2008-09 Top 12 Prospects: Carolina Hurricanes

Shane Malloy, Prospect Insider
3/6/2009 12:18:36 PM
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Things can quickly change for the farm system when you trade away your top prospect - defenceman Jack Johnson - and three top picks from 2006 to 2008. Now the farm system has a few prospects that have graduated, but they have not replenished the organization and it's starting to look thin. The Canes are counting on the 2006 - 2008 drafts and are hoping that some of those prospects develop into NHL players.

Now the Hurricanes have some good talent and depth up front with Brandon Sutter and Zach Boychuk leading the way. The second tier consists of offensively skilled guys like Zach Dalpe, Drayson Bowman, Chris Terry and (injury-prone) Bobby Hughes. It remains to be seen if Dalpe, Bowman and Terry's recent offensive production will be consistent and translate to the pro game in a couple years.

Things are not so rosy when it comes to depth at defence, where Brett Carson, Casey Borer and Jamie McBain are the only prospects of note. They could all legitimately play some role with the pro ranks and maybe see the NHL within a couple years. Of the three, only Borer looks like the one most likely to make the jump first to the NHL on a permanent basis. The Hurricanes need to replenish this area should be a priority over the next couple of drafts.

In goal, if Justin Peters or Mike Murphy develops into a NHL backup for Cam Ward, they would potentially set for the next five to seven years. So far, it's not looking like a good idea to draft a couple of more netminders. The recent play and development of mid-round picks have given the system a potential boost. If the Canes can let this group of prospects develop slow and not rushed them through the system it be a tremendous benefit down the road. It might be wise to retain all their draft choices and perhaps obtain additional prospect and draft picks for the near future.

1. Brandon Sutter – Centre, 20 (1st round pick 11th overall 2007)
Currently with Carolina (NHL)

A gritty two-way centre with the capability to produce offence, as well as shut down the opponent's top lines. A lanky build prevents him from being physically dominant at this stage. But when he fills out to the 215 range, then look out! He has a tremendous work ethic in practice and in games and is a respected leader, even at 20. His knowledge of the game and the details on what it takes to win cannot be underestimated, especially considering his father Brent is his coach. He has good puck skills and can distribute the puck or score with equal efficiency. He uses his size well to shield the puck and he can stick handle and create time and space for teammates. He's a good skater who will get better with more strength and power to his frame that could project into a power centre. He's very good in the faceoff circle and could see a lot of ice time in crucial situations. He's most likely a valuable second-line centre in the NHL and a potential Selke candidate one day.

2. Zach Boychuk – Centre, 19 (1st round 14th overall 2008)
Currently with Lethbridge (WHL)

Pound for pound, he is one of the toughest and grittiest prospects by a country mile and is exactly what every organization needs in the playoffs. It is hard not to like a player who works harder than his skill set and shows leadership and accountability on and off the ice. He makes good decisions of which passing option to use and Boychuk can get the puck through tight traffic. He has excellent hockey sense and knows when to take advantage of a situation and sometimes he flashes uncanny anticipation. His exceptional agility and quickness overshadows his above average foot speed, but could use another gear to be lethal and has good balance despite his size. He has a dangerous quick-release wrist and snap shot that's both quite accurate and has zip on his slap shot. He is all hustle and energy when it comes to his defensive game, and he is beginning to recognize his responsibilities much faster than in previous seasons. He has made good strides in his defensive game and he maintains much better positioning while keeping his feet moving and his head on a swivel. Boychuk plays a feisty high pressure forechecking style without the puck, despite his size. He does not get hit often, as he can be slippery. But when he is cycling along the boards he can get knocked over if he stops moving his feet. Overall, he is a clutch performer and plays the same way regardless of the score and oozes character and leadership at a young age.

3. Jamie McBain – Defence, 21 (2nd round 63rd overall 2006)
Currently with Wisconsin (NCAA)

The 6-2, 200-pound college junior has quietly had three excellent seasons and went virtually unnoticed being on the WJC team for the USA. He has displayed the ability to create offence from the blue line with 42 points in 71 games and has the hockey sense to play with elite level players. He shows the passing ability and vision to make nice passes to start the play. McBain's skating is good and he uses his quickness and agility to avoid fore checkers and angle forwards away from the slot. He does not play a physical style when defending and is more of a puck possession defender preferring to use body position, active stick and proper angles to defend. He must engage forwards more often and make sure he keeps his head on a swivel and his feet moving in the defensive zone and his poise and patience has come along. Like all young defencemen he needs to work on the nuances of his defensive game and another season in the NCAA and one in the AHL would help his development long term.

