Hurricanes Top 20 prospects
Any future assessment of 2007 draft picks for Carolina has to include the acquisition of a guy named Stanley. Carolina’s 2007 second-round pick was peddled off last year when the club obtained Mark Recchi from the Pittsburgh Penguins. As Recchi was a key cog in the Hurricanes Stanley Cup championship season, it was a pick well used.
The 2006-07 wasn’t so memorable, however, leaving the Hurricanes with a higher-than-desired position in the draft in return for missing the playoffs. In addition, the organization finds itself woefully thin in its the minor league system, with its few blue-chippers having already found their way to the big leagues in players like Eric Staal, Andrew Ladd, and netminder Cam Ward.
Entering this year’s draft, the club retains the rights to all its own picks, save for that second rounder. Picking 11th in each round, the Hurricanes have an opportunity to add some depth and quality to a prospect pool that’s woefully shallow.
The Hurricanes have a need to see their prospects develop rather quickly as many of the key contributors on the Hurricanes’ roster are getting up in age, such as Rod Brind’Amour, Ray Whitney, Corey Stillman, Frantisek Kaberle, and the injured Bret Hedican.
The top priority for Carolina should be a third-line center, and that position should not be difficult to fill either via trade or the free agent market. Forwards generally are of more need than defensemen. Goaltending is set for the near future as well.
About the only thing that can be said in terms of strengths of the prospect pool is that the club has some depth between the pipes. The list begins with Justin Peters, who in his first professional season in the AHL, showed a bit of the talents needed to step up to the next level, but also showed he needs to work on his consistency. Behind Peters, there are serviceable prospect netminders like Daniel Manzato, Magnus Akerlund, and Kevin Nastiuk.
The biggest organizational weakness the Hurricanes have is that they haven’t put much of a premium on stocking and developing prospects. They share both their AHL and ECHL affiliates, and keep fewer players under contract than most teams. Unfortunately, as that Stanley Cup-winning foundation starts to age, cracks begin to appear – which is what we saw with the organization dropping out of the playoff hunt. But the replacements just aren’t there to knock on the door.
There is a noticeable lack of talent both up front and on the blueline among the prospects. And there are no sure-fire blue chippers amongst any of the club’s prospects – even Peters poses as many questions as he offers answers.
The last two drafts have seen the Hurricanes head the US collegiate-bound route for their first selections, beginning with Jack Johnson in 2005 and continuing last year with their selection of Jamie McBain 63rd overall, who attends the University of Wisconsin. In fact, over the past two seasons, seven of their picks went on to join the NCAA ranks.
The one thing that it’s safe to say Carolina won’t do is take a risk with a high pick on a player from overseas – which is most likely a result of the club’s amateur scouting focus, or lack thereof. In fact, over the past five drafts only two of 36 players taken were from overseas clubs: Risto Korhonen (5th round 2005) and Magnus Akerlund (5th round 2004).
Hockey’s Future 2007 Mock Draft Result: Kevin Shattenkirk, D, USNTDP.
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