David Tanabe, defenseman for the University of Wisconsin Badgers, and their third leading scorer during the 1998-1999 season, has elected to turn pro with the Carolina Hurricanes. The Hurricanes chose Tanabe in the first round of the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. He was the sixteenth overall pick. The 6’1′ 195 pound nineteen year old, was a true freshman this past season for the Badgers, thus foregoing three years of eligibility. This is the first time the school has lost a true freshman to the pros. Curtis Joseph also left the University of Wisconsin program after only one year.
Tanabe was named to the 1999 WCHA All-rookie team. An excellent skater and passer, he has a hard, accurate shot. The CSB had ranked him twenty-seventh this year. Tanabe will fill the need of an offensive defenseman in the Canes system. It is expected that he will see time with the Florida Everblades of the ECHL and the Cincinnati Cyclones of the IHL this season.
(Note: Since this article was written, David Tanabe has announced that he will forgo his final three years of NCAA eligibility, and may be joining Kootenay of the WHL next season)
Eight of the Carolina Hurricanes prospects have chosen to remain in college. Four centers, three left wingers, and one defenseman are hitting the books and the ice this year. Here is an overview of future Canes who are going to school.
1. Erik Cole. A third round pick in 1998, this sophomore left winger was Clarkson’s leading scorer. A dominating player, whose physical play makes him excellent along the boards. Erik led the nation in 98-99 with six shorthanded goals. At 6’0″ and 185 pounds, he scored 21 goals and 18 assists during the regular season. His junior year holds a legitimate shot at the Hobey Baker Award.
2. David Tanabe. Carolina’s first round pick in 1999, this Wisconsin freshman was named to the WCHA All-rookie Team. He was the Badgers third leading scorer with 10 goals and 12 assists. An excellent skater and passer, the 6’1″, 195 pound Tanabe could have a bright future filling in Carolina’s need for offensive defensemen.
3. Ryan Murphy. A fourth round pick by the Hurricanes in the 1999 draft netted them Bowling Green’s third leading scorer. Murphy had 9 goals and 22 assists for the Falcons. Five of his goals came on the powerplay. This left wing is 6’1″ and 185 pounds, and could develop into a real scoring threat for the Canes.
The top three picks by the Carolina Hurricanes in last months NHL Entry draft were surprised, and not always for the best. David Tanabe, Brett Lysak, and Brad Fast were taken in the first, second, and third rounds, respectively.
Carolina made Tanabe their first pick, 16th overall. The pressing need for an offensive defenseman surpassed the available players ranked higher. The Hurricanes had the worst powerplay in the NHL during the 1998-1999 season. The 11 defensemen who skated for the Canes last season combined for 15 goals in 82 regular season games. Of those 15 goals, only three came on the power play. Tanabe, on the other hand, scored ten goals in 35 games. Three of his goals won games and one came on the powerplay. This came in his freshman year at the University of Wisconsin, where he was the third highest scorer. He has stated that his development is up to the Hurricanes organization and the Minneapolis native will either return to college or sign a contract and go into the Canes system. The combination of his great skating, hard shot, and superior passing caused Carolina to pick him as the third defenseman taken in the draft, when in fact, he was ranked eighth in that category.
Eye of the Hurricane a Hurricane’s Draft Review
As the Hurricanes look to relocate for the third time in what seems as many years, they bring along two future players that could end up making a mark for themselves in Greensboro. The Canes have been seeking a good powerplay quaterback and offensive defencmen for quite sometime now. They got a good one in David Tanabe.
Tannabe played for Wisconsin this past season, and made a name for himself by sticking with the US World Junior team. Although his numbers weren’t that great, they must have been overlooked due to his age and speed. Tannabe could perhaps be the fastest defencmen in the draft. He’s alot like Bret Hedican but with more offensive potential. He makes great passes and posses a very good shot. He’s a bit below the average size for a defencmen at 6 foot 1, but he’s still growing. Canes fans will have to wait for him. He’s in the College program and it doesn’t look like he’ll opt out to get a chance to play in the NHL. That’s not a bad thing though. Most likely the Canes will wait for him, he’s got such a good package of speed and skill that the wait won’t be long. After the Canes experiment with Paul Coffey faltered it appears as though they have found an offensive defencmen that they have craved.
The Hurricanes’ top prospect this season goes by the name of Jeff Heerema. Heerema is a right winger who plays for the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario League. Heerema was drafted by the Hurricanes 11th overall in the 1998 NHL entry draft. He’s an outstanding skater who has a great shot an ability to put the puck in the net. His only real problem is strength, although that will come in time. The thing that the Hurricans like most about him is that he’s committed. He’ll pay the price to put the puck in the net. “He’s a guy who could develop into the best pure goal-scorer in our system,” said assistant GM Jason Karmanos. But Heerema is still a couple of seasons away from making a splash in Carolina, but the Hurricanes think he can become a big contributor when he arrives.