Thanks for joining us for our August 31-in-31 series! Every day this month we will be taking a look at each team and diving into their prospect depth charts, risers and fallers, graduating prospects, and top ten prospects in the system.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.
New owner Tom Dundon has brought change in Raleigh since taking over the reins of the team with the longest playoff drought in the NHL. In the front office, in the locker room and throughout the organization, there has been a culture shift since January that has started at the top.
Bill Peters and Ron Francis are out. Rod Brind’Amour and Don Waddell are in. Brind’Amour, who was an assistant coach for multiple seasons under Peters knows the personnel, but now gets his put his own mark on the club.
Helping matters this summer was Carolina’s enviable position of being able to grow their prospect system due to draft lottery luck. After building a solid core group of prospects over the last few seasons, the Hurricanes were aided by the fate of the ping pong balls, which allowed them to draft the best forward in the draft in Andrei Svechnikov in June.
In addition to adding Svechnikov at the draft, Carolina shook things up by moving on from mainstays Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm for Dougie Hamilton, Micheal Ferland and Adam Fox. From a prospect perspective, Fox was a huge add to a Carolina blueline pipeline that has seen many graduates over the last few seasons. He still can take the NCAA free agency route, but reports out of Raleigh are optimistic about being able to ink him before it gets to that point.
Calvin de Haan was brought in via free agency, adding to an already solid blueline core. Jordan Martinook was a small add to the forward group, but with a handful of prospects getting ready to break in at the NHL level, the Canes deferred to their youth over adding vets in FA. In goal, it was Cam Ward out, Petr Mrazek in.
Pace slowed after July 1, and then this week the fireworks were back with the big move of Jeff Skinner. Coming back the other way were Cliff Pu, a 2019 second, 2020 third and 2020 sixth. Many opinions are out regarding the deal, but for multiple reasons the return was never going to be as good as some expected. If anything, it gives Carolina flexibility in the future.
Fleury had a good season as a rookie, and will be a sixth or seventh defenseman depending on what happens on the impending Justin Faulk trade front.
Who could we see in 2018-19?
Wow, what a dynamic group. After the Skinner trade, it’s easy to see that Carolina will be counting on rookies Svechnikov and Necas to provide offense in big roles this fall. Zykov likely will slot in as a middle-six winger bringing his crash and bang style to a lineup that has been lacking punch. Wallmark was a success in his handful of games last season at the NHL level, and his ability to play up and down the lineup will be intriguing to the staff. Foegele and Roy are likely a little farther away, but could make an appearance throughout the year.
- Warren Foegele – The former third-rounders meteoric rise continued in 2017-18 as he finished second among AHL rookies with 28 goals and earned his first NHL ice time.
- Valentin Zykov – Zykov has nothing left to prove at the AHL level, as his 33 goals in 63 games led the league. The winger signed a two-year contract this offseason.
- Lucas Wallmark – Often overlooked, Wallmark has been terrific over his last two seasons in the AHL. The Canes lineup actually sets up best if he can win the fourth line center spot. Having to clear waivers will likely make this a reality.
- Alex Nedeljkovic – Nedeljkovic has always been a blue-chipper, but he had some growing pains in the 2016-17 season. He was much more steady between the pipes in 2017-18 and will continue to push towards the starters crease in the coming years.
- Matt Filipe – Drafted in the third round in 2016, Filipe didn’t have a great sophomore season at Northeastern. Expect a more productive year in 2018-19.
- Jake Bean – For the first season since 2014-15, Bean’s point-per-game rate declined. However, there is still a lot of promise for the mobile rearguard as he adjusts to the AHL this season.
- Aleksi Saarela – Hard to call a guy who scored 25 times at the AHL level a faller, but adding Svechnikov caps Saarela’s upside a bit. He’s still going to be an NHLer.
TOP TEN PROSPECTS (FANTASY UPSIDE)
- Andrei Svechnikov, RW
- Martin Necas, C
- Adam Fox, D
- Nicolas Roy, C
- Warren Foegele, LW
- Valentin Zykov, LW
- Jake Bean, D
- Julien Gauthier, RW
- Alex Nedeljkovic, G
- Alexei Saarela, RW
Thanks for reading! Give me a follow @kleblanchockey for prospect talk and happenings.