Ranking the Carolina Hurricanes prospects — Part 3A: Forwards (#1-5)

Ranking the Carolina Hurricanes prospects — Part 3A: Forwards (#1-5)

After a delay while covering the news of Brett Pesce’s contract extension (‘Initial thoughts’ are HERE, and ‘A second level of detail is HERE.), today’s Daily Cup of Joe is part 3A of a series assessing and ranking the Hurricanes prospects. Part 1 featured the five goalie prospects, and part 2 assessed the 15 defensemen in the Hurricanes organization. Part 3A today starts into the sizable group of prospect and AHL veteran forwards. So I can discuss at least the top half of the group in some detail without writing a novel, the forwards will be split into a couple parts.   Forwards Whereas the Hurricanes blue line prospect pool has a couple good high-end prospects but is actually a bit thin simply because so many young players have already jumped to the NHL level (which is obviously the goal, so that is a good thing), I would say that Francis’ restocking of the prospect pool is complete at the forward position. My rough count is 9 forwards who are capable of playing in the top half of an NHL roster and a good mix of centers and wings, size and speed, and skill and size. At the NHL level, I think the Hurricanes current strength is its young defense, but one level lower in the prospect pool I think the greatest strength is at the forward position. Without further ado, here are the top 5 forward prospect rankings…   Prospects with top half of the roster potential and scoring upside #1 – Julien Gauthier (Charlotte Checkers-AHL) Gauthier (Article log HERE) is nearly in a class by himself in...
Ranking the Carolina Hurricanes prospects — Part 2: Defensemen

Ranking the Carolina Hurricanes prospects — Part 2: Defensemen

Early on Monday morning, I started on a tour of the Hurricanes prospect pool and even talked myself into forging down the road of doing rankings at least at a positional level. The first article in the series which you can find here addressed the goalies.   Defensemen Part two will look at the prospect pool for the blue line. Because the Hurricanes have spent so many recent high draft picks on defensemen and also benefited from Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce rising up ahead of schedule, the general perception in our Hurricanes hockey community seems to be that the team is deep in terms of youth on the blue line. That is very clearly true at the NHL level where the team boasts a top with an average age under 23, but the rapid rise of the young NHL group has actually left a bit of a gap behind them in terms of the prospect pool. Francis restocked a bit in the 2017 NHL draft selecting three defensemen and there are still a couple higher-end players who are near NHL-ready but the volume of depth is actually still a little bit light right now. Without further ado, here is my ranking for the Hurricanes defense prospect pool…   Established prospects with top half of the roster potential #1 – Haydn Fleury (Charlotte Checkers-AHL) Fleury (Article log HERE) tops my list of prospect defensemen based on both reasonably high upside and a high probability of at least some leve of success. I have had him penciled in as a #5/#6 defenseman at the NHL level for some time now....
Ranking the Carolina Hurricanes prospects — Part 1: Goalies

Ranking the Carolina Hurricanes prospects — Part 1: Goalies

If you were away from hockey for a slow late July weekend, Canes and Coffee turned two years old on Saturday. Here is a short article with a tiny bit of history and a few tidbits on the future without spoiling any fall surprises. To date, I have never written an all-encompassing “top 20 prospects” type of article. I do not have anything against them. I think they are interesting reads if researched well by someone knowledgeable about the players (not all are) and considered in full context. But a couple issues have always stood in the way of breaking down and just writing one. First is that trying to rank players of different positions in one pool has always seemed odd for me. How does a possible steady defenseman stack up against a risky by high-ceiling potential goal scorer? And where even do goalies, especially young ones who are still at least three years away from being NHL-ready, compare to players who could make the NHL squad next year? And how do you compare a player with a fairly high probability of making it to the NHL but with a low checking line ceiling to a wild card with a ton of skill who could either be a top 6 forward or a complete bust? But with the slow part of summer upon and the state of the Canes prospect pool being a fun topic of discussion right now, I will at least take a step in the direction of a ‘top 20’ with a try at evaluating and ranking Hurricanes prospects by position. Once I finish that,...
Hurricanes sign Patrick Brown and Jake Chelios to bolster AHL roster and NHL depth

Hurricanes sign Patrick Brown and Jake Chelios to bolster AHL roster and NHL depth

