Today’s Daily Cup of Joe is another round of Carolina Hurricanes catch up with a short set of notes that either have not yet made it into an article or are covered in a bit more detail.
Jeremy Helvig is signed to an entry-level contract
Heading into the summer, the Hurricanes have three ‘sign or set free’ decisions to be made in terms of draftees — Jeremy Helvig, Hudson Elynuik and Noah Carroll. On Tuesday, the Hurricanes announced that they had signed goalie Jeremy Helvig to his entry-level contract. I called this a sure thing after my contacts for Helvig’s 2018 ‘Midterms’ article. From my published interview and also shorter check ins with a couple other sources who track Kingston and/or the OHL closely, Helvig received rave reviews for this 2017-18 season. Most commonly mentioned was his uncanny consistency for a young goalie in a workhorse role. Kingston is set up roster-wise for a deep run in the Canadian Hockey League playoffs, so Helvig has the potential to put an exclamation point on his OHL career and enter the AHL in 2018-19 as a player to watch closely.
What about Hudson Elynuik, Noah Carroll and others?
Helvig’s signing leaves only Spokane Chiefs forward Hudson Elynuik and Sault Ste. Marie defenseman Noah Carroll as key decision points for being signed or set free. I am on record as also declaring Elynuik (2018 ‘Midterms’ article HERE) to be a sure thing to be signed. He is having another good season with some progression as a player. He is still very raw compared to some prospects, but his ceiling is high enough that it should be an easy decision to invest three years in his entry-level contract. That leaves Noah Carroll (2018 ‘Midterms’ article HERE) who could go either way. He is having a solid even if not spectacular season in a middle of the roster role on a tremendous team. What benefits Carroll is the relative lack of Hurricanes blue line prospects in his age group. Only Roland McKeown and Jake Ben rate as a medium to higher-end defense prospects at the AHL level for the 2018-19. Per my AHL roster-focused article on Tuesday, the Hurricanes will no doubt keep most if not all of the veteran AHL defensemen who have had decent 2018-19 seasons, but it might also make sense to add another younger prospect to the pool. I lean 55/45 on Carroll being signed largely because there is room.
Otherwise, the Hurricanes have a number of college and European prospects who could be signed to entry-level contracts and move up to the AHL but whose rights are still intact if they just remain in the NCAA or in Europe. Martin Necas is already signed, but best guess is that none of the other NCAA or European prospects are signed yet.
Luke Martin and Jack LaFontaine in the Frozen Four with significantly different impacts
The upstart and underdog Michigan Wolverines emerged victorious last weekend and in doing so advanced to the Frozen Four. Luke Martin (2018 ‘Midterms’ article HERE)led the way from the early-going when the Wolverines were struggling a bit and trying to build a season. He continues to be a core component of the team’s blue line and has boosted his stock in the process.
At the other end of the spectrum is Hurricanes goalie prospect Jack LaFontaine (2018 ‘Midterms’ article HERE)who also plays for Michigan. That article and a couple other conversations suggested that it could make sense for Jack LaFontaine to leave Michigan after the 2017-18 to find a new opportunity and more ice time. Long story short, the Wolverines putting things together coincided with Hayden Lavigne seizing and keeping the Michigan starter role. With Michigan also having another highly-touted goalie in its recruiting class for next year, LaFontaine seems currently to be the odd man out in terms of playing time for the 2018-19 season. So once the NCAA ends, LaFontaine could be one to watch during the offseason.
The WHL is the place to watch for Canes prospects in playoff action
For those looking to track Hurricanes prospects in the Canadian Hockey League playoffs, the Western Hockey League offers the most bang for your buck. In case you missed it, check out Canes and Coffee’s preview for the CHL playoffs that include seven Canes prospects.