PHILADELPHIA -- Adding size was something the Carolina Hurricanes wanted to address heading into the second day of the 2014 NHL Draft, and they were able to accomplish just that.
Of the five skaters and a goaltender chosen in rounds two through seven, four were at least six feet tall with each of those players pushing at least 180 pounds.
“We thought it went pretty well. We’re pleased with all the players we got,” said Tony MacDonald, the Canes head of amateur scouting. “We added some size, which was something that we wanted to address.”
That said, the Canes weren’t willing to skimp on skill or skating or upside just for the sake of getting bigger; the size had to be a component of a well-rounded package.
“We went into it hoping we could get a bit bigger. It was nice when some of the guys came up and I was looking up at them,” said Canes Executive Vice President and General Manager Ron Francis. “But we weren’t trying to get bigger by sacrificing talent or ability. We think the guys we got are good players, and we think they can skate, which is important in today’s game. And, by all accounts, they’re very character individuals, which is always important to us when we draft players.”
After no goaltenders were taken off the board in Friday’s first round, four were chosen in the first nine picks on Saturday. Alex Nedeljkovic was one of them, taken 37th overall. The pick landed the Canes the Ontario Hockey League’s goaltender of the year in 2013-14 and helps to shore up the organizational depth in the crease.
“Alex is an athletic goaltender. He’s very quick. He’s very smart, and he understands the game very well,” MacDonald said. “We’re pretty pleased that we’ve added another quality goaltender to our [group].”
In the fourth round, the Canes scooped up a teammate of Nedeljkovic’s: Plymouth defenseman and Raleigh product Josh Wesley. He marks North Carolina’s first homegrown talent to be drafted into the NHL, and he joins the organization that retired his father’s No. 2 in 2009.
“I’m so blessed to have this jersey on right now,” Wesley said with an inerasable smile on his face. “Growing up, this was my favorite team to watch. I had Hurricanes stuff.”
“I interviewed Josh myself in Toronto and found him to be an outstanding young man,” MacDonald said. “He’s a fine man with some good physical tools. He’s growing and developing as a player.”
“He’s just a great kid,” Francis said. “It was neat for us to see a kid come to the table just so excited to be a part of the Carolina Hurricanes.”
Additionally, the Canes added forwards Warren Foegele, Lucas Wallmark and Clark Bishop and defenseman Kyle Jenkins.
Bishop, ranked 48th at midterms and 104th at finals by the NHL’s Central Scouting, was a player the Canes were able to snag later than expected – 127th overall in the fifth round.
“He was a bit of an under-the-radar guy,” MacDonald said. “We had him a lot higher on our list than where we took him.”
“The key point with the Draft is that you have to trust your scouts,” Francis said. “These are the guys that have been on the road and have watched some of these kids for two-plus years. They know them better than anybody.”
Looking to add some size, the Canes did just that with their six picks on the second day of the Draft. And, perhaps most importantly, they didn’t compromise in other areas, as well.
“We didn’t give up anything in terms of skill or potential, and that’s the important part,” MacDonald said. “The players we got that do have size also bring a lot to the table in terms of their ability to play the game.”
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