Carolina Hurricanes used 2009 draft to bolster NHL lineup

By Cory Lavalette

Rasmus Rissanen - Carolina Hurricanes

Photo: Defenseman Rasmus Rissanen is the only member of Carolina’s 2009 draft class who is still with the Hurricanes organization. Rissanen was selected in the 6th round of the 2009 NHL Draft. (courtesy of Jamie Kellner/HF)

In the summer of 2009, the Carolina Hurricanes were coming off a surprising run to the Eastern Conference finals, meaning the team would choose near the bottom of the draft.

Carolina wound up selecting three forwards and three defenseman with their six picks, but more than half of them would later be traded.

Philippe Paradis, LW, Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL) – 1st round, 27th overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

The Hurricanes went off the board in selecting Paradis, a potential power forward known for his booming shot. It was also a surprising choice because the Hurricanes had a reputation of not selecting QMJHL players. Since relocating to North Carolina before the 1997-98 season, the team hadn't used a first- or second-round pick on a QMJHL player until they chose Paradis at 27th overall.

It did not take the Hurricanes long to decide they should have gone a different direction. The team dealt Paradis' rights to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Jiri Tlusty less than six months after picking him. Paradis has since been traded two more times, going to the Blackhawks in 2010 as part of the trade that brought Kris Versteeg to Toronto, and then going to Tampa Bay in exchange for former 2009 seventh-round pick Kirill Gotovets in April of 2013.

While Paradis remains in the Lightning system, he has been unable to grow into a legitimate NHL prospect. In 134 AHL games, he has managed just seven goals and 23 assists and has not scored a goal since January 11th, 2013.

Brian Dumoulin, D, New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs (EJHL) – 2nd round, 51st overall
Status: NHL prospect
NHL Games Played: 6

Dumoulin, the youngest draft-eligible player in the 2009 draft, was a lanky project when the Hurricanes chose him 51st overall. But he quickly developed into a bona fide top defensive prospect during his three years at Boston College, winning national titles in two of his three years, including being named to the all-tournament team in 2012 during his junior season with Eagles.

But two months after Dumoulin signed his entry-level contract in the spring of 2012, he was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins, along with Brandon Sutter and Carolina's eighth overall pick, in exchange for center Jordan Staal.

After a flurry of injuries to the Pittsburgh blue line this season, Dumoulin made his NHL debut with the Penguins on December 14th, 2013, and played six games before being reassigned to Wilkes-Barre of the AHL. He recorded his first and, thus far, only NHL point on December 16th against Toronto.

Mattias Lindstrom, LW, Skelleftea Jrs. (SEL) – 3rd round, 88th overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

The Hurricanes had high hopes for Lindstrom, a big, physical winger whose combination of size and willingness to get to the dirty areas had some comparing him to fellow countryman Tomas Holmstrom.

But Lindstrom's career was quickly derailed by a knee injury that limited him to just 11 games in the two years after he was drafted. Still, Carolina took a chance on Lindstrom and signed him to an entry-level contract, allowing him to return to Sweden for another year before taking his shot in North America.

Before he came back, however, he was dealt to Florida in a two-for-two swap of minor league players. Lindstrom finally came to North America last season, playing in a bottom six role for Florida's ECHL affiliate in Cincinnati. He has not played this season due to an undisclosed injury.

Matt Kennedy, RW, Guelph Storm (OHL) – 5th round, 131st overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

After a 33-goal season with the Storm, Kennedy was selected by Carolina with its fifth-round pick. After one more year in the OHL, he joined the Hurricanes' AHL affiliate in Charlotte for the 2010-11 season. After eight games with one assist, Kennedy was dealt, along with fellow minor leaguer Stefan Chaput, to Anaheim for veteran center Ryan Carter.

Kennedy never found his scoring touch in the pros, managing just six goals in 120 career AHL games. Following the 2012-13 season in which Kennedy played just 21 combined games with Norfolk of the AHL and Fort Wayne of the ECHL, the Ducks declined to offer Kennedy a qualifying offer. He is currently an unrestricted free agent.

Rasmus Rissanen, D, Kalpa Jr. (SM-Liiga) – 6th round, 178th overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

The Hurricanes are probably hoping that Rissanen can follow the same path of fellow sixth-rounder Brett Bellemore, who played parts of six seasons with Carolina's AHL affiliates before getting his shot in the NHL and holding on to a top-six role with the club.

Rissanen is in his third full season with the Charlotte Checkers, Carolina's AHL affiliate, and has established himself as a physical force on the back end. Like Bellemore, his offensive upside is extremely limited – Rissanen has just four goals and 17 assists in 152 AHL games through January 23rd – but he has carved out a spot in the Checkers' defense corps the past three years by being reliable in his own end.

Rissanen has an uphill climb to reach the NHL. While he will make a big hit, he is not the type to drop the gloves, and that may be an element he has to add to make an impression on the Carolina front office. For example, Bellemore doubled his career AHL fights last season, fighting 11 times after doing so that many times all together in the previous three years, and found himself earning a promotion to Carolina when the team was hit with injuries on the blue line.

Rissanen is still only 22, so there is time for him to grow and improve. He will be a restricted free agent after this season.

Tommi Kivisto, D, Red Deer Rebels (WHL) – 7th round, 208th overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

Fellow Finnish defenseman Kivisto took an opposite path as Rissanen, opting to leave North America after being drafted to return to his homeland. After three years with Jokerit Helsinki in SM-Liiga, Kivisto returned to join the Hurricanes system last season, playing the majority of the year with the ECHL's Florida Everblades and 17 games with the Checkers.

Apparently that was not enough of an opportunity for Kivisto. He returned to SM-Liiga for the 2013-14 season, this time with Ilves Tampere, and has 10 points in 39 games through January 23rd. The Hurricanes still hold Kivisto's rights, but chances are he will not be back in North America with the organization.