Carolina Hurricanes GM Don Waddell has done a wonderful job of building an NHL roster that has been a legitimate contender for the last few seasons, and the prospect pool hasn't suffered because of it, either.
That isn’t the case, though, as Waddell and the scouting staff has done an impressive job of scooping up quality talent through the draft.
One of the common themes in the Hurricanes' drafting is that they seem to value European prospects a bit more than other organizations. They are willing to take a chance on a highly skilled Finnish player or a Russian that some teams may fear because of the “Russian factor” which was ever more present this year.
The defensive pipeline is stocked with talent. They have decent defensive blueliners such as Alexander Nikishin and Tarmo Reunanen, and Aleksi Heimosalmi and Domenik Fensore handle the offensive side of things quite well. Add n Scott Morrow and Anttoni Honka, and it's clear defensive depth is a strength
Their forward group is much of the same in that regard. They have a diverse group of forwards, with high-end finishers such as Noel Gunler and Alexander Perevalov and silky playmakers such as Ryan Suzuki and Zion Nybeck, among others.
2022 NHL Draft Class
Round 2 (60 Overall) - Gleb Trikozov, L, Omskie Yastreby [MHL]
Round 3 (71 Overall) - Alexander Perevalov, L, Loko Yaroslavl [MHL]
Round 4 (101 Overall) - Simon Forsmark, D, Orebro HK [SHL]
Round 4 (124 Overall) - Cruz Lucius, R, U.S. National Development Team [USHL] Round 5 (156 Overall) - Vladimir Grudinin, D, Krasnaya Armiya [MHL]
Round 6 (171 Overall) - Jakub Vondras, G, Plzen [Czech Jrs.]
Round 7 (205 Overall) - Alexander Pelevin, D, Nizhny Novgorod [MHL]
The Carolina Hurricanes didn’t have a first-round pick this year. but that didn’t stop them from having a strong draft. A great deal of that intrigue comes from their lack of hesitance to draft Russian-born players; the Canes drafted four players out of Russia with their seven picks whereas no other team drafted more than two.
Winger Gleb Trikozov was a sneaky good value selection at 60th overall. The Russian winger has a howitzer of a shot and plays with speed and pace to his game that NHL teams generally covet. His offensive mindset is cerebral and lethal as both a playmaker and shot creator. A few picks later, the Canes took winger Alexander Perevalov, another creative and skilled offensive player. Both Trikozov and Perevalov are high-upside, high-octane players who exemplify the Canes’ draft philosophy.
Simon Forsmark was the Canes’ fourth-round pick at 101st overall and while his offensive numbers may seem like he is an offensive blueliner, there is more to the story. His game is more of a two-way game that leans defensively. He uses his mobility and play-reading ability to defend well. He makes a good first pass out of the zone and moves play up ice efficiently.
Cruz Lucius is the younger brother of Winnipeg Jets’ prospect Chaz. Cruz is more of a playmaker than his brother, with some deceptive passing ability and shifty hands. His skating will need work, but the offensive skill is excellent value in the fourth round.
Vladimir Grudinen and Alexander Pelevin are strong skating defenders who use their mobility in every facet of their game. From closing gaps when defending transition to attacking space with the puck on their stick, both Grudinen and Pelevin could be massive steals in the fifth and seventh rounds respectively. Yet again, the Canes just take advantage of players who fell in the draft.
The strength of the Hurricanes is that they have a boat load of everything everywhere. Every position has a group of players with diverse skill sets and levels of risk. They even have a high-end goalie prospect in Pyotr Kochetkov who we saw a few times in the NHL last season. The Canes have done an excellent job of using trading back and maximizing assets by taking a chance on players earlier in the draft than other teams. From Trikozov to Suzuki and Morrow to Nikishin, the insane variance in skill sets and talents in the Canes system is admirable.
It’s hard to pick apart a system as solid as Carolina’s, but the fact is that they lack an A-level prospect. They have plenty of players with huge upside, such as Morrow on the blueline and Trikozov or Gunler up front, but don't have a true game-changer. That's the price to pay for being quite a good team for multiple years. With that said, they have 20-year-old Seth Jarvis and 22-year-old Andrei Svechnikov who both look like absolute studs in their own right, so they're in good shape.
Next Man Up: C Jack Drury
The Hurricanes have a very solid NHL roster but that doesn’t mean they won’t need a young player to come up and fill a role. The departure of Vincent Trocheck, Max Domi, and Nino Niederreiter were all important pieces to the squad last year and while some players such as Jesperi Kotkaniemi will step up and fill the void, they'll need more. Jack Drury has paid his dues at the AHL level after a year in Sweden during the pandemic.
He doesn’t have a true standout skill, but the former Harvard University forward has an innate intuition for positioning, and with a high motor, Drury is greater than the sum of his parts. With a fourth-line center role and a possible wing position on the third line, Drury should have the opportunity to take a hold of a full-time roster spot.
Prospect Depth Chart Notables
LW: Gleb Trikozov, Zion Nybeck, Patrik Puistola, Vasili Ponomaryov
C: Ryan Suzuki, Jamieson Rees, Jack Drury, Justin Robidas
RW: Noel Gunler, Ville Koivunen, Alexander Pashin, Tuukka Tieksola
LD: Alexander Nikishin, Simon Forsmark, Domenik Fensore, Tarmo Reunanen
RD: Scott Morrow, Aleksi Heimosalmi, Anttoni Honka
G: Pyotr Kochetkov
For a deeper dive into the prospect pool with player rankings, check out the Yearbook and Future Watch editions of the Hockey News print edition.