The Hurricanes love three types of players in the draft: Swedes, NCAA kids and Plymouth Whalers. The latter makes the most sense, since Carolina owner Peter Karmanos also owned the Whalers, but the Canes also employ ex-Plymouth coach-GM Mike Vellucci in their front office now. And while Alex Nedeljkovic and Josh Wesley were good picks last season, there are no prominent Whalers available this summer (plus Karmanos sold the squad). As for the Swedes and college kids, they give Carolina long-term projects, though Elias Lindholm was elite enough to jump right in.
Round 1, pick 5
Round 2, pick 35
Round 3, pick 66
Round 4, picks 93, 96
Round 5, picks 126, 138
Round 6, picks 156, 169
Round 7, pick 186
The Hurricanes seriously need offense, especially since Eric Staal’s contributions are trending down. Growth from Lindholm and health for Jeff Skinner and Jordan Staal would help, but with a high pick this summer, Carolina has a nice chance to address this gap.
Justin Faulk has emerged as a go-to defenseman but needs backup. Haydn Fleury, the 2014 first-round pick, is the most obvious candidate, followed by University of New Hampshire product Brett Pesce. The Hurricanes dealt Andrej Sekera and Jay Harrison, and the leftover veterans are not top-four material. Getting more weapons at the draft would go a long way for the future.
Carolina has about $20 million in cap space. How the Hurricanes view next season will determine how much they use. They have no big free agents to retain but need warm bodies, especially on defense.
IN THE SYSTEM 2015-16
Fleury’s Red Deer Rebels are hosting the Memorial Cup, so he’ll stay in junior. Pesce ended his college career when he signed his pro deal in March and may be an option, while Sergey Tolchinsky – a great free agent grab from Sault Ste. Marie – would provide scoring punch on the wing.
DID YOU KNOW
Wesley played forward for much of his youth in North Carolina before being converted to defense – the position his dad Glen Wesley was famous for with the Hurricanes.
THN will be releasing its Team Reports from Draft Preview for each of the 30 NHL franchises in the week leading up to the NHL Draft. Read them in our “Draft” channel.