A strong group of prospects and invitees are making their way to Florida to participate in the 2023 Southeast Rookie Showcase this weekend. The group, mainly comprised of Hurricanes draft picks from the last several years, will play three games over four days, with Nashville and Tampa Bay joining the event hosted by the Florida Panthers.
This is the fourth year the Hurricanes have participated in the event, having hosted the proceedings last year in Raleigh. The Hurricanes won two of the three games during the 2022 event, beating Nashville and Tampa Bay and losing to Florida.
The team dropped the roster last week, featuring many familiar faces from last year’s Chicago Wolves team. Two minor changes were made in the lead-up to the event, with Jamieson Rees not participating as he recovers from offseason surgery and invitee Colton Smith being replaced by Tag Bertuzzi due to an injury. It is also worth noting that top prospects like Scott Morrow and 2023 1st round pick Bradly Nadeau won’t be involved as they prepare for the NCAA season.
Up front, there are several noteworthy prospects that have been in the organization for several years. Ryan Suzuki is the only 1st round pick on the team. Noel Gunler and Vasily Ponomarev are two snipers selected in the 2020 2nd round. Suzuki and Ponomarev spent some time with the team during the postseason, though neither has made their NHL debut yet. Felix Unger Sorum is the only player from the 2023 class on the team, taken in the 2nd round. He has the potential to become one of the best passers in the organization, recording eight assists at the 2023 IIHF World U-18 Championship in April.
On defense, there are some players that could step into a prominent role in the near future. The right side of the defense is in solid shape, with Anttoni Honka, Aleksi Heimosalmi, and Bryce Montgomery on the roster. Honka is coming off a strong season with the Wolves, and Heimosalmi has been a staple on the blue line for Finland in recent years, but I’m particularly excited to see Montgomery in action. At 6’4″ and 215 lbs., Montgomery is one of the biggest players on the team, but he moves well and isn’t afraid to step up and take someone off their skates.
In the net for the Southeast Rookie Showcase, the Canes will go with the duo of Jakub Vondras and Yaniv Perets. Vondras was selected in the 6th round in 2022 out of Czechia. He’s recently made the jump to North America, signing with the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL. Perets signed with the Hurricanes after leading Quinnipiac to a national championship and earning 2nd team All-American honors in his sophomore campaign.
The Hurricanes will play their first game of the 2023 Southeast Rookie Showcase on Friday night at 7 p.m. against the Panthers. They’ll face the Lightning at 3 p.m. on Sunday before concluding the event on Monday at 10 a.m. against the Predators. The team plans to post a link on their website to watch live shortly before the puck drop for each contest.