Jan. 14. His 201-game run w
as tops in the AHL – coincidentally, teammate Chris Terry takes over as the league’s current ironman with 122 consecutive games.
Dodge’s point production is down from the past two years, when he posted 39 and 36 points respectively, but he serves as one of the Checkers’ alternate captains and is a go-to player for Charlotte coach Jeff Daniels.
After playing wing in college – though still taking faceoffs and considered one of the NCAA‘s best during his time at Clarkson – Dodge has become a full-time center for Daniels. He has just nine points through 41 games this season, but his hockey smarts and continued improvement could see him earn a role as an NHL third or fourth-liner and penalty killer down the road.
Justin Krueger, D, Penticton (BCHL) – 7th round, 213th overall
NHL Games Played: None
When Krueger was selected, many thought Carolina only chose him because he was the son of Ralph Krueger, an associate coach with the Edmonton Oilers and one-time Hurricanes European scouting consultant and former Swiss national coach.
That may be true, but the younger Krueger turned into a pretty solid defenseman in his own right. Krueger spent four years at Cornell and emerged as one of the ECAC’s best shutdown defenders. Krueger had just 32 points in his four years with the Big Red, but was named the conference’s top defensive defenseman his senior season.
Carolina attempted to sign Krueger to an entry-level deal, but he instead opted to play professional hockey with Bern of the Swiss-A league. Because Carolina failed to sign him last summer, they no longer hold his rights.