4. Drayson Bowman – Left Wing, 19 (3rd round 72nd overall 2007)
Currently with Spokane (WHL)

At 6-1 and 185 pounds, he has the frame but not the needed strength and power for the next level. His hockey sense, vision and ability to make plays at a high speed gives you reason to believe he can handle the pro game. He has shown very good puck skills and can move the puck quickly. He uses his teammates well coming off the wing and can stickhandle well enough to drive defenders back. The biggest strength is his skating and he has the foot speed to cause mismatches and create opportunities. He has a deadly wrist and slap shot, which he can unleash from anywhere and fool goaltenders due to his fast release. He is not a physical player, but will drive to the net and battle for loose pucks and go to the danger areas. His defensive game has improved over the last two seasons and he knows how many goal scoring chances start with good defence. He has become a clutch goal scorer and has taken his game to another level of consistency, especially in the playoffs. He needs another challenge next season after winning the Memorial Cup and making the WJC for Team USA.

5. Zach Dalpe – Right Wing, 19 (2nd round 45th overall 2008)
Currently with Ohio St. (NCAA)

This highly skilled forward has moved up the ranks of the draft board and with good reason as he has the tools to be a top-two line forward in the NHL. His hockey sense is very good and reads the developing play. He shows excellent puck skills, does not panic and can stickhandle through traffic. Dalpe can make nice passes through tight areas, even at full speed but he could use his options more in the passing game. The one thing you notice instantly is his skating ability, and he seems to separate quickly from checkers and shows the agility to make nice moves one-on-one. He will need to add some strength and power, which will help give him an extra boost. Without a doubt, his best asset is his ability to shoot the puck and he is a legitimate threat to score anytime he has the puck in the offensive zone. For an offensive player, his defensive game is quite good. He could become a solid two-way forward without restricting his offensive opportunities. He is still skinny and lacks the strength and power to handle in tight physical checking and can get knocked off the puck, but once he does his game should go to another level. He is a long term project compared to others on this list and may need three years at the Ohio State University. He's a solid, safe pick overall with intriguing upside that shows the ability to step up his game when it counts.

6. Casey Borer – Defence, 23 (2nd Round 53rd overall 2005)
Currently with Albany (AHL)

The 6-2, 205-pound blueliner is a steady player who plays a solid defensive game but does not have big offensive upside. After four good seasons at St. Cloud he made a quick transition to the AHL and earned an 11-game call up to the NHL last year. He has looked solid so far in his second year as a pro. He does not have the offensive instincts to contribute much in way of points, but he moves the puck well enough to keep it out of danger and uses his first two options well. He is a strong skater who shows he has the initial quickness and agility to handles plays down low, along with decent foot speed. He is not considered a physical defenceman, but he will mix it up and push bodies around when needed. He tends to use angles, body position and an active stick to thwart forwards in the defensive zone. He has good poise under pressure and could develop into a second pairing defenceman. He will need another year in the AHL to work on his craft but could see NHL action again next season.

7. Chris Terry – Left Wing, 20 (5th round 132nd overall 2007)
Currently with Plymouth (OHL)

A late round pick passed up by everyone, Terry had a tremendous season with 101 points in 68 games along with a +12 rating and 107 penalty minutes last season. In the past three seasons he has produced 195 points in 200 games and maintains that pace in the postseason with 33 points in 35 games. He is continuing on a similar offensive pace this season, but missed some time with injuries. He has the hockey sense and offensive instincts to play as a pro and thinks the game quickly. His puck skills can dazzle opponents as he tries to deke defenders with his stickhandling. He has the vision to make high end passing plays at speed. He's not the biggest forward at 5-10, but he has a stocky build at 187 pounds and he could be bigger and stronger. His shot is deceptively fast off his wrist or slap shot, so the more he ventures into the slot the more he will score. He is a good skater overall and shows quickness and agility but he could use another gear on his foot speed to be dynamic. He is not a physical player, but he will battle hard and compete for loose pucks on the forecheck. His defensive game is improving and he can be dangerous on the penalty kill with his quickness. It is quite possible that in three to four years, Terry is considered one of the steals of the 2007 NHL draft.

