Welcome to our annual 31-in-31 Summer Series here at DobberProspects! Every day in July we will be bringing you a complete breakdown of a team’s draft, notes from their development camp, and insights into their off-season moves so far. Following this up, the August 31-in-31 Series will dive into every team’s prospect depth charts with fantasy insights and implications for the upcoming seasons. Check in often, because we plan on filling your hockey withdrawal needs all summer long!
Fresh off an improbable run to the Eastern Conference Finals, Carolina came into the draft looking to add to an already impressive prospect system with 10 picks across the two days in Vancouver. They did that and more, ending up with 12 picks, were among the most busy organizations on the trade front. It was a terrific draft overall, where the team took advantage of taking the best players available to them at their draft slots throughout all rounds of the draft.
1st round, 28th overall: Ryan Suzuki, C – Barrie (OHL)
Carolina was in enviable position sitting at 28, being able to select the best player available on their draft board. When forwards started to fall late in the first round, the Hurricanes were rewarded with a player who skill-wise probably was more of a top-15 talent. In Caronlia’s organizational depth chart the pivot slots in just behind Martin Necas in terms of ceiling, assuming Suzuki’s former junior teammate Andrei Svechnikov’s graduation from prospect status.
Suzuki is a pass-first center who’s vision is among the best in the draft. His ability to find his teammates both in the zone and on the rush is elite, and allows for plenty of high-danger chances.
He will continue to ply his trade in the OHL for the foreseeable future, and likely will be one of the leagues top scorers as soon as 2019-20. Carolina finally has the luxury of not rushing prospects due to an improving roster, and a prospect group with many players on the brink of an NHL roster spot. This bodes well for Suzuki’s long-term development, as the team can allow him whatever time needed to properly prepare himself for being a full-time NHL difference maker.
2nd round, 36th overall: Pyotr Kochetkov, G – SKA St. Petersburg (KHL)
With the draft selection that the Hurricanes acquired in the Jeff Skinner trade with Buffalo before the 2018-19, Carolina selected a candidate to become their franchise goaltender down the road. It was the first time since Alex Nedeljkovic was drafted in 2014 that the Canes had addressed the position with such a high pick.
Kochetkov was the consensus second goaltender behind Spencer Knight, and the number one rated European goaltender in this year’s draft. As a 19-year-old, Kochetkov is likely closer to the NHL then most of the prospects available which fits well with Carolina’s positional depth chart.
Nedeljkovic signed a two-year agreement this off-season that is a two-way contract for 2019-20 and a one-way contract for 2020-21. The organization will give him every opportunity to be the starter long-term, but Kochetkov should solidify quality depth at the position and competition for being the starter into the future.
2nd Round, 44th overall: Jamieson Rees, C – Sarnia (OHL)
After moving back in the draft from pick #37 and collecting another third round pick from Ottawa in the process, Carolina selected Rees who is a perfect fit for the Hurricanes system.
Rees is a pace pusher, relying on his speed and strength to effectively forecheck and lead his linemates on the rush. For fantasy purposes, the pivot likely settles as a multi-cat forward who can provide hits, faceoff wins and secondary scoring. His offensive arsenal still has room to develop, and he should have a productive post draft season in Sarnia where he will have added responsibility in 2019-20.
3rd round, 73rd overall: Patrik Puistola, LW – Tappara (Liiga)
Trading back was the name for the game for Carolina again, as they moved out of back end of the second round to add yet another third rounder to their bounty.
This time, it was another skill first forward in Puistola who although highly rated, slid down the draft board. Grabbing the talented winger at this point was a huge value for the Canes. As an offensive minded player with great hands and an above average shot, it’s easy to see how Puistola projects to the NHL and to your fantasy roster. We always talk about how after the first round of the draft, you are hoping to hit on an elite skill, since many players who have the “whole package” are off the board and that’s just what Carolina has done here. Puistola will be a power play contributor at the NHL level over the course of his career.
3rd round, 83rd overall: Anttoni Honka, D – JYP (Liiga)
Another value selection in the third, Honka could be a steal when we look back on this draft down the line. He’s great in transition and will be a power play quarterback for whatever team he is a part of.
As a pass first defenseman, Honka is at his best when he is on the breakout, gaining the zone and setting up his teammates for scoring chances. He’s truly a high risk/high reward prospect, and is worth a flier in dynasty leagues due to his offensive prowess.
3rd round, 90th overall: Domenick Fensore, D -USNTDP
Fensore was one of 17 members of the USNTDP drafted in the 2019 NHL draft. He’s an undersized, productive blueliner with offensive skill to burn. Being 5’8” and 160 pounds, the Boston University commit uses his elite skating ability to separate himself from would be defenders. He’s terrific on the breakout, and has the skill set to be a power play quarterback down the road. He’ll use his time in Boston as first and foremost a way to improve his strength, and as his first step in what will likely be a multi-year development path to professional hockey.
Round 4, Pick 99 – Cade Webber, D – Rivers Academy (US-HS)
Round 4, Pick 121 – Tuukka Tieksola, RW – Karpat (Liiga)
Round 5, Pick 152 – Kirill Slepets, RW -Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (KHL)
Round 6, Pick 181 – Kevin Wall, RW – Penn State (NCAA)
Round 6, Pick 183 – Blake Murray, C – Sudbury (OHL)
Round 7, Pick 216 – Massimo Rizzo, C – Coquitlam (BCJHL)
Of this group, Tieksola and Slepets are the most likely to be fantasy assets in the future. Tieksola is a project, but has shown flashes of a prospect with offensive upside. Slepets is a Russian double overage winger who had a point-per-game season in the Russian second division a year ago and five goals in seven games in the 2019 WJC. Murray is a dark horse to watch for as his role increases in Sudbury.
Carolina held their prospect camp last week in Raleigh featuring a multitude of players drafted over the past few seasons. You can check out the drafted prospects in the Canes system and their prospect camp roster invites here.
To say that Carolina has had an interesting offseason, would be an understatement.
– The offer sheet the Montreal gave to Sebastian Aho was easily matched, so Carolina has their best player locked up for five years on a below market value contract. The thank you card to Marc Bergevin is in the mail.
– Carolina took advantage of Vegas’s cap situation, adding Erik Haula for prospect Nicolas Roy. Haula will jump right into the Hurricanes middle six, and likely will see power play time as well. Roy, long one of my favorite prospects in the system will probably have a better chance of latching on with Vegas this season in their bottom six as a depth option.
– At the draft, the Canes essentially bought Toronto’s 2020 first round pick by taking on Patrick Marleau’s contract and then buying him out. Good business as that becomes an asset to include in a trade throughout the 2019-20 season if they wish.
– Goaltender Scott Darling was moved to Florida for James Reimer, in a cap juggling deal that worked out well for both teams needs. Reimer will be the back up to newly the newly re-signed Pete Mrazek.
– Lastly, Carolina moved out the popular and steady Calvin de Haan in a deal to free up some money. Going the other way were RFA’s Gustav Forsling and Anton Forsberg. The biggest beneficiaries of the deal may be prospect related, as Aleksi Saarela went to Chicago with de Haan, and the deal frees up a spot on Carolina’s back end for a full time role for either Haydn Fleury or Jake Bean.
Feel free to give Kevin a follow at @kleblanchockey for prospect talk and happenings.