The season is moving along nicely for the Carolina Hurricanes. The same cannot be said for youngster, Jack Drury. The top prospect is entering “no man” land at a crossroads.
The Canes are coming off two satisfying overtime victories against the New York Islanders on the road and back at PNC Arena against the Buffalo Sabres. Both big points were taken against Eastern Conference foes.
The 23-year-old center certainly has shown signs of NHL-caliber skills in his 53 games played at this level. Still, the former Harvard Crimson is not seeing much expansion in his role and as a result, his ice time has been averaging much less than a period played.
The struggle for a younger player to crack a veteran lineup is difficult but more so when that team is considered a Stanley Cup contender. This is where the forward is finding himself as a player that does not have a home. He is a player who has the AHL experience and success but not enough time and experience to prove successful in the NHL.
It would be hard to justify the New York native playing back in the AHL and even if he did, where would he end up? The Canes still do not have an AHL affiliate and continue to spread around their property amongst the league.
The NHL squad is deep and says something just for the American to be consistently in the lineup for Rod Brind’Amour, but this is not the ideal situation for Drury.
Drury was drafted 42nd overall by the Canes in 2018 for a reason. Jumping up the Carolina system, Drury quickly became a player with a bright future.
Averaging just 10:51 minutes of ice time in his career, the 5’11 center has just 11 points. With little special team consideration, the Canes prospect has learned the even strength play. In every zone, Drury has shown the responsibility and skill necessary to stay in the NHL.
Responsibility with the puck has been a strong point and focus for the former second-round pick. Having just 2 giveaways this season has proven he can be trusted in all situations.
If Drury was younger and more inexperienced, it would be easy to get him playing time in the minors. Unfortunately, that time has passed and he should be given bigger minutes.
Young players take time to transfer all of their skills over to the high level of the NHL but Drury does not seem to have an opportunity to grow with this team as it stands.
With the salary cap being an issue, Drury is a cheap option to fill the fourth line. The struggles of Jordan Staal should be an opportunity for Drury if the trend continues.