The Carolina Hurricanes parted company with one of the highest profile college prospects when they traded Jack Johnson to the Los Angeles Kings in a four-player deal Sept. 29. Another promising defensive prospect vanished from the system when Nate Hagemo was forced to retire in October due to shoulder troubles. Despite those key losses, the Hurricanes still have a number of strong NCAA prospects with good upside, all but one of whom are defenseman.
Nick Dodge, RW Clarkson Junior – 5’10, 184 lbs
6th round, 183rd overall in 2006
Dodge was a leader for the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League’s (OPJHL) Oakville Blades before the Clarkson Golden Knights lured him to NCAA hockey, where most of the better provincial junior league players end up. Dodge was a captain and MVP with the Blades, and it appears he has continued to stay on target in his development as he’s still scoring in bunches and is also in his second season in a leadership role on the Knights. In 2005-06 as a sophomore, he was the Team MVP and he led all Knights in scoring.
Through 29 games so far in 2006-07, Dodge has 16 goals, 19 assists for 35 points, putting him in a tie for third in scoring in the ECAC and he once again leads the Knights, who are in second place in the conference. Personally, Dodge is fourth best in the conference for both goals (16) and power-play points (19), and third for power-play goals (8).
The reason for Dodge’s ascension in importance to the Knights goes beyond scoring prowess. He’s a true competitor who does well on face-offs and who has a good head for the game in all roles including penalty killing.
In December, Dodge earned a substantial honor when he led the Knights to a perfect 5-0-0 record with his strong play and 11 points and extremely effective penalty killing, and for that he was named the National Player of the Month.
Casey Borer, D St. Cloud Senior – 6’2, 197 lbs
3rd round, 69th overall in 2004
In 30 games for the Huskies, captain Casey Borer has one goal and five assists along with 22 minutes in penalties. The defensive defenseman has continued to be a dominant leader into his final year of college hockey. Before St. Cloud, Borer played with Shattuck-St. Mary’s prep school.
The man at St. Cloud, Borer has spent years playing against the opposition’s best lines, killing penalties, and providing stability in the Huskies end of the rink. A third round pick in 2004, it would not be a surprise if the Hurricanes sign Borer at the conclusion of this NCAA season to give him a taste of AHL hockey with the Albany River Rats.
Borer has good size and can move the puck well, and when not leading during the games he helps instruct his younger teammates on game strategy and that has made him a true leader for the Huskies, who find themselves in second in the WCHA conference
Jamie McBain, D University of Wisconsin Freshman – 6’2, 190 lbs
2nd round, 63rd overall in 2006
This native of Edina, Minnesota has appeared in 27 games this season for the Badgers, collecting three goals, 12 assists and 20 penalty minutes. McBain missed time over the holidays when he represented his country at the World Junior Championships in Sweden. McBain was used somewhat sparingly in the tournament, however, and finished with just one shot on goal and two minutes in penalties. Like Borer, McBain played for Shattuck-St. Mary’s and has been groomed by the U.S. national program.
Despite missing five Badger games, McBain is currently fifth in team scoring and all three of his goals have come on the power play, one of which was a game winner. The Hurricanes have high hopes for this two-way defenseman and so far the second-round draft pick is developing well.
Kyle Lawson, D Notre Dame Freshman – 5’11, 192 lbs
7th round, 198th overall in 2005
Lawson also represented the U.S. in Sweden and had a better than expected tournament as a teammate of McBain. He was a +1 in seven games for the bronze medal winners. Also like McBain, Lawson is a former member of the U.S. National Team Development Program.
With Notre Dame this season, Lawson has appeared in 30 games and has three goals and 13 assists along with five minor penalties. Two of his goals have come on the power play.
Lawson spent the 2005-06 season with the Tri-City Storm of the USHL where he led the team in scoring among blueliners. The offensive-defenseman brings good discipline and ability to the table, and at this point it looks like he was a great pick in the seventh round of the 2005 draft.
Tim Kunes, D Boston College Sophomore – 6’1, 170 lbs
5th round, 145th overall in 2005
Kunes entered his sophomore year at Boston College having scored a goal and added three assists in 28 games. Kunes was touted as a physical two-way defenseman after the 2004-05 with New England of the EJHL where he had 40 points in 50 games but in his freshman season of college he wasn’t able to get as much ice time as a young developing blueliner would like with the Eagles deep defensive corps.
Thus far in 2006-07, the native of Red Bank, NJ has an identical point total to 2005-06 (4), with 20 games played thus far, and again the missed games are mostly due to not being able to capture a roster spot.
Tyson Strachan, D Ohio State Senior – 6’3, 205 lbs
5th round, 174th overall in 2003
A broken wrist around the mid-point of last season held Strachan to 23 games as a junior, but he still managed a career-best three goals. Through his first three seasons of college hockey, Strachan collected 17 points total, with seven in his freshman year being his best.
This season the native of Melfort, Saskatchewan is finally living up to the expectations the ‘Canes had for him back in 2003 when they drafted him in the fifth round. As a senior he’s scored four goals (two on the power play) and added nine assists in 30 games. Strachan has always been considered a fringe prospect, so it will be interesting to see if the ‘Canes sign him to a pro contract at the end of this season.
Justin Krueger, D Cornell Freshman – 6’3, 205 lbs
7th round, 213th overall in 2006
After spending the 2005-06 season with the Penticton Vees of the BCHL, this native of Davos, Switzerland made the jump to NCAA with the Cornell Big Red. In 27 games Krueger one goal and five assists and he’s had 12 minor penalties, helping to Cornell to third in their conference.
Krueger represented Team Germany at the 2006 World Under-17 tournament and is the son of Hurricanes European scout Ralph Krueger, who also coaches the Swiss National Team. He’s got decent foot speed and appears to be adjusting fairly well to the college game after being the very last pick of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
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