Now that the 2014 NHL Draft has come and gone and the Hurricanes Prospect Development Camp is underway, I figured I’d take a stab at predicting some possibilities for the Canes in next year’s draft. These are solely predictions on my part and are subject to change. There is a lot of room for volatility given the number of overall prospects and the number of teams that could take them.
The Hurricanes haven’t had the greatest Draft luck over the past few years, but we do have some promising prospects. Jeff Skinner (7th overall – 2010) has been a prosperous scorer, Justin Faulk (37th overall – 2010) now anchors our blueline, and Elias Lindholm (5th overall – 2013) could grow into a key contributor next season. Drafting Haydn Fleury in July is a step in the right direction, one that could further solidify the defensive corps. Next year, GM Ron Francis should direct his focus towards scoring, just like former GM Jim Rutherford did in 2010 with Jeff Skinner. We are in need of another winger who could add that extra spark we seem to be lacking. A player with both size and scoring ability would be optimal. It would be helpful if he could come in right away as Skinner did, but that can’t be expected. The player taken in the first round is the easiest to predict, as there is a predetermined ranking system in place for junior players.
The latter rounds, however, are heavily dependent on overall team depth and the “right fit.” Predicting these rounds is difficult.
My mock draft will assume that the Hurricanes remain in the seventh slot in the upcoming draft. I personally expect the Canes will fall somewhere between picks 5-12 once again due to changes made by the team and upgrades made to the other NHL teams. This also assumes no outside pick/prospect trading. This is what I think we should do, not necessarily what I think the Canes will do (it’s too early for that in my opinion).
But, without further ado, this is my mock Carolina Hurricanes 2015 Draft:
- Round 1 – Pick 7: Pavel Zacha (LW) – Liberec White Tigers (Czech)
- As I have seen on a few mock draft boards, Zacha seems to be a good choice here. Drafted #1 overall in the CHL Import Draft to the Sarnia Sting, his size (6’3”) and the fact that would fall into a position of need for the Canes leads me to believe we could take a chance on him. Consensus top 2 picks Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel (who I would be willing to trade up to draft) will be long gone and I would hope Zacha remains available. If he is not, centers Mikko Rantanen and Dylan Strome should be there at 7. Strome has good family history and skill to go along with it. He just has to maintain high levels of effort for an entire 60 minutes.
- Round 2 – Pick 37: Filip Ahl (LW) – HV71 (SEL)
- I went back and forth here for a while between two Swedes, Ahl and Fredrik Forsberg. They are both wingers with some experience at the center position, but the key for me here was size. Ahl towers over Forsberg by a noticeable 5 inches. Ahl (6’4”) is young (17) and raw, but he has played against skilled opposition. Forsberg (5’11”) is also young (17) and raw, but he seems to have more of a scoring touch. In the end, however, I would believe both would be available. Ahl’s size and toughness should be the deciding factor for Bill Peters’ offense.
- Round 3 – Pick 67: Nick Boka (D) – USNTDP
- Back we go to North America and to defense. This decently-sized righty would add to our defensive depth and hopefully shore up a lefty-heavy blueline. I wouldn’t expect much right away, but I like his chances for the future.
- Round 4 – Pick 97: Dennis Yan (LW) – USNTDP
- This winger with dual American and Russian citizenship shows promise laced with instances of noticeable rawness. I am liking how hockey in America is rising and Yan is another product of this. His scoring touch is still in development, but the effort is there. Size is average. I’d give him a shot.
- Round 5 – Pick 127: Veini Vehviläinen (G) – JYP Jr. (Finland)
- If he is still around, I would love to add this Finnish goalie to the system. I still think we could use more depth here even though we just drafted Alex Nedjelkovic. Daniel Altshuller may be slotted to join the Checkers, but I haven’t seen anything super special out of him during the last two development camps. For depth reasons, I would take a chance here in the fifth round.
- Round 6 – Pick 157: Artyom Vladimirov (D) – Novosibirsk (KHL)
- I know, I know, taking Russians in the Draft is a little scary these days. But Vladimirov’s size just drew me in. He isn’t a scoring machine, but Bill Peters and Ron Francis are preaching size. It would also be convenient that our toughest defenders Jay Harrison and newly reacquired Tim Gleason will be off the books by the time Vladimirov’s time comes around.
- Round 7 – Pick 187: Filip Rydström (C) – Vallentuna BK (Sweden)
- It is getting harder and harder to pick the deeper I go into the draft. Rydström was selected in the 2014 CHL Import Draft in the second round to Charlottetown. I like his size (6’2”) and felt that the Canes should add one true center in the Draft.
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As cloudy as the future is, it was fun putting this together. I doubt this will play out, but from what I have seen from databases and scouting reports, these players fit what the Canes need. I do foresee myself updating this as the 2015 NHL Draft in Sunrise, Florida creeps closer, however. I would hope it’s more accurate by then!