Today it was announced that the Hurricanes had signed defenseman Jake Chelios (who was qualified yesterday) and forward and captain Patrick Brown to new contracts. Both players were key veteran components of the team that surged and broke the playoff drought for professional hockey in North Carolina when the Charlotte Checkers surged late and pushed into the playoffs. Combined with Monday’s Hurricanes’ moves that saw Trevor Carrick re-signed and Daniel Altshuller and Andrej Nestrasil turned loose when they were not qualified, the Charlotte Checkers’ roster is starting to take shape. I wrote about the set of decisions for Francis for the AHL level back on May 16. I also wrote about the changing of the guard at forward with so many players moving up from the junior ranks on May 8.   Patrick Brown When Derek Ryan departed, Patrick Brown took over as the captain of the Charlotte Checkers. He is a solid example of a good fringe AHL/NHL player. He is a good example, strong leader and productive player at the AHL level. And he has enough experience that he can be a serviceable #14 or #15 forward available from the AHL ranks in the event that a rash of injuries hits. With the Hurricanes forward depth increasing and the fourth line likely to be stocked with more scoring, I do not see Brown being in the mix at the NHL level unless injuries necessitate it.   Jake Chelios Like Brown, Jake Chelios was a key part of the Checkers’ 2016-17 success. He is a solid partner for a young player and a good experienced AHL defenseman. Like Brown,...
Checking In: Alex Nedeljkovic Charlotte Checkers 2016-17 season review

Checking In: Alex Nedeljkovic Charlotte Checkers 2016-17 season review

If you are catching up Alex Nedeljkovic is Charlotte Checkers’ 2016-17 player review #3 behind Haydn Fleury and Lucas Wallmark. Alex Nedeljkovic’s starting point coming out of the 2015-16 season Alex Nedeljkovic finished out his junior career with a season split between two different cities. He started out the year playing for the Flint Firebirds but was traded later in the season to the Niagara Icedogs for a possible shot at the OHL Championship. Nedeljkovic and the Icedogs would make it all the way to the OHL finals before being swept by the Mitch Marner-lead London Knights for the title. For the 2015-16 season as a whole, Nedeljkovic would finish 24-20-4, with a 2.91 GAA, and .907 save percentage. He also starred for Team USA in the 2016 World Junior Championships as he helped lead the team to a Bronze medal with a 1.66 GAA and .943 save percentage in seven games. Alex Nedeljkovic: 2016-17 with the Charlotte Checkers First half of 2016-17: Coming in with high expectations from his World Junior performance, Nedeljkovic did not have the start to the season that he or anyone else wanted. He was shelled in his first game as Checker, allowing four goals on 21 shots in just the first period alone. He would not see the ice after the first period, and the challenges did not end that night. Nedeljkovic would lose four out of his first five starts. He was had significant trouble corralling in long shots and allowed big rebound opportunities in front of the net because of it. He seemed to lack confidence in his ability and he...
Checking In: Lucas Wallmark Charlotte Checkers 2016-17 season review

Checking In: Lucas Wallmark Charlotte Checkers 2016-17 season review

If you missed it yesterday, a Charlotte Checkers season review for Haydn Fleury kicked off a series of articles evaluating the 2016-17 season for top Hurricanes prospects at the AHL level.   Lucas Wallmark’s starting point coming out of the 2015-16 season Lucas Wallmark spent the 2015-2016 season in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) playing for Luleå Hockeyförening. This was Wallmark’s third and final season in the SHL, and he decided to make it his best season in the SHL as well. He scored 8 goals and dished out 24 assists in 48 games. His point total was a 14 point increase from the prior season, and Wallmark was becoming more comfortable with finding his own shot and not just creating chances for others. This was evident with the 7 goals that he scored in the postseason with Luleå compared to tallying just 2 assists in 11 games.   Lucas Wallmark: 2016-17 with the Charlotte Checkers First of the season: Like Haydn Fleury but at a more amplified level, Wallmark entered the season with a timid approach. Even more than Fleury, he was being hesitant when it came to the offensive side of the puck. He wasn’t taking many shots, rather deferring to his pass the puck to his teammates for shots. Even when he was able to breakdown the defense and create an offensive play on his own, he did not often enough finish the play and take the shot. Because of this, he looked like a skilled playmaker at the beginning of the season but with not much of a goal scoring touch to his game. This...