Ryan Murphy, Zac Dalpe among Carolina Hurricanes prospects to watch in 2012-13

By Andrew Sykes

Zac Dalpe - Carolina Hurricanes

Photo: Forward Zac Dalpe is one of several Carolina prospects to see his plans for the 2012-13 season derailed by the ongoing lockout. (Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)

The 2012-13 NHL lockout has had a major impact on many of the young players with the Carolina Hurricanes. Ryan Murphy, the club's top prospect, would have gone into the season hoping to make a good enough impression at the Carolina Hurricanes training camp to perhaps lock down a spot with the big club. The NHL lockout however prevented those hopes from even getting off the ground and the gifted young defenseman was forced to return to junior.

Along with Murphy, there are a handful of other prospects that Hurricanes fans will want to keep an eye on during the 2012-13 season.

Pro

Top Pro Prospect
Zac Dalpe, C, Charlotte Checkers (AHL)

The 22-year-old Dalpe continues to be a fringe NHL player, and with 31 regular season games with the Hurricanes under his belt, he will certainly be one of the focal points in Charlotte this year. Coming off a 56 game season with the Checkers in which he scored 18 goals, Dalpe has the offensive ability to be a 30-goal scorer in the AHL this year. A quick-skating center with good instincts and a quick release, he has the chance to further assert himself in the organization by playing at an all-star level in what will be a very competitive AHL season.

Nor far behind him however is fellow 1989 birthdate Chris Terry. Despite not yet playing in an NHL game, Terry has been a better offensive producer than Dalpe the past two seasons and will again be looking to make his own case for a spot on the big club.

Offensive Breakout
Riley Nash, C, Charlotte Checkers (AHL)

A first-round selection of the Edmonton Oilers back in 2007, Nash has not yet shown the ability one would expect of a first-round NHL draft pick, but there are signs of improvements in his game. A reliable two-way center, the 23-year-old likely will never become a high-scoring offensive player, but he does have the potential to play an efficient game while chipping in on the offensive end.

Surrounded by quality players like Zach Boychuk, Zac Dalpe, Chris Terry, and Justin Faulk, Nash will have plenty of opportunity to improve upon the career highs of 14 goals and 32 points he set back in 2010-11, his first AHL season.

First Year Pro to Watch
Victor Rask, C, Charlotte Checkers (AHL)

Beginning his first season as a North American pro, Rask will be hoping that his one season in the WHL will have helped him prepare for a season in Charlotte which will come with some lofty expectations. The club's second-round pick in 2011, Rask came over from Sweden to play with the Calgary Hitmen a year ago and had no trouble adjusting. In 64 games he scored 33 goals and totaled 63 points before suffering an injury and missing the club's first-round playoff series.

Playing in the AHL this year presents a much bigger challenge for the 19-year-old center, but a solid, veteran roster in Charlotte should help him overcome any rookie blues he might experience. Rask's big body, skill and two-way smarts make him a very mature 19-year-old rookie and someone who should keep improving as the year goes on.

Junior

Top Junior Prospect
Ryan Murphy, D, Kitchener Rangers (OHL)

One of the most dynamic players in all of junior hockey at any position, Murphy's elite offensive skills as a defenseman has made him one of the CHL's biggest attractions. Known mainly for his offense, Murphy's smallish frame kept him off of Canada's roster at last year's World Junior Championships but it didn't scare Carolina GM Jim Rutherford away from selecting him 12th overall at the 2012 NHL Draft.

The 19-year-old has started this year surprisingly slow, with just a single assist in eight games, and will need to pick it up if he indeed hopes to have a shot at cracking team Canada this time around. With what he is able to do as an offensive-defenseman though, it is hard to imagine him being left off the squad for a second time.

Breakout Season
Daniel Altshuller, G, Oshawa Generals (OHL)

A third-round pick of the Hurricanes in 2012 despite posting an 11-16-3 record in his draft year, Altshuller has quickly made very wise men of the Carolina brass so far this year. On an Oshawa Generals team loaded with quality returning talent, Altshuller's selection as the club's number one goaltender figured to boost his play, and that is exactly what has happened. The 18-year-old has appeared in 11 games for the Generals and has posted a record of 8-2-1, a 2.85 goals against average, and a .907 save percentage.

A strong positional goalie with good size and reflexes, Altshuller's stats figure to rank among the best in the OHL this year due to Oshawa's success as a team, but as a young player he will still look to improve his consistency on a game-to-game basis.

Amateur

Top Amateur Prospect
Phil Di Giuseppe, LW, Michigan Wolverines (CCHA)

A player whose stock has very much been on the rise over the past year, Di Giuseppe's strong performance as a freshman at the University of Michigan moved him up the draft charts and culminated with his selection in the second round of the 2012 draft by the Hurricanes. A smart offensive player with good size and a high skill level, Di Giuseppe has the goods to become one of the top players in the country as a sophomore this year. After narrowly missing out on team Canada's junior team, the 19-year-old winger hopes to do enough to make the team this time around.

Newcomer to Watch
Jaccob Slavin, D, Chicago Steel (USHL)

Already into his third season in the USHL and still just 18-years-old, Slavin has undergone a rapid growth in his development and has gone from someone far off the radar to a fourth-round NHL draft pick. Playing with the Chicago Steel in the USHL, Slavin's best attribute, on top of being a fluid, mobile skater, is his decision making with the puck. He has added a good 10 pounds over the last year and will head to Colorado College for the 2013-14 season.

Europe

Top European Prospect
Evgeni Dadonov, RW, Donbass HC (KHL)

Once a heralded prospect in the Florida Panthers system, Dadonov is trying to re-establish himself with Carolina and is currently playing back in his native Russia for the first time since 2009. The 23-year-old is playing with Donbass in the KHL and is off to a nice start with the club, ranking second in points with 12 in 18 games. The small but skilled winger still has a chance to make a career in North America but his game might end up being better suited in the KHL, and a good year in Europe might make it hard for him to leave.

Newcomer to Watch
Erik Karlsson, C, Frolunda U20 (SuperElit)

Hurricanes fans might wish it was his superstar namesake of the Ottawa Senators but this Erik Karlsson is a talented young player in his own right. A fourth-round selection in 2012, Karlsson is a small but feisty player who does not shy away from contact and plays the game with skill and smarts. The 18-year-old is currently playing for Frolunda's U-20 team and has also been a key member of Sweden's national team at all junior levels. Karlsson can line up as a center or play the wing and brings a good attitude and a strong work ethic to the game.