8. Justin Peters – Goalie, 22 (2nd Round 38th 2004)
Currently with Albany (AHL)

The 6-1, 213-pound netminder has the potential to be a NHL backup netminder but will need another two years of development. After four solid seasons in the OHL, Peters stumbled a bit in his rookie season as a pro in 2006-2007 playing a backup role. His 10-18 and 3.26 GAA was not the worrisome aspect, but his .886 save percentage was and he did not seem comfortable adjusting to the speed. He took a step in the right direction but played the majority of the season in the ECHL and only saw 10 games in the AHL. In his brief stint last season in Albany, he had a 7-3 record, 2.70 GAA and a respectable .904 save percentage. This season it looks as though Peters has rebounded and developed a greater consistency in his overall game. He has the confidence and aggressive nature to become a player but he will need to fine-tune his technique. He is a long term project and will need a couple more years of work in the minors.

9. Brett Carson – Defence, 23 (4th Round 109th overall 2004)
Currently with Albany (AHL)

The mammoth 6-4 and 220-pound defenceman plays a safe reliable defensive game and can chip in offensively on occasion. He seems to have enough hockey sense to read and handle the speed and tempo of the AHL and he should be able to translate that to the NHL. His skating is not a liability considering his size and he uses his wingspan to contain faster forwards. He does not go out of his way to throw big hits and prefers to maintain good position and not give the opposition opportunities. He quietly goes about his job and takes care of business and you sometimes do not notice him. After two seasons in the AHL he might need one more season to fine-tune his overall game before getting a shot at the NHL. He could one day become a solid number six defenceman.

10. Bobby Hughes – Centre, 21 (4th round 123rd overall 2006)
Currently with Albany (AHL)
He's an offensively gifted player with good hockey sense, puck skills and has the capability to contribute at the pro level. His 253 points in 243 games over four seasons in the OHL shows promise, but his AHL rookie season was cut short due to injuries. He only got in 26 games but he picked 16 points for his efforts and he could have ended up with 50 points if played a full year. He's not blessed with size at 5-10 and 180 pounds but to his credit he will not back down. He would be more effective if he was stronger with more power and added a little more weight to his frame. His passing ability and vision are very good and he makes quick plays and can handle the puck with speed in traffic. What could set him apart is his speed, as he is dangerous in tight areas with his quickness. He has a quick wrist and slap shot and likes to shoot the puck and he might be a better winger in the pro ranks with that tendency. He's not a physical player, but he will bump and crash and battle for the puck. His defensive game still needs to get better but to his credit it has improved. He will need a couple of seasons in the AHL to round out his game and get stronger before getting a full-time shot in the NHL. So far, injuries have really hampered his development so it will be a wait-and-see approach over the next couple of seasons.

11. Harrison Reed – Right Wing, 21 (3rd round 93rd overall 2006)
Currently with Albany (AHL)

Reed is having a challenging rookie season in the AHL so far and it will interesting to see if he can rise above and take the next step in his development. In his three years in junior, Reed had an up and down couple of seasons going from 50 points to 81 and then back down to 47 and needs to find his consistency. A skinny kid at 6-1 and 180 pounds, he needs to gain power and strength to get advantage of opportunities. He has average hockey sense and puck skills but does not have the quickness in his decision making that is needed and seems to hesitate at times. He's a good skater overall, with nice quickness and agility but his lack of power in his stride hurts is overall foot speed. He has shown he will play a in-your-face style when the team need it and he shows a good work ethic along with leadership abilities. He can score goals at times and has shown a knack for finding a seam and getting pucks on net at the junior level. He is improving his defensive game and needs to be more patient and stick to the basics of maintaining good body position, active stick and keeping the feet moving. Next season will be a test to see if he can bounce back and show some moxie, as he must dedicate himself to off-season training.

12. Justin McCrae – Right Wing, 20 (4th round 102nd overall 2007)
Currently with Spokane (WHL)

A four-year veteran of the WHL, he might develop into a role player at the AHL level due to his speed, intangibles and work ethic. He is not the biggest guy at six feet and 182 pounds and he will need to add some power and weight to his frame. To his credit, he is a willing combatant along the boards and in the tough areas looking for loose pucks. He has average hockey sense and puck skills, but he usually makes safe, low-risk plays when he has the puck he just does not show offensive creativity. He is a pretty good skater and is quick. He does not have a goal scorer's shot and he needs to get the puck away quicker with greater accuracy, but his shot does have some serious zip. He's an above-average defensive forward that uses his speed well to cut off angles and break to position. He shows good leadership and intangibles and his playoff experience at the Memorial Cup will help further his career. He is a long term project and will need a few years in the AHL to continue to develop his game.


