Hurricanes 2007 draft review

By Cory Lavalette

For the Carolina Hurricanes, the 2007 NHL Entry Draft wasn’t all that unlike a family reunion. The Hurricanes kicked off their draft by selecting the latest prospect from hockey’s first family, and later chose a forward and a defenseman from the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers — who happen to be owned by Hurricanes CEO Peter Karmanos Jr. — with its final two choices. Those picks sandwiched two more selections on the draft’s second day, giving the Hurricanes four forwards and one blueliner in its draft class.
                                                                                   
The Hurricanes were without a second round pick going into the draft, having dealt it to Pittsburgh in the package for Mark Recchi at the 2006 trade deadline, a deal that helped propel Carolina to the Stanley Cup. The Hurricanes also dealt their seventh round pick to Montreal at the draft, acquiring journeyman goaltender Michael Leighton to provide depth with their AHL affiliate in Albany and give them another netminder with NHL experience in case of injury.

The draft also served as the swan song for director of amateur scouting Sheldon Ferguson who, after 12 years with the Hurricanes, left to become general manager of the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit. Tony MacDonald, an amateur scout for Carolina since 1994, was named his replacement.

Brandon Sutter, C/RW, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
First round, 11th overall

There were numerous worthy players available for the Hurricanes when general manager Jim Rutherford stepped to the lectern to make the 11th selection in the 2007 Entry Draft. With the Hurricanes’ selection, Rutherford went with a known entity, selecting the latest in a long line of Sutters.
 
In two seasons in the WHL, Sutter has become a reliable scorer, netting 22 and 20 goals playing for his father, Brent, in Red Deer. But it is the legendary Sutter traits that make Brandon stand out from other prospects. Sutter displays the same work ethic and drive as his father and six uncles, and plays a solid two-way game. He has a much bigger frame than any of his famous relatives, measuring nearly 6’3, yet knows he needs to fill out in order to reach his full potential.
 
“I think my No. 1 thing is my strength,” Sutter said. “I have to keep getting bigger. I know it’s going to come, I just have to be patient.”
 
Given the Hurricanes thin prospect pool, Sutter should move to near the top of the pile and could conceivably be fast-tracked to the NHL, though 2007-08 seems too soon for the lanky forward.
 
“I’ve never been down (to Raleigh), but I look forward to getting down,” he said. “It’s great — they won the Cup two years ago. It’s pretty exciting.”
 
Drayson Bowman, C/LW, Spokane Chiefs (WHL)
Third round, 72nd overall
 
With their first selection of Day 2 of the draft, the Hurricanes took the Chiefs’ Bowman, a speedy forward with some scoring upside. Bowman tallied 24 goals and 19 assists last season for Spokane, improving on his 17-goal, 17-assist campaign in 2005-06. He also helped the Chiefs’ to their first postseason appearance in three years. He had two goals and five assists in a six-game, first-round playoff loss to the CHL’s top-ranked Everett Silvertips.
 
Justin McCrae, C, Saskatoon Blades (WHL)
Fourth round, 102nd overall
 
While some expected the Hurricanes to improve its blueline depth in the draft, they instead continued to bolster their forward corps with the selection of McCrae, a gritty, two-way player who is among the best defensive forwards in the draft.
 
McCrae had 16 goals last season in Saskatoon, one less than the previous season, but had his best point output since coming to the WHL, finishing with 49 points and adding 98 penalty minutes. He is a leader in the locker room and refuses to be outworked on the ice.
 
Chris Terry, C, Plymouth Whalers (OHL)
Fifth round, 132nd overall
 
Terry became the latest in a long line of Plymouth Whalers to join the Hurricanes’ family, but the first selected by the club since Jonas Fiedler was chosen in the eighth round in 2004 after he re-entered the draft. Among the other Hurricanes with Plymouth ties are Justin Williams, Chad LaRose and Justin Peters.
 
“I had ideas (I could go to Carolina), obviously with Mr. Karmanos owning (both the Hurricanes and Whalers),” Terry said. “It’s a privilege to be drafted by such a great organization … I’m honored and I’m excited.”
 
The 5-10, 195-pound center had 22 goals and 44 assists in 68 games for Plymouth in the regular-season last year, and continued his near point-per-game pace during the Whalers’ run to the 2007 OHL title, finishing with eight goals and 10 assists in 20 games.  He was held pointless in five Memorial Cup games. With many of the Whalers’ top players signing NHL deals following the season, Terry will have to carry more of the scoring load next season.
 
Brett Bellemore, D, Plymouth Whalers (OHL)
Sixth round, 162nd overall
 
Carolina finally went defense with what ended up being their final choice in the 2007 draft, selecting Bellemore, a 6-4, 194-pound blueliner, with the 162nd pick. Another product of the Whalers organization (the 13th selected by Carolina from either Plymouth or the Detroit Junior Red Wings, the previous home of the Plymouth franchise, since 1994), Bellemore led the OHL in plus/minus (plus-48) and was named the Whalers’ most improved player following the 2006-07 season. Bellemore, a stay-at-home defenseman, has yet to score in two years with Plymouth, notching just 12 assists in 50 games last season after not registering a point in 2005-06. Bellemore had six assists in 25 postseason games last year.
 
Contributing writers: Glen Erickson, Holly Gunning

Copyright 2007 Hockey’s Future.  Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.