Hurricanes 2001 draft evaluation

By Glen Jackson

The Carolina Hurricanes drafted eight players in 2001 including two goalies, four defensemen and two forwards. They drafted three players who were available for their second NHL Entry Draft, (Mike Zigomanis, Rob Zepp and Peter Reynolds) and who were originally selected by different teams in 1999.

Zigomanis, the ‘Canes second round pick in 2001, is the only selection that has played in the NHL, giving the Hurricanes an NHL games-played draft average of 7 games per pick. The rest of the selections amount to a collective bust, although a few still have an outside shot of playing in the NHL.

Igor Knyazev, D – 1st round, 15th overall
Status: NHL bust
NHL Games Played: 0

There were high hopes for this first round pick of the ‘Canes in 2001 after continued strong play in Russia. At the 2002 World Juniors he would again increase expectations when he had two goals and an assist in seven games for the gold medal winning team, and following the tournament he was named Best Defenseman of the tournament.

In 2002-03 Carolina got Knyazev over to North America with a three-year contract and he played in 68 games for the Lowell Lock Monsters of the AHL, scoring two goals and five assists and a -22 plus/minus rating. Apparently the Hurricanes were no longer impressed with their first round selection and they sent him, and David Tanabe, who’d also fallen out of favor with management, to the Phoenix Coyotes for Daniil Markov in June of 2003.

The following season Knyazev played in the AHL again, this time with Springfield. Again he had seven points on the season, and his plus/minus was -10. Following the 2003-04 season Knyazev returned home and has played the past two seasons there. Many speculated that Knyazev was never able to adjust to the smaller ice surface in North America and his two seasons in the AHL were somewhat forgettable.

Mike Zigomanis, C – 2nd round, 46th overall
Status: NHL player/prospect
NHL Games Played: 59

Originally drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the second round of the 1999 draft, Zigomanis went unsigned when his offensive production took a slight dip in 2000-01 in the OHL. The Hurricanes jumped at the chance to draft Zigomanis in 2001, again in the second round but slightly higher than the Sabres had taken him, and in 2001-02 they moved him directly to the AHL with the Lowell Lock Monsters.

Zigomanis would go on to have 48 points in his rookie season and would get a shot at the NHL the very next year, scoring two goals and an assist in 19 games with the Hurricanes. The following season he got a second shot at playing for the ‘Canes but in 17 games he managed only three assists. However, in the AHL he never had much of a problem producing and he has collected 232 career AHL points in 293 games.

Hurricanes General Manager Jim Rutherford grew tired of waiting for Zigomanis’ AHL prowess to transfer over to the NHL and in the summer before the 2004-05 season he essentially offered the restricted free agent a minimum one-year contract or nothing. Rutherford also disclosed that he had attempted to trade Zigomanis but could find no takers. Zigomanis took the contract and during the NHL lockout he had another decent AHL campaign and in 2005-06 the ‘Canes would give Ziggy his last shot with the franchise. He appeared in 19 games for Carolina and scored a lone goal and no assists before being demoted to Lowell in early December. Near the end of January he was recalled for two games in a lead-up to the big trade with St. Louis which saw, for one, Doug Weight come to Carolina, and opened the door to the Blues for Zigomanis. He had 28 points in 28 games for Peoria and in two games with the Blues he had no points.

Zigomanis is definitely a pro-caliber player, but he has yet to show that he belongs in the NHL and one has to wonder how many more chances he will have.

Kevin Estrada, F – 3rd round, 91st overall
Status: NHL prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

The Hurricanes drafted Estrada in the third round after he had 118 points in 59 games for the Chilliwack Chiefs of the BCHL. Estrada moved on to Michigan State University the next year but he never developed into much of a scorer at the collegiate level, with his best year being 2003-04 when he had six goals and ten assists.

Despite not being very productive offensively the small, strong skating forward was rewarded with a two-year, $900,000 contract from the Hurricanes in October 2005 and turned pro this year. He began the season in Lowell but soon found himself demoted to the ECHL’s Florida Everblades. He stayed on for seven games and had six points and was called back up to Lowell. Overall on the season he had only 15 points in 59 games for the Lock Monsters. At the end of the season he was returned to Florida for the playoffs and in eight games he collected five more points.

Estrada has one more year on his contract and it remains to be seen if he can be effective at the AHL level, let alone the NHL.

Rob Zepp, G – 4th round, 110th overall
Status: NHL bust
NHL Games Played: 0

Originally drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers in 1999, he agreed to a contract with the club in 2001, but the lateness of a fax to the league office meant that Zepp went back into the draft.

In 2000-01, he had a strong season for the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers in which he was a second team All Star and shared the distinction of being part of the best goaltending tandem in the OHL when he had a 34-18-3 record, a 2.26 goals against average and .916 save percentage. He was also part of the league’s best team goaltending in 1998-99.

