We are suddenly only 3 days from the 2016 NHL draft and all of the fun that comes with it. The last draft saw a Canes fan dream come true when Noah Hanifin fell to the Hurricanes at #5 on Friday. Then on Saturday Canes GM Ron Francis pulled off 2 trades to add James Wisniewski and Eddie Lack. And to boot, the less newsworthy selection of Sebastian Aho in the second round has also turned out to be a great addition.
Here is hoping that the 2016 NHL draft weekend works out that well for the Canes.
But another huge part of the draft weekend is Ron Francis’ and his scouting team’s work selecting players who will help create a deeper team and organization 2-4 years down the road. I do not track pre-draft prospects other than to do research and reading, so I will mostly leave that to other experts as I post a short series of draft previews this week.
But at a more basic level, this Carolina Hurricanes blog will discuss the organizational needs and their impact on the Hurricanes selections.
The starting point system-wise
With the emergence of Noah Hanifin, Brett Pesce and Jaccob Slavin on the blue line to go with young leader Justin Faulk and also Ryan Murphy, the Canes are young at the NHL level on the blue line. They also have blue chip prospects Haydn Fleury and Roland McKeown moving up to the AHL level to join Trevor Carrick and others. Meanwhile the forward position sees two 2015 draftees in Sebastian Aho and Nicolas Roy on a great track but not enough players in the system to fill the NHL roster and minimal young depth at the AHL level.
When you net it out, the Canes need to add more forwards to balance out their players in the system.
Result is a strong forward bias early
The result is that Ron Francis and his scouting staff are likely to have a strong bias toward forwards at least with their early picks. If the Canes keep their 2 first round picks, I would guesstimate the odds that they take 2 forwards with these picks at something like 85-90 percent. Unless there is a defenseman who slips who the Canes scouting staff absolutely love, I think the Canes draft ‘best available forward’ followed by ‘best available forward’ with the #13 and #21 picks.
I would expect a slight bias toward adding skill/goal scoring, but I really think it is about taking the best available forward with these picks rather than having a bias toward a specific type of player at the expense of raw talent and potential.
But defensemen still later, especially with recent track record
But even with the current prospect pool a bit unbalanced, it is important to have a steady supply of players at all positions. Things change. Players do not work out. Veterans sometimes move on. Certain specific skill sets are needed. There always a need to be able to back fill slots on the NHL roster from the prospect pool. Because of that, do not expect the Canes to just select a complete run of forwards.
In 2012, the Hurricanes picked up Jaccob Slavin and Trevor Carrick in the third round. Then in 2013, the team added Brett Pesce in the third round. The Canes also had sixth-rounder Tyler Ganley from 2013 at least earn a contract and Josh Wesley who was a fourth-rounder in 2014 do the same.
The result is an incredibly strong recent track record turning mid-round defenseman selections into strong prospects. Right now, the Canes possess 3 third-round draft picks and also their fourth, fifth and sixth-rounders. I think this is the place where Francis and his team opportunistically look to add a defenseman or 2 who hopefully turns out like Pesce or Slavin.
Decent chance that some of the picks are spent as trade collateral
The draft sees the first round happen on Friday and then the draft pick up again on Saturday. Once GMs start sitting down and talking, I think there is a good chance that some of the picks are used as trade collateral to add 2016-17 roster players.
Draft coverage for the rest of the week will include some expert opinions on who the Canes should/will select with their early picks and probably also an update on my backseat driver attempt at building the 2016-17 roster.