Carolina Hurricanes - NHL Entry Draft Record (1997 - 2003)

When looking at the drafting and developing record of a NHL organization it becomes an interesting blend of statistics and circumstances with perhaps some luck thrown in for good measure. Most of the time the General Manager receives kudos for a teams fortunes at the draft table when in reality it is usually never the case in today's NHL. For the most part there are three aspects that make the whole process work; first is the amateur scouting department's ability to evaluate and project talent which may be the most challenging of all. Next the organizations player development department must attempt to mold the prospects by giving the players tools to enhance his talents. Perhaps most importantly is the prospects responsibility to pay the price and sacrifice which generally requires a tremendous work ethic. If one of these aspects fails then the likelihood of a prospect turning into an asset to his organization and having a NHL career becomes remote.

The reason for the analyzing the years from 1997 to 2003 is to first give each NHL organization five years to develop their prospects as players from different leagues evolve differently. Secondly the years from 1997-2003 are the players that should be the building blocks of the core of your team as they will be in the 23-29 year old age range. What makes each organization unique is what they do with the picks they have as management will often trade draft choices for immediate help on their NHL and AHL teams. Now some players may be real late bloomers and eventually make the criteria set in this analysis down the road but at this stage it is fascinating to see the results.

Criteria of NHL games played that deem a player has been drafted and developed successfully.


  Forwards - Defenceman Goaltenders
1997-2001 125-200 NHL Games required 51-100 NHL Games Played
2002-2003 100 NHL Games required 25-50 NHL Games Played
Pending Player - Represents a player who has a legitimate chance to make criteria

Carolina Hurricanes 1997-2003

Year Draft Picks NHL Players Produced (Round/Pick)
1997 9 (1) (RW) Shane Willis (4/88)
1998 10 (4) (LW) Eric Cole (3/71), (C) Josef Vasicek (4/91), (RW) Tommy Westlund (4/93), (RW) Jaroslav Svoboda (8/208)
1999 9 (1) (D) David Tanabe (1/16)
2000 8 (2) (D) Niclas Wallin (4/97), (RW) Ryan Bayda (3/80)
2001 8 (1) (C) Mike Zigomanis (2/46)
2002 4 (1) (G) Cam Ward (1/25)
2003 9 (1) (C) Eric Staal (1/2)

Total: 7 yrs – 57 draft picks – 11 NHL Players = 19.3% success rate

Success in the first three rounds (1997-2003)

1st rnd Draft Choices: 6 total picks
Undeveloped Prospects: Nikos Tselios, Jeff Heerema, Igor Knyazev
7 yrs – 6 draft picks – 3 NHL Players = 50% success rate

2nd rnd Draft Choices: 5 total picks
Undeveloped Prospects – Brad DeFauw, Brett Lysak, Tomas Kurka, Danny Richmond
7 yrs - 5 draft picks – 1 NHL Players = 20% success rate

3rd rnd Choices: 9 total picks
Kevin Holdridge, Brad Fast, Kevin Estrada, Jessie Lane, Francis Lessard
7 yrs – 7 draft picks – 2 NHL Players = 28.4% success rate

Total: 7 yrs –18 draft picks – 6 NHL Players = 33.3% success rate in first 3 rounds

First Three Rounds - Developed vs. Prospects/NA vs. Euro
Developed players: (6) North American, (3) European
Undeveloped Prospects: (10) North American, (2) European

Success in the last six round (1997-2003)

4th rnd to 9th rnd Choices: 39 total picks
7 yrs – 39 draft picks – 5 NHL Players = 12.8% success rate

Shane Malloy provides hockey prospect insight and analysis on his Prospect Insider feature on TSN.ca, Canada's leading sports website. Many sports networks, hockey magazines and major newspapers have drawn upon his expertise and knowledge. His passion for the game and involvement in grass roots hockey from the junior hockey to the National Hockey League is evident. He is currently a host and hockey event reporter on XM Sirius Satellite Radio (Home Ice 204) where he co-hosts a hockey radio show on Hockey Prospects and the Business of Hockey.

Prior to joining TSN, Malloy was the columnist-covering prospects for NHL.com for two years and a NHL and prospect columnist Fox Sports.com for six years.

This document is the intellectual property of Shane Malloy and cannot be used or duplicated in anyway without expressed written consent. Any use of this document without the expressed written consent of Shane Malloy will result in public exposure and legal prosecution.

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Zach Boychuk scores (Photo: The Canadian Press)


(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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