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Tracking the Storm

Draft Preview: Looking to Land Impact Player

Friday, 06.14.2013 / 9:00 AM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Draft Preview: Looking to Land Impact Player

In National Hockey League draft annals, the 2003 Entry Draft is regarded as one of the deepest and most talented classes, especially considering the to-date accomplishments from the 30 first-round picks alone: 21 have played in at least 400 games with 15 having crossed the 500-game marker, 14 have been named All-Stars and nine have captured the Stanley Cup, not to mention the swath of captains and award winners.

Michael Smith
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A decade later, the same things are being said about the emerging class of the 2013 NHL Draft.

With the fifth overall pick in the draft, which will be held at Prudential Center in New Jersey beginning at 3 p.m. on June 30, the Carolina Hurricanes are in an ideal position to land an impact player.

“It’s a deep draft. Everyone likes to reference the 2003 draft as a comparative, and it is right,” said Tony MacDonald, the Canes’ chief of amateur scouting. “It’s going to run deep for two rounds, maybe three.”

The best player available on the board at five is likely to be a forward, perhaps Finnish forward Aleksander Barkov, Swedish forward Elias Lindholm or Russian forward Valeri Nichushkin.

“I think the player we take at five, you will expect that he’s going to be able to come in, play on your team and make a contribution next year,” MacDonald said.

The last player the Hurricanes’ selected in the top 10 was Jeff Skinner with the seventh pick in 2010. The then-18-year-old went on to score 31 goals and tally 63 points en route to claiming the Calder Trophy and becoming an immediate impact player.

“If that happened again, we’d be quite happy,” MacDonald said, smiling. “But it’s not always about production. It’s a player who can come in and play and fit in your lineup.”

The top four picks in 2003 – Marc-Andre Fleury, Eric Staal, Nathan Horton and Nikolai Zherdev – each saw regular playing time with their new teams the following season, and many of the six remaining top-10 picks joined their clubs in regular roles after the work stoppage.

This year, MacDonald said NHL-ready talent could extend as far as the seventh pick. Because of this, Hurricanes President and General Manager Jim Rutherford said he’s keeping an open mind.

“There are some areas of our team that we’d like to fix sooner than later. If we had the chance to get something that helps our team immediately and not move [down] too many picks, we would at least have to have a pretty in-depth conversation about that within hockey operations,” he said. “I wouldn’t trade the pick outright and wouldn’t drop too many spots, but I’m not going to say I wouldn’t do it at all. I think the odds are against it. Probably not going to trade it. But I think it’s important to look at all options.”

Rutherford said he has little interest in trading up in the draft, considering the caliber of players available in the first five picks. MacDonald agreed.

“We’re going to be happy with our guy at five,” he said. “Somebody might fall through there that is unexpected.”

In the likelihood that the Canes stand pat at fifth overall, it will mark the first top-five pick for the team since 2005, when Carolina selected defenseman Jack Johnson third overall, their third straight top-five selection. In 2003, the Canes picked Staal second overall, and in 2004, the team traded up to nab forward Andrew Ladd with the fourth overall pick.

Following the team’s first-round pick, the Hurricanes will have the fifth selection in rounds two, three, five and six of the 2013 Draft, which will be held in its entirety in one day.

“As always, people are hoping to snag that diamond in the rough in the late rounds, but that doesn’t change regardless what kind of draft year you’re looking at,” MacDonald said.

What does change a bit with conducting all seven rounds in one day is strategy. In years past, MacDonald and his staff have had time to regroup and reassess after the first round; that will have to be done on the fly this year.

Each weekday leading up to the draft, CarolinaHurricanes.com will profile 10 prospects in alphabetical order who we believe could be available in the fifth slot, someone who many peg as a potential impact player.

“It’s a deep draft,” MacDonald said, “and you’re going to get a good player.”

PICK NOTES
ROUND 1
5, 1-5
ROUND 2
35, 2-5
ROUND 3
66, 3-5
ROUND 4
None: Traded Anthony Stewart, 2013 fourth-round pick and 2014 sixth-round pick to Los Angeles Kings for Kevin Westgarth on Jan. 13, 2013
ROUND 5
126, 5-5
ROUND 6
156, 6-5
ROUND 7
None: Traded Adam Hall and 2013 seventh-round pick to Tampa Bay Lightning for Marc-Andre Bergeron on April 2, 2013



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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - MTL 76 47 21 8 200 169 102
2 x - NYR 74 47 20 7 226 172 101
3 TBL 76 46 23 7 244 198 99
4 PIT 75 41 23 11 207 188 93
5 NYI 76 44 27 5 230 211 93
6 DET 74 40 22 12 216 201 92
7 WSH 75 40 25 10 218 186 90
8 BOS 75 37 25 13 199 195 87
9 OTT 74 37 25 12 216 199 86
10 FLA 75 34 26 15 186 205 83
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 75 31 32 12 167 192 74
14 CAR 74 28 36 10 173 202 66
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 75 20 47 8 144 254 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 69 21 28 -11 49
J. Faulk 74 15 32 -17 47
E. Lindholm 73 16 21 -19 37
J. Skinner 69 18 13 -21 31
V. Rask 72 11 20 -11 31
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
N. Gerbe 70 7 17 -13 24
J. McClement 74 7 13 -3 20
A. Nestrasil 46 7 13 4 20
J. Staal 38 4 16 -7 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 20 21 5 .911 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 15 5 .903 2.62