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Wild vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Early Possibilities for the Draft

Thursday, 05.20.2010 / 3:20 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Early Possibilities for the Draft
With the Hurricanes heading into the draft with their highest first-round pick since 2005, looking ahead presents a clearer picture than it has in quite some time.

Paul Branecky
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That being said, an awful lot of things can and will change between now and the days leading up to the opening round on June 25, but a few possible scenarios have emerged as to what the Hurricanes might do with the seventh overall pick. 

One of those would be taking aim at a trio of talented defensemen, namely Cam Fowler (video), Brandon Gormley (video) and Erik Gudbranson (video). However, even with such a high pick, a little work may need to be done.

“If our scouting staff feels very strongly about one of those two or three defensemen who are at the top end of the draft, we may have to try to move up a little bit,” said General Manager Jim Rutherford. “I don’t think that two of them will get to seven, and maybe all three of them won’t.”

Going out of their way to grab one of those players that high would seem to go against some aspects of prior policy. In recent years, the Hurricanes have stated a reluctance to draft defensemen in the first round altogether due to their generally slower rate of development into NHL players and their occasional tendency to play their best years with other teams. Additionally, some of the Hurricanes’ least successful first-round picks since moving to North Carolina, Nikos Tselios and Igor Knyazev, for example, have been blue liners.

However, many of those things change when picking in the top 10. By definition, those players tend to be safer picks with quicker, perhaps even immediate, paths to the NHL. In the past two years alone, Zach Bogosian, Drew Doughty, Victor Hedman and Luke Schenn have all had success in going straight from junior hockey to the big league.

If the Hurricanes do end up being more drawn to a defenseman than a forward, it could partially be attributed to the relative lack of existing organizational depth at that position. There’s already a logjam of offensive players that will be competing for spots with the big club in the next few years, if not already, with fewer defensemen expected to be in the mix. Jamie McBain’s graduation from prospect full-time NHL’er further weakens that pool.

Provided Rutherford can find a willing partner, the Hurricanes have the pieces that they would need in order to trade up. Even after giving up a fifth-round choice for Jared Staal last week, the Hurricanes could have as many as 11 choices in the seven-round draft, including three in the second round. Rutherford also did not rule out moving roster players to accomplish that goal, as he foresees more player movement than usual around the league this summer.

“The good thing is that we have the assets and the ammunition to make some moves – moreso than we’ve ever had,” said Rutherford. “We sit in a good position. If we want to make a move we can, if we don’t, we won’t.”

The latter presents another viable option: simply hanging on to the picks in hand. In what is considered to be a deep draft, good players can be found throughout, even if the Canes miss out on one of the top-tier defensemen with their first choice.

“There are some forwards there that we like a lot and the reports on these guys are really good,” Rutherford said of group that includes Brett Connolly, Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter, among others.  “Our scouting staff has seen them a lot, and there are a few forwards there that I would be pretty happy with.  If we stay at seven, I feel very comfortable that we’re getting a very, very good player.”

That also goes for the glut of picks in the second round, which lend themselves to be trade bait at first glance but could prove very useful if kept. In each of the last four years, the Hurricanes have made what appear to very good picks in the “next” rounds, including McBain (63rd overall, 2006), Drayson Bowman (72nd, 2007), Zac Dalpe (45th, 2008) and Brian Dumoulin (51st, 2009).

As with other aspects of this off-seasons team building, flexibility brought on by last season’s trades will be key. No matter what course the Hurricanes end up taking, it seems that there could be a lot more to watch for at this year’s draft than the names coming off the board.


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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 63 41 17 5 171 139 87
2 NYI 65 41 21 3 207 182 85
3 NYR 62 39 17 6 196 153 84
4 TBL 65 39 20 6 213 171 84
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 65 35 20 10 193 162 80
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 64 28 23 13 156 181 69
10 PHI 64 27 25 12 170 186 66
11 OTT 61 27 23 11 173 166 65
12 NJD 64 27 27 10 144 165 64
13 TOR 64 26 33 5 173 195 57
14 CBJ 63 26 33 4 163 201 56
15 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
16 BUF 64 19 40 5 123 215 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 62 12 28 -18 40
E. Staal 57 18 20 -12 38
E. Lindholm 61 11 16 -18 27
J. Skinner 57 16 10 -17 26
N. Gerbe 58 7 16 -10 23
R. Nash 59 7 15 -10 22
V. Rask 60 8 12 -16 20
J. McClement 62 6 13 3 19
J. Staal 26 4 12 -4 16
A. Nestrasil 34 4 11 4 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 17 20 4 .911 2.43
A. Khudobin 7 11 3 .905 2.61