The Carolina Hurricanes are Discover Central Division Champions and looking to make a deep run in the playoffs, but there is never not a reason to look ahead to the future at what prospects can make the jump next. It’s a testament to the front office that the Canes can have this many good prospects and still be a Cup-contending team in the NHL.
Now, there are only going to be 5 I mention on this list as there are only so many spaces becoming open next year; there are some honorable mentions that are really close, but I just can’t see ready for the NHL yet – we’ll get into those first.
First up is Jesper Sellgren, a 22-year old Swedish-born defenseman who was drafted 166th overall in 2018. Sellgren sizes up at around 5’10 and is a left-handed defender who plays a solid 2-way game and has the mental tools to read the game well.
Sellgren has been playing in the top league in Sweden for the past 3 years under contract for Lulea HF. He put up 15 points in 52 games in his first year, including 6 points in 10 playoff games. Now, interestingly enough, Sellgren actually came over to Charlotte after his season finished to help the Checkers in the playoffs (in which they won the Calder Cup). He had 4 points in 11 games, 3 of them being goals.
In the year after, back with Lulea HF, he put up 21 points in 47 games as Lulea didn’t make the SHL playoffs. This past year he was loaned to Frolunda and he has found his full game. His point total didn’t show it as he registered 19 points in 52 games and sadly 0 points in 7 playoff games. He did, however, play the whole season on the top pairing. I do think that Sellgren could make the full-time move to NA after this year, but he needs time in the AHL before moving up to the big times.
The next honorable mention is another defenseman in Anttoni Honka. Anttoni is a 20-year old right-handed defenseman that the Carolina Hurricanes drafted 83rd overall in the 3rd round of the 2019 NHL Draft. You might recognize Honka as his brother, Julius Honka, is already an NHL defenseman with 87 games with the Dallas Stars under his belt.
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Anttoni has been described as a offensive, puck moving defenseman, and his numbers have shown that. In 2018-2019, Honka put up 8 points in 25 games between JYP and Jukurit of the Liiga and 7 points in 11 games with KeuPa HT of the Metsis league, including 11 points in 17 playoff games.
In 2019-2020, Honka had a better year as he got to play a full season in the Liiga. Anttoni had 19 points in 43 games with JYP. He also got a chance to showcase his ability at the 2019 World Juniors, but he only put up 2 points in 7 games playing for Finland.
2020-2021 was Honka’s best year as a pro as he put up 31 points in 58 games with JYP playing mainly top 4 minutes, but sometimes on the top pair when needed to. He’s also honed up some of his defensive skills and become more of a complete defenseman. Now Honka, to me, has more of the same need to play a year or so on North American ice, but if needed Honka could be used in a sheltered role.
The first forward in the honorable mentions is a guy that Carolina Hurricanes fans might not know too well: Dominik Bokk. Bokk is a 21-year old, right-shot winger that was acquired in the trade that sent Justin Faulk to the St. Louis Blues. A first round pick in 2018 (25th overall), Bokk was highly touted as a forward with a great shot and good playmaking abilities and he has shown those qualities so far.
In his draft year, Bokk put up 23 points in 47 games with the Vaxjo Lakers in the SHL, with 3 points in 6 games. He then made himself known in the U20 World Juniors with 8 points in 5 games, only one of those being goals. Overall representing Germany in that year, he had 14 points in 12 games. Unfortunately after this, Bokk went through a rough spell in his development.
Bokk was loaned to Rogle BK in the SHL for the 2019-2020 season, and had 17 points in 45 games (11 of those being goals), playing on the bottom line most of the year. He then had the chance to play in the World Juniors again, this time putting up 8 points in 7 games, 6 of them being goals. In 2020-2021 before coming to the Chicago, he played for Djurgardens IF of the SHL, putting up 3 points in 20 games.
Now, Bokk finally has his chance to show himself on North American ice and he has performed. This year for the Chicago Wolves, Bokk has put up 18 points in 27 games, 9 of those being goals including this stunner a few nights ago against Iowa.
His shot has been lethal, though one of his main drawbacks when he played in the SHL was that he was too greedy and selfish with the puck. From what I have watched of him in Chicago, he has certainly been taking massive strides towards being a lot less of a selfish player. His upside at the NHL level is roughly between a top 9 goal-scoring winger and a bottom six goal scorer. With some bottom 6 players leaving next year potentially, I can definitely see Bokk playing minutes at the NHL level next year, but hopefully won’t have too.
The last honorable mention that I have Jamieson Rees. Now, Rees is the borderline guy that could’ve been included if another prospect on this list hadn’t made such a strong impression in the AHL; we’ll get into that later. Rees is a 20 year-old, 5’11 left handed center that is currently playing for the Chicago Wolves. In the year prior to this for the Sarnia Sting in the OHL (while being an assistant captain, might I add) he put up a solid 61 points in 39 games.
Now, Rees hasn’t had the craziest start to life in the AHL, but to be fair to him, he’s trying to acclimate to playing center against guys with more experience and size than him so it’s undoubtedly a little bit tougher. He’s silently put up 12 points in 26 games this season, with 7 of those points being goals. Like I said, he was just narrowly beaten out by another prospect on this list and that prospect is Dominik Bokk.
Most recently in a win against the Rockford Ice Hogs, Rees had 2 goals and played well overall. He plays on both the powerplay and the penalty kill and helpful to most people watching Chicago Wolves games, plays on a line with Ryan Suzuki and Dominik Bokk. Rees’ upside is around a middle to top six center and overall could play minutes for the Carolina Hurricanes next year if needed.
Now, for the list you’ve all been waiting for: five prospects that could become full-time NHL’ers in a very short amount of time.