The Carolina Hurricanes made two early surprising moves that solidified their status as legitimate contenders. Holding the fifth overall pick in the 2013 Draft, the Hurricanes knew that one way or another they were going to be able to pick up a player who could develop into a star franchise player.
Instead of trading their fifth overall pick to pick up a big name defenseman, General Manager Jim Rutherford made a sly move by plucking underrated Slovakian defenseman Andrej Sekera away from the Buffalo Sabres. Sekera, a defenseman who is responsible in every zone of the ice, was a huge pickup for a Hurricanes team with a beleaguered defensive corp. Only 27 years old and entering the prime of his career on a very good contract (2.75M until 2015), Sekera is sure to have an instant positive impact on the squad.
Elias Lindholm, C, Brynäs IF (SEL)
1st Round, 5th Overall
Height: 6'0 Weight: 183
Lindholm has already drawn comparisons to the likes of Henrik Zetterberg and Peter Forsberg based on his tenacity and fearlessness in every zone on the ice. Lindholm, one of the most complete and skilled players taken in the draft this year, figures to be an every-situation type forward. The young Swede will be counted on to contribute on the powerplay, penalty kill, and log plenty of ice time once he establishes himself as a top six forward.
One of the most complex and intriguing aspects of drafting Lindholm is seeing if he can eventually unseat longtime Hurricane and captain Eric Staal as the team's number one center. If the Brynäs star develops more quickly than expected, it gives Carolina the option of putting Jordan Staal back on the third line where he had tremendous success during his tenure with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
His future with the club next season is unknown for the time being. Lindolm is signed on with Brynäs IF for at least one more season, however he could make the jump to the NHL next season if Carolina feels he can bypass the AHL and his game can easily transition from Europe to North American style hockey.
Brett Pesce, D, New Hampshire Wildcats (Hockey East)
3rd Round, 66th Overall
Height: 6'3 Weight: 170
After addressing their immediate need for help on the blue line in the second round, Carolina decided to continue this trend and ensure that the team stockpiles talent on the backend for the future.
Their first selection in over sixty picks after Lindholm came in the form of lanky defenseman Brett Pesce, a true freshman starter at the University of New Hampshire. Pesce, who was Central Scouting's top rated NCAA player for the draft, is a project player who possesses a massive amount of potential. Standing tall at 6'3 and still possibly growing, the New York native needs to add some serious weight by the time he finishes his collegiate career in order to make an impact at the NHL level.
The Wildcat standout prides himself on being a defensive defenseman. He plays a positional game and is good at forcing opposing forwards into bad decisions and undesirable shooting and passing lanes on the ice.
Pesce is committed to his excellence not only on the ice but as to his education as well. He should spend the next few years at New Hampshire where he hopes to win big on the ice, and earn his degree before finally going pro.
Hockey's Future shot video of the Hurricanes' top two picks, Lindholm and Pesce, at the 2013 NHL Draft. You can view their extended remarks in this HF video.
Potential is the name of the game when it comes to Kitchener Ranger Brent Pedersen. Making just enough noise with his shot and his fists, the big power forward has shown some steady and promising upside during his short time in the OHL.
Carolina's hope is that the big bodied forward is able to continue scoring goals and crunching bodies. If his aggression and offensive ability is fostered, Pedersen might find himself as a serviceable bottom six winger who can be counted on to chip in a few goals as well as to drop the gloves when called upon.
Tyler Ganly, D, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
6th Round, 156th Overall
Height: 6'2 Weight: 198
With their final pick in the draft, the Hurricanes decided to again address positional need. Like Pesce, Ganly is described as a defensive defenseman who is known for blocking shots rather than putting up points.
Discovered by scouts who were watching seventh overall draft pick Darnell Nurse (EDM), Ganly stood out as a positionally sound teammate. He is sure to get more ice time and maybe even a top defensive pairing role if Nurse finds his way to the defense desperate Edmonton Oilers next season.
The good news is that Ganly's skating has made leaps and strides since his start in the OHL. While he may never light the world on fire offensively, should his mobility improve he could develop into a formidable third pairing shutdown defenseman.