The top three picks by the Carolina Hurricanes in last months NHL Entry draft were surprised, and not always for the best. David Tanabe, Brett Lysak, and Brad Fast were taken in the first, second, and third rounds, respectively.
Carolina made Tanabe their first pick, 16th overall. The pressing need for an offensive defenseman surpassed the available players ranked higher. The Hurricanes had the worst powerplay in the NHL during the 1998-1999 season. The 11 defensemen who skated for the Canes last season combined for 15 goals in 82 regular season games. Of those 15 goals, only three came on the power play. Tanabe, on the other hand, scored ten goals in 35 games. Three of his goals won games and one came on the powerplay. This came in his freshman year at the University of Wisconsin, where he was the third highest scorer. He has stated that his development is up to the Hurricanes organization and the Minneapolis native will either return to college or sign a contract and go into the Canes system. The combination of his great skating, hard shot, and superior passing caused Carolina to pick him as the third defenseman taken in the draft, when in fact, he was ranked eighth in that category.
The second round pick by the Canes was a surprise for not how much he moved up in the draft, but how far he fell. Brett Lysak, an 18-year-old center from Edmonton, was ranked 27th by the CSB, two in front of Tanabe, but went 49th. Teams stayed away from Lysak because of concern about a shoulder injury. During the 1998-1999 campaign, Brett scored 39 goals and 49 assists in 61 games, for Regina of the WHL. All but one team, the Detroit Red Wings, had at least one shot at Lysak in the first two rounds. He may prove to be a pick that many of those teams will regret passing on.
Surprise may be an understatement for the third round pick by the Hurricanes.
Brad Fast, a 19-year-old defenseman from Fort St. John, was slated to be a seventh round pick. Not expecting to be picked early, Fast, the captain of the Prince George Spruce Kings, went on the internet to see who had gone in the early rounds and saw his own name. This happened before the Canes had even contacted him. Brad scored 70 points in 58 games this year. He is targeted to attend Michigan State this year. Fast said that he is committed to four years as a Spartan, but will consider any plans and offers the Hurricanes bring to him.
The Hurricanes are hoping that the three surprises in this year’s draft turn in to pleasant surprises in years to come.