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,...
Recap/notes from Canes Camp scrimmage

Recap/notes from Canes Camp scrimmage

With a crazy busy week and enough other stuff to fill up the weekend, Sunday Canes Chronicle is taking the week off with a probable return next Sunday.   With the aligning of the stars that saw the scrimmage finale for the Carolina Hurricanes prospect camp and the start of NHL free agent season both start at 12pm, Saturday was likely to be an eventful day for the Caniac Nation. And neither event disappointed. On the free agent front, at the intermission of the scrimmage, the team announced the signing of Justin Williams on the video board. I offered my initial thoughts on the signing HERE, and a short set of reader polls and some discussion is also in a Coffee Shop post HERE. The prospect scrimmage which is recapped below also impressed.   General impressions The format of the prospect scrimmage fits well for showcasing offensive talent. The game featured a shortened period of 4-on-4 hockey followed by another shortened period of 3-on-3 hockey followed by a 5-player (someone correct me if my count was wrong) shootout. In addition, the camp was heavier on forwards, so a decent number of the four-man units included three forwards. The result was some fairly wide open and loose play that gave the offensive players a chance to sign and served the goalies with a challenging task. At a basic level, what stands out about the camp when I look back a few years is the increase in the number of players who at least have a chance to be top-tier NHL players. Not all of them will make it obviously, but...
‘What I’m watching’ for Canes Camp Saturday scrimmage – The 2016 draft class

‘What I’m watching’ for Canes Camp Saturday scrimmage – The 2016 draft class

In case you have been busy, here is a quick reading list on the Canes prospect camp so far: I previewed the week with a ‘what I’m watching’ style series that covered the prospects player by player. I offered my first impressions on a number of players after the Wednesday practice. And Craig Johnson was kind enough to offer a guest post covering the Thursday practice. Friday at 11am the Hurricanes prospects were on the ice for the third consecutive day of high-paced practice. Little by little, I continue to form at least baseline impressions for the new players and also measure improvement for the group that is returning. The week finishes up with the scrimmage on Saturday. Part of the story for Saturday is seeing which of these guys are strong enough to find their legs at the end of the week for the scrimmage. Rather than going line-by-line through individual plays from Friday’s scrimmage, I will instead use the past couple days to offer broader thoughts on the returning prospects. This article will hone in specifically on the 2016 draft class, and if I can make the time, I will follow up with the other prospects later. Important to note is that these players are mostly 18 or 19 years old, so identifying gaps in their games is the norm and not an indictment of their potential.   Julien Gauthier My view of Gauthier is pretty similar to what it has been all along. He is NHL-ready physically and has an impressive level of skating, agility and skill that is not the norm for a power forward...
Canes Camp: Guest notes from Craig Johnson for Thursday’s practice

Canes Camp: Guest notes from Craig Johnson for Thursday’s practice

Matt’s comments: I am in the middle of one of those stretches of life where running a hockey website does not align with broader life. I managed to swap some amount of sleep to keep up with things in total but could not make it to prospect camp on Thursday night. Thankfully, Canes and Coffee is luck to have a well-timed guest article covering Thursday’s practice. I would love to hear other attendees’ thoughts on Thursday’s practice on top of Craig’s below.   Craig Johnson bio Craig (Twitter=@cwjohnson23) grew up in Virginia where he played dangerously thin ice pond hockey on a nearby pond those couple of times a year when it froze over. The Capitals were his team by geography, but they were pretty horrible and tough to follow. Fast forward to 2000 when Craig and his family moved from Wilmington to Raleigh. A good friend took him to a couple of Hurricanes games (his company had killer seats) and Craig was hooked. For the 17 years since, Craig has been an “on again/off again” season ticket holder. He attended every home game of both Stanley Cup runs, culminating with going to the 2006 Finals game with his 8 year old and 10 year old sons. Craig and his family remain die-hard Caniacs. Craig lives in Chapel Hill and writes occasionally for both CanesCountry and the new CanesEdge blogs. Craig’s prospect camp notes from Thursday As I’ve intimated previously, the 2nd day of prospect camp tends to be much more telling as the kids are stiff, tired, but also more aware of processes and expectations. Today was no...