Carolina Hurricanes Prospects Shining Early at WJC

The Carolina Hurricanes have several prospects at the WJC this year.

The Carolina Hurricanes’ prospects are putting on a show for their respective teams at this year’s IIHF World Junior Championship.

Four prospects. Three different teams. Four goals and one assist between the four prospects in one game played each. The Carolina Hurricanes’ scouting group’s ability to seemingly tell the future.

The result of the strange equation listed above? A bright future for the hockey team that drafted these four and the scouting group that had them on the board in the first place. Let’s dive in and take a look at what the Bunch of Jerks have to look forward to in these up-and-coming kids.

First and foremost, every single one of these prospects has genuine impact-player potential at the NHL level with the Carolina Hurricanes; Ryan Suzuki, 28th overall pick in 2019. Noel Gunler, 41st overall pick in 2020. Vasili Ponomaryov, 53rd overall pick in 2020. And last, but certainly not least, Zion Nybeck, 115th overall pick in 2020. All four of these prospects were ‘fallers’ in their draft years.

Suzuki was projected, for most of the 2018-19 season, to be a Top 20 pick. Gunler and Ponomaryov were both projected to be 1st Round picks right up until draft day, and most scouts had Zion Nybeck going in the mid-2nd round to the early 3rd round. Eric Tulsky and the Carolina Hurricanes’ scouting group continue to put together stunningly good drafts, and I am 100% here for it.

Tulsky and Co.’s prowess is fully evident when looking at this year’s WJC performances by each of these 4 future NHLers.

Let’s start with, in my opinion, the most impressive prospect so far, Vasili Ponomaryov.

Ponomaryov, in his single WJC game, played this year (a 5-3 walloping of Florida Panther’s goaltender prospect Spencer Knight and Team USA at the hands of Team Russia), has 2 goals and a +/- rating of +1 so far in just 8:05 of ice time.

Ponomaryov, in my opinion, is the most exciting of these four mentioned and has the highest ceiling of the group, but that’s another story for another time. If you plan on watching any of the WJC games, make sure Team Russia and Ponomaryov are on your radar; you will assuredly be dazzled by this kid’s release, speed, and overall hockey IQ.

Next, let’s look at Ryan Suzuki and Team Canada’s absolute merciless steamrolling of Team Germany last night. Suzuki, in his single game played, notched 1 of Canada’s SIXTEEN (16) GOALS against Team Germany. Team Canada had more goals (16, lol) than Germany had shots (15). Hell, Ryan Suzuki had more shots on goal (4), than Team Germany had goals. Even the Edmonton Oilers’ locker room doors couldn’t stop Team Canada.

To be fair, Germany is up against a not-so-favorable schedule, and more than a few of their key players are out due to COVID, but I fully believe the ‘Stop, he’s already dead!’ Simpson’s meme fully applies here.

Last, but far from least, the Swedes; Noel Gunler and Zion Nybeck. Both of these guys notched a point apiece in a 7-1 flouncing of Team Czech Republic. Gunler would score Team Sweden’s 7th and final goal, and Nybeck would have a secondary assist on Sweden’s 6th goal, scored by Oscar Bjerselius.

The future seems to get brighter and brighter for the Carolina Hurricanes with each passing day, and I have no doubt Tulsky and Co. will continue putting together the best draft classes in the league for years to come.

If these kids keep pushing and developing, I’m sure we’ll be hearing something similar to this, “Suzuki drives the puck into the offensive zone. He’s got Ponomaryov crashing the net, Ponomaryov receives the puck on his forehand, pulls it back to his backhand, and lifts it right over the shoulder of Ilya Samsonov!! The Canes bring the lead to 3!!!” sooner, rather than later.

Question for CC Readers: Which Canes prospects are you most excited about?