Young, talented defenseman highlight Hurricanes NCAA and European prospect pools

By Cory Lavalette
Photo: Defenseman Mark Alt is part of a large group of very talented blueliners with a great deal of promise. (Photo courtesy of

Josh Holmberg /Icon SMI)

Already featuring two highly-touted blueliners in Justin Faulk and Ryan Murphy, the Carolina Hurricanes list of talented defensemen has only continued to grow with the impressive production of some of their other draftees. Brian Dumoulin, Danny Biega, and Mark Alt are all 1991 birthdates who played major roles with their collegiate teams and are all on track to impact the organization in the near future.

The most impressive performance however may have been turned in by Danish goaltender Frederik Andersen. A rookie playing in the Swedish Elite League, Andersen was arguably the top goalie in the league and will certainly have caught the eye of teams around the league who could seek out a trade for the up and coming netminder, due to the fact that Cam Ward is locked into the number one position.

NCAA

Brian Dumoulin, D, Boston College Eagles (Hockey East)
Drafted 2nd round, 51st overall, 2009

A junior defenseman at Boston College, Dumoulin helped the Eagles capture the 2012 NCAA Championship this past April. A second-round pick in 2009, Dumoulin was the Eagles leading scorer among defensemen with 28 points in 44 games and was an instrumental component of a team that ranked in the top 3 in the nation both offensively and defensively.

A smooth-skating blueliner with good size, Dumoulin signed an entry-level contract at the conclusion of his season and will compete for a roster spot with the Hurricanes in September. Along with Justin Faulk and Ryan Murphy, the 20-year-old Dumoulin gives Carolina three rearguards who all have the potential and ability to step in and play in a top-six role at a very young age.

Danny Biega, D, Harvard Crimson (ECAC)
Drafted 3rd round, 67th overall, 2010

A high-scoring blueliner out of Harvard, Biega turned in an outstanding junior season for the Crimson. Finishing second in team scoring with 35 points in 34 games, Biega ranked as one of the top-scoring defensemen in the country, finished as the runner-up for ECAC Player of the Year, and was selected as a first team All-American.

A 20-year-old native of Montreal, Biega's fine season is another addition to Carolina's increasingly impressive group of defensive prospects. He will return to Harvard for his senior season and has already been named Captain of next year's squad.

Mark Alt, D, Minnesota Golden Gophers (WCHA)
Drafted 2nd round, 53rd overall, 2010

A second-round pick in 2010, Alt completed his sophomore season at the University of Minnesota. A key member of a young but high-scoring Gophers squad, Alt led all team defenseman with five goals and finished second with 22 points.

A two-way blueliner with developing ability at both ends of the ice, Alt possesses an athletic build and continues to fill out his 6'3 frame. Considered to be quite raw during his freshman campaign, Alt improved his overall game as a sophomore and should be one of the better collegiate defensemen as a junior next year.

Jeremy Welsh, LW, Union College (ECAC)
Signed as free agent, April 2012

An undrafted free agent signing of the Hurricanes, Welsh has become an emerging power forward who has put himself in the mix to become a solid pro for years to come. A 24-year-old winger at Union College, Welsh was at times a dominating presence for the small school that would surprisingly advance to the NCAA Frozen Four.

Utilizing his impressive physical attributes (6'3, 200 lbs) Welsh was one of the nation's top goal-scorers with 27 goals (third in nation) and averaged over a point-per-game with 44 points in 40 total games.

After the Frozen Four, Welsh signed a one-year deal with the Hurricanes and played in his first NHL game. He figures to be in the mix for a roster spot and could end up being a surprising rookie contributor should he make the team.

Europe

Gregory Hofmann, RW, Ambri-Piotta (NLA)
Drafted 4th round, 103rd overall, 2011

A fourth-round pick of the Hurricanes in the 2011 draft, Hofmann once again played a bulk of his season with Ambri-Piotta in the Swiss League. Playing 34 games with the main team and another seven with the junior squad, Hofmann, like many young players playing in Europe, hasn't been given much of a chance to produce offensively but remains an intriguing prospect.

A 19-year-old winger, Hofmann is below average in size but is extremely quick with the puck in close quarters. He has tremendous offensive instincts, plays with energy, and was once considered to be a more well rounded and complete player than Flames prospect Sven Bartschi (CAL).

Frederik Andersen, G, Vastra Frolunda HC (SEL)
Drafted 7th round, 187th overall, 2010

The Danish-born Andersen is a towering presence in goal standing 6'4 and this year he used that size to take the Swedish Elite League by storm. The 22-year-old netminder played his first season for Frolunda and finished the regular season as the league-leader in both goals against average and save percentage.

The former MVP of the Danish Superleague was a nominee for rookie of the year in the Elitserien and has quickly become one of the most talked about goaltending prospects playing overseas. The Hurricanes are sure to be absolutely thrilled with the development of their seventh-round pick in 2010, as Andersen now projects to be a future number one goaltender in the NHL.

Tommi Kivisto, D, Jokerit Helsinki (SM-liiga)
Drafted 7th round, 208th overall, 2009

Splitting his year with Jokerit in the SM-liiga and Kiekko-Vantaa in the Finnish second-division, Kivisto continues to progress as an offensively skilled blueliner. The 20-year-old has yet to make a return to North America since playing one season with the Red Deer Rebels in 2008-09 and although his play has been solid, it doesn't seem like he will have impressed enough to earn an AHL contract.

Kivisto performed better with Kiekko than he did with Jokerit so the Hurricanes will definitely want to see him be able to stick in the SM-liliga with Jokerit next year before making any decisions on his future.

Oskar Osala, LW, Nizhnekamsk Neftekhimik (KHL)
Drafted in trade with Washington, March 2010

Despite some solid play throughout his career in the AHL, Osala has appeared in just three NHL games, one of which was with Carolina. This year the Finnish winger decided to take his game to Russia where he played with Neftekhimik in the KHL. The 24-year-old scored 12 goals and collected seven assists in 41 games with the Russian side.

As a player who was seemingly on the cusp of NHL duty, it will be interesting to see whether Osala decides on a return to North America where his size and scoring ability makes him a viable option for a team looking to fill out either their AHL or NHL roster.

 

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