Hurricanes 2009 draft preview

By Cory Lavalette

Top 10 prospects

1. Zach Boychuk, C
2. Brandon Sutter, C
3. Drayson Bowman, LW
4. Jamie McBain, D
5. Zac Dalpe, C
6. Mike Murphy, G
7. Brett Carson, D
8. Casey Borer, D
9. Chris Terry, LW
10. Kyle Lawson, D

Due to their surprising run to the Eastern Conference Finals, the Carolina Hurricanes are slotted 27th in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft order, the first of four slots held for the conference finalists.

While their success does mean a later first round pick, the Hurricanes actually benefit in Round 2. Following the three-team trade deadline acquisition of Erik Cole from Edmonton, it appeared Carolina would select farther back in the second round because they had Calgary’s pick instead of their own. Instead, the Canes are set to select 51st in the second instead of choosing 58th (Toronto will pick there).

On top of their on-ice success in 2008-09, Carolina’s early returns on last year’s draft look promising. First- and second-round picks Zach Boychuk and Zac Dalpe both had productive seasons with Lethbridge (WHL) and Ohio State, respectively. Plymouth (OHL) defenseman Michal Jordan, the team’s fourth-round pick, nearly doubled his scoring output this season. Goaltender Mike Murphy looks like a steal. The sixth-rounder won his second-straight OHL Goaltender of the Year Award in 2008-09 with Belleville (OHL) and will begin his pro career next season. Their final pick, seventh-rounder Samuel Morneau, also improved his statistics on a poor Val d’Or (QMJHL) team.

Team Needs

Despite depth up front, Carolina will likely look for a forward in the first round. General manager Jim Rutherford has expressed his reluctance several times to use his No. 1 pick on defense, a position he would rather fill through trade or free agency than slowly develop. But expect the team’s second- or third-round pick — or both — to be used on defense. The team could use another goalie, but the need for top-end talent is not a priority and, frankly, not available this year. If the team does select a goaltender, expect them to use a later-round pick to do so.

Organizational Strengths

In the past few drafts, Carolina has gone a long way toward replenishing a prospect pool that was considered among the NHL’s shallowest. With top-end talent like Boychuk, Sutter, Bowman and Dalpe added the past two drafts, the forward corps looks the best it has in years. The addition of Murphy to the pro ranks further stabilizes the team in net, but 2004 second-rounder Justin Peters is not a sure thing, and Daniel Manzato’s future with the organization is in doubt.

Organizational Weaknesses

The Canes could always use more can’t-miss players in their system, but the team has made huge strides the past couple years. The most pressing need is more depth on the blueline. The team has several young defensemen that are close to NHL-ready, but there are not many sure-fire blueliners outside of McBain.

Draft Tendencies

As mentioned earlier, Rutherford is unlikely to use his first-round pick on defense. The organization has also leaned toward choosing OHL and WHL players the past couple years, having chosen just one player each from the QMJHL (Morneau) and NCAA player (Dalpe). The team even tried to steer the latter to Plymouth instead of Ohio State. Carolina has also had limited success choosing players from overseas. The team hasn’t chosen a European-based player since 2005, and Nic Wallin — a fourth-rounder in 2000 — is the last player the team has drafted from Europe and developed into an NHLer.

The Picks

The Hurricanes have five picks in this year’s draft (one each in the first, second, third, fifth and sixth rounds). As mentioned earlier, they will select higher in the second round than the others due to their trade with the Kings. The team’s fourth-round pick was sent to Tampa Bay as part of the February trade that landed the team Jussi Jokinen. At the trade deadline, the Maple Leafs acquired the pick from the Lightning, but the pick is being forfeited due to a CBA infraction incurred from the signing of Jonas Frogren. Carolina’s seventh-round pick was traded to Nashville last offseason for the rights to negotiate with free agent Darcy Hordichuk. Since the Canes were unable to sign Hordichuk, they will have the Predators’ seventh-rounder in 2010.

Hockey’s Future Staff Mock Draft Result: Peter Holland, C, Guelph (OHL)

The Canes will be looking to get bigger in Round 1, and Holland fits the bill. While the 6’2" center is not known as an overly physical player, his skill set is too good to pass on if he slides this far. Some of the scouting on Holland suggests his game lacks consistency, and that he doesn’t put everything into the game. But he’s also been described as calculating and creative with the puck, willing to go to the net, defensively responsible, and solid on faceoffs — all attributes the Canes covet up in a forward.

Center Drew Shore was also available at No. 27, and he could be considered if available. He’s more physical than Holland but not considered as good a scorer. Holland’s OHL ties — compared to Shore, who is set to go to the University of Denver next year — make him the more likely selection, based on Carolina’s tendencies.