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...
Checking In: Haydn Fleury Charlotte Checkers 2016-17 season review

Checking In: Haydn Fleury Charlotte Checkers 2016-17 season review

In a format somewhat similar to the 2016-17 NHL-level player report cards, Jordan Futrell will be writing a series of 2016-17 reviews for many of Hurricanes’ top prospects who spent the 2016-17 with the Charlotte Checkers in the AHL.   Haydn Fleury’s starting point coming out of the 2015-16 season Haydn Fleury played his final year in the Western Hockey League (WHL) for the Red Deer Rebels in 2015-2016. Fleury probably had the best regular season of his junior career, totalling 41 points in 56 games played and finishing as an overall +18. In the post-season, he helped lead Red Deer to the WHL conference finals, tallying 4 goals and 5 assists in 17 games. For the Memorial Cup, Fleury finished second among defensemen in total points with 4, outdone only by future 5th overall pick Olli Joulevi who had 7. Not only did Fleury’s total points per game improve in his last junior season, but his defensive game was also better. He became more of a physical defender on the ice, using his larger frame to his advantage against smaller opponents.   Haydn Fleury: 2016-17 with the Charlotte Checkers First half of the season: Fleury would not start the 2016-17 season out guns blazing as he might have hoped. For the majority of the first half of the year, he looked a little timid on the ice. As a rookie that can be natural, not wanting to make any major mistakes right at the beginning of his professional career is something that absolutely goes through a player’s mind. Fleury only registered 4 points through November, and he suffered...
Checking In: Charlotte Checkers 2016-17 season recap part 1 — Season summary

Checking In: Charlotte Checkers 2016-17 season recap part 1 — Season summary

A Solid Start The Charlotte Checkers entered the 2016-2017 season with high hopes of making the playoffs, after failing to qualify for the AHL postseason the previous year by just a few percentage points. The team would bring in some exciting young talent and fresh faces with Haydn Fleury, Roland McKeown, Lucas Wallmark, Alex Nedeljkovic, and Valentin Zykov. The Checkers would also return key players from the season prior including; Derek Ryan, Brock McGinn, Sergey Tolchinsky, and Trevor Carrick. The start of the 2016-2017 season also saw the Checkers bring in their third head coach in three seasons in Ulf Samuelsson. The first nine to ten games of the season were the only games that the opening day roster would play together for the entire year. During those ten games the Checkers played solid hockey, going 7-3-0 and finding themselves as one of the top team’s in the Western Conference. Team Captain at the time, Derek Ryan, would score 13 points in his first nine games played looking even more dominant than the year before and displaying great offensive awareness on the ice. Brock McGinn posted a seven-game point streak early in the season and looked about as good as he ever had looked in a Checkers’ uniform. McGinn did a terrific job of playing both sides of the puck while down in Charlotte and bringing a physical aspect to his game which is something he was known for in junior hockey. Andrew Poturalski established himself as one of the top rookies in the AHL this season scoring four goals in the first three games of the year. He...