Partly out of a need for optimism and hope, much recent talk about the Carolina Hurricanes focuses on the future of the team. This summer the centerpiece of that future was the collection of young defense prospects in the system. When Noah Hanifin fell into the Hurricanes lap at #5 overall, his selection bolstered an already strong and deep group of young defensemen. At the time, the timeframe was expected to be 2-3 years away, but now less than 6 months later, the future and the present are quickly merging. Noah Hanifin has been joined by Brett Pesce and Jaccob Slavin, and Ryan Murphy also saw significant time playing at the NHL level before being sent to the AHL.
The picture at forward is a bit murkier, but it is important to note that team already has a trio of young forwards who are top 6 capable playing at the NHL level and have more recently been joined by Phil Di Giuseppe who has looked promising in his short time in the NHL. Brock McGinn has also seen NHL action in 2015-16 and should figure to be in the mix going forward. After that, projecting additional players from the system is a bit tougher.
When you net it all out, the Hurricanes have nearly half of a roster of players who are 23 or younger:
Top 4 proven: Justin Faulk and too some degree Brett Pesce
Top 4 expected and in progress: Jaccob Slavin and Noah Hanifin
Top 9 proven: Victor Rask, Jeff Skinner and Elias Lindholm
Top 9 expected and in progress: Phil Di Giuseppe
At least a depth forward if not better: Joakim Nordstrom
That makes 9 current Carolina Hurricanes players who are 23 years old or younger and on the current NHL roster. Significantly, the majority of these players either are or have the potential to be ‘top half of the roster’ players.
If I can make the time to dig through other teams’ rosters, my hope is to post a part 2 in the next few days that compares this to other teams in the Metropolitan Division and possibly Eastern Conference.
The future is now!