The Hurricanes signed Zepp and he would perform well for the ECHL’s Florida Everblades, including a run to the Kelly Cup final in 2003-04 when he had eight wins and three losses, but the ‘Canes elected to let Zepp head over to Europe to play this season in the Finnish league for SaiPa Lappeenranta. He had an 18-16-9 record there with a 2.04 goals against average and .929 save percentage.

Zepp had strong pro potential but was perhaps a victim of the overloaded ‘Canes system. He ended up playing in only seven AHL games for Lowell but was never able to stick, especially when Carolina was sharing an affiliation.

Daniel Boisclair, G – 6th round, 181st overall
Status: NHL bust
NHL Games Played: 0

Another round, another Hurricanes’ goaltending pick.

Boisclair was drafted following a decent workhorse season for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the QMJHL. The following season he suited up for the Victoriaville Tigres for only 15 regular season games, but in the playoffs he began to shine, leading the Tigres from the crease to a Q championship and Memorial Cup appearance. The Memorial Cup began slowly for Boisclair in the Tigres and they lost the first two round robin games, but they then won their final round robin game, tiebreaker and then semi-final match in overtime to reach the final game of the CHL season. The Kootenay Ice pulled out a 6-3 victory over Boisclair’s Tigres, but the ‘Canes liked what they saw from the native of St. Augustin, Quebec and signed him to a rookie contract.

Just four games into the 2002-03 season for the Florida Everblades, Boisclair was diagnosed with a serious illness. His body was fighting against itself, destroying his red blood cells. His bout with anemia resulted in much time spent in hospital and the removal of his spleen. He worked hard on his recovery and made it back into the Florida nets in 2003-04, but only for two games. With so many goalies under contract to the Hurricanes at the time, the franchise loaned Boisclair out to two other ECHL teams to get a total of 32 games played on the season. One highlight was a record breaking 65-save performance for the Greenville Grrrowl in a 2-1 victory.

Injury troubles aside, Boisclair also suffered from poor goaltending technique, relying on his quickness to make saves. Higher levels of hockey exposed his weaknesses.

In 2004-05 Boisclair played in the CHL, and in 2005-06 he disappeared from professional hockey altogether.

Sean Curry, D – 7th round, 211th overall
Status: NHL bust
NHL Games Played: 0

Curry, for a time, was a sweetheart of the Hurricanes front office mainly because of his size (6’4, 230 lbs) and decent hockey ability. A former WHL standout for the Tri-City Americans and Medicine Hat Tigers, Curry was signed after his final season in the WHL.

In 2002-03 Curry would play 32 games for the Florida Everblades, but he has yet to return to that league, sticking in the AHL first for Lowell for two and a half seasons. The Hurricanes liked Curry but with a financial crunch, and some question about whether he had the ability on defense to make the NHL, they elected to let him go and he signed for 2005-06 with the Providence Bruins.

This season he played 72 games for the Bruins and collected eight points with a +10 plus/minus ranking. Although not outstanding through his AHL career, Curry has shown that he has what it takes to at least remain at the American League level for another year, but it’s unclear whether he will be picked up by another NHL team in the future.

Carter Trevisani, D – 8th round, 244th overall
Status: NHL bust
NHL Games Played: 0

Trevisani played about half of his 2000-01 season with Ohio State before joining the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s. He spent the next two and a half seasons on the blue line for the 67’s and was a decent producer offensively, scoring eight goals and adding 28 assists in 67 games.

In 2003-04 he found his way to Italy to play for Varese and he continued to perform well as a two-way defender, scoring 14 goals. The 2005-06 season was his third year of hockey in Italy for the transplanted Canadian of Italian decent, and he had 32 points in 42 games for Asiago.

Although he never made the North American pro leagues, Trevisani did score on an NHL goaltender in 2006. Trevisani was one of eight Canadians with Italian lineage who represented Italy as the Torino games. In Italy’s match versus Switzerland, Trevisani scored on the power play, beating David Aebischer in what would be an eventual 3-3 tie.

Peter Reynolds, D – 9th round, 274th overall
Status: NHL bust
NHL Games Played: 0

Reynolds lived the dream for a while but fell short of realizing his goal of playing in the NHL. First drafted in the second round of the 1999 draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Reynolds was a physical two-way defender who held some pro potential. Following the 2000-01 season with the OHL’s North Bay Centennials the Leafs gave Reynolds a look at the AHL level with the St. John’s Maple Leafs for two regular season contests and one in the playoffs, but elected not to sign him.

He went back into the draft pool and the ‘Canes selected him with their final pick. He was signed and most of his 2001-02 season was played for the Lowell Lock Monsters where he had a goal and two assists in 45 games, and that would be his last extended stay at the AHL level. The next two seasons were mostly spent in the ECHL between the Florida Everblades and Augusta Lynx as he never developed an effective pro game.

This season he appeared in eight games for the Ontario Senior League’s Cambridge Hornets. That team has a number of other fallen NHL players and draft picks including former Hurricanes/Whalers/Oilers right wing Steven Rice.

Copyright 2006 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.