Hurricanes junior prospect season review

By Camron Ghorbi

OHL

Bobby Hughes, C – Kingston Frontenacs
4th round, 123rd overall, 2006

Nineteen-year-old Kingston Frontenacs center Bobby Hughes made an expected leap forward in 2006-07.  Hughes missed the first 100-point season of his young career by only four points, recording 40 goals and 56 points in just 59 games for an impressive 96-point campaign, and finished 10th in the OHL regular-season scoring race.  Hughes, who had three points during a five-game playoff series exit against the Oshawa Generals, certainly played on a talented Frontenacs squad, but with top forward Cory Emmerton (DET) suffering an early-season ankle injury, Hughes was forced to make up for a lot of missing offense.  Luckily for the Frontenacs, the Eastern Conference All-Star proved he was quite capable; while his plus/minus dipped from +9 to -2, his 76 PIM and jump in scoring by 21 points from 2005-06 displayed unmistakable promise for the young forward in an organization lacking standout offensive talent.  He missed eight games with a knee strain late in the season, but returned in mid-March.

Signed to an entry-level contract last week, Hughes will more than likely play next season with the Canes’ AHL affiliate Albany River Rats.  He joined the team on Apr. 10 when his junior season ended.

Harrison Reed, RW – Sarnia Sting
3rd round, 93rd overall, 2006

Despite playing in a much less star-studded offense than Hughes has been in Kingston, Harrison Reed had quite a sophomore season for himself with the Sarnia Sting.  After a relatively slow start, Reed finished the season with 81 points in 67 games — a top-30 finish in OHL regular-season scoring.  One of the most impressive numbers for Reed this season was his jump in assists; he more than doubled his 24 assists from 2005-06 with 52 helpers this year.  The Sting, who had the worst regular season record two years ago, made the playoffs in 2006-07 with a 34-24-5-5 record due in large part to Harrison’s contributions. His outstanding play on the top power-play unit combined with a jump in plus/minus (from -31 to -3) helped the Sting offense finish fourth in the Western Conference in goals per game.  While teammate Steve Stamkos made perhaps the most notable impact for the Sting (finishing 12th in the OHL in scoring as a rookie), Reed’s sophomore performance was undoubtedly notable as well.

Jakub Vojta, D – Ottawa 67’s
4th round, 94th overall, 2005

Vojta suffered through easily the most disappointing season of all the Canes OHL prospects in his second with the Ottawa 67’s.  The Czech native, a former No. 1 pick in the CHL Import Draft, had a solid 2005-06 season with his new team, recording 24 points in 65 games, a +12 rating and over 100 penalty minutes on the blueline for the 67’s.  His sophomore season, however, was a different story – not only was his point production down (from .37 points per game to .28), but his plus/minus dropped to -19. 

Vojta, known for his offensive talents and passing skills on the backline, must be signed by June 1 to retain his rights.

QMJHL

Nicolas Blanchard, C/LW – Chicoutimi Sagueneens
6th round, 192nd overall, 2005

After a particularly slow start, Blanchard picked up his play for the Sagueneens as the season progressed en route to a playoff appearance for his Q club.  Playing on an offense-deprived club in Chicoutimi, Blanchard recorded 22 goals and 35 assists for 57 points in 62 games as a 19-year-old center.  The Sagueneen team defense was unquestionably better than its offense in 2006-07 (recording the third-fewest goals allowed margin in the league), and while Blanchard’s offensive output was fourth-highest on the team, his steady plus/minus rating -1 was a huge improvement from where he was at the beginning of the season.  For a team that scored so few goals (third fewest in that department as well), Blanchard’s totals remained constant throughout the season.

The Granby, Que. native must be signed by June 1, having already joined the AHL affiliate for seven games this season.

Stefan Chaput, C – Lewiston MAINEiacs
5th round, 153rd overall, 2006

Playing on a loaded Lewiston squad that finished the regular season with an astounding 50 wins, Chaput filled a third-line center role for a team dependent on two-way forwards.  Although he finished ninth on the team in scoring, his play on the backcheck and on the penalty kill were most valuable for the first-place MAINEiacs.  His regular season plus/minus rating of +23 was typical of the 19-year-old; he rarely makes mistakes and puts on tough defensive pressure in his own end.  With 17 goals and 29 assists for 46 points in 57 games, Chaput displayed the ability to handle his own in the offensive end of the ice as well.  He brings decent size and relentless aggression every time he steps on the ice, but he still lacks separation in offensive firepower which may end up hurting his chances in the end.  Regardless, his season with Lewiston proved a valuable one and is very indicative of his talents as a potential checking-line forward for the Hurricanes in the future.    

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