The time is finally here for the NHL draft this evening. Held in Nashville, all the big NHL executives, coaches, and some players will be on hand to watch the special day for the next generation of NHL stars.
The mock drafts have been talked about all year and the players have jumped up and down the draft rankings to make it to this momentous occasion.
The Carolina Hurricanes are coming off another Metro Division title and sit with the 30th overall pick in addition to another 8 picks when it is all said and done.
General Manager, Don Waddell, is in a strong position to replenish the Canes system or use the picks to acquire assets that can help the current squad.
The worst-kept secret in the NHL is that the first name selected this evening will be Connor Bedard to the Chicago Blackhawks. Obviously, this does not factor into the Canes’ plans but the way the rest of the picks fall will determine the decisions for Waddell and the staff.
Tonight the first round of the draft will be held and on Thursday rounds 2-7 will be completed before the chaos of free agency rears its ugly head.
As of now, the Canes will have one choice third to last of the evening. The flashy option and hope for fans is that the Canes do not pick at all and trade for an NHL player but that happening is a flip of the coin.
In the meantime, let’s look at some draft prospects that could be available this evening that could make sense for Carolina.
Depending on where all the chips fall early in the draft, here are some players that would be a strong choices if available at 30:
Perreault plays left wing on the top line for the US National Development Team and is 5’11, 178 pounds. Son of former NHL player, Yanic Perreault, he has the pedigree to improve to an NHL caliber player.
Like his father, Perreault has a great sense for the game and is able to anticipate the play better than most available in this draft. Because of this hockey sense, the winger has great playmaking ability, making the players around him better.
The knock right now on Perrault is his skating ability but he is committed to Boston College where he will have a chance to grow with fellow line mates and draft prospects Will Smith and Ryan Leonard.
The Canes are known to have active defensemen and this is the strong point of the system. However, Gulyayev would be a steal for Waddell at 30.
The Russian is 5’10, 172 pounds and played half the year with grown men in the KHL.
His offensive ability is off the charts and his ability has drawn comparisons to Cale Makar. He is a bit undersized on defense but that is the trend in the NHL now.
A threat on the power play, Gulyayev is very poised and is a potential first unit quarterback of the power play.
The defensive side of his game is still in development and needs work. Being drafted into the Carolina system would allow time for him to find his defensive game and excel offensively.
The 6’2, 180 pound defenseman has the pedigree as he is the son of former NHLer Radek Bonk. He played Junior B last season and that was because the London Knights were so strong that playing time would have been a concern.
Although he played down a level, he got the full experience of the London Knights as he was able to be available for practices and workouts.
Bonk’s skill and ability is still very raw but that means his potential is through the roof for an organization that can let him develop like the Canes.
The young defenseman is viewed as a very safe pick because of the balance of skill he has already shown. The worst case scenario, Bonk can adjust and play anywhere on the depth chart for an NHL team.
The Russian winger is a project that will be worth the wait. But is 6’5, 203 pounds as a teenager and still learning how to play with his body type.
The left winger is solid skating which allows him to get to the right areas to create scoring chances. He does not have one dominant skill but does everything well.
Despite his great size, he lacks the physicality expected but this could be due to the growth process and playing against men.
The potential for a player like But is incredible and the Canes would not need to push him but let him get comfortable physically and hone his skills.