Yesterday’s Daily Cup of Joe took an early look at the Carolina Hurricanes salary situation for the 2018-19 season.
One side thing that jumps out from looking at the salary situation is how many slots are open for AHLers as of right now. No doubt, some of those slots will be filled by re-signing free agents or adding a few proven NHLers, but there should be room for a couple rookies to play their way onto the roster.
That segues into today’s Daily Cup of Joe which takes a quick look at organizational depth below the NHL level by position.
If you missed it during the winter or just want to reread them for more Canes content on a slow offseason day, you can find a clickable menu of 15 check ins on Canes prospects who were below the AHL level in 2017-18 in our ‘Midterms’ series HERE.
Under Ron Francis, the Carolina Hurricanes stocked a decent goalie prospect pool with draft picks and patience. For 2018-19, the Hurricanes figure to have three prospect goalies who moved up from the Canadian Hockey League manning the nets in the minor leagues. Alex Nedeljkovic, Callum Booth and Jeremy Helvig will enter the season with two, one and zero years of professional experience. Nedeljkovic rebounded and made positive strides in 2017-18 after a tough transition year to the professional ranks in 2016-17. Booth and Helvig are tracking behind Nedeljkovic, but both excelled closing out their Canadian juniors play. Below them are Jack LaFontaine and Eetu Makiniemi who are both a couple paces back development-wise.
At the goalie position, it is more often than not a matter of throwing goalies with AHL experience into the NHL and seeing if they sink or swim. In that regard, the Hurricanes have strength in numbers and a good number of ‘maybes’ right now, but I would not say that NHL help is imminent for 2018-19 or necessarily any time frame on a guaranteed basis.
Prospect Volume=Good; Potential for High-End Help=Who knows; Roster Depth Potential=Good Because of Volume.
Because the Hurricanes hockey community has been raving about the emerging young blue line for a few years now, the assumption sometimes is that the pipeline is chock full of more NHL help. That actually is not true. The majority of the NHL-capable prospects have already matriculated to the NHL level. That combined with a couple defenseman-light drafts has the team’s defense prospect pool a bit depleted currently.
Roland McKeown is the only somewhat higher-end/near-ready right shot defenseman in the prospect pool right now. A bit farther down the line is 2017 draftee Luke Martin who just finished a strong freshman season at the University of Michigan. Worth noting is that Jaccob Slavin at the NHL level and Jake Bean in the prospect pool have both played a decent amount on the right side despite being left shots and could possibly move across if it became necessary to balance the pairings.
Jake Bean will take the next step forward when he moves up to the AHL for the 2018-19 season. He maintains every bit of the offensive upside that made him a first-round draft pick, but I think many significantly overrate his NHL-readiness and time table that will not be dictated by his offensive ability but rather by his ability to be at least adequate defensively. Regardless, Bean definitely qualifies as an NHL-capable prospect and is the flag bearer on the left side.
Past the three higher-end blue line prospects highlighted above, the Hurricanes organization includes a number of experienced, veteran AHL defensemen, and a group of later-round draft picks who are mostly early in their development. The true prospect part of the group includes Brendan De Jong (6th round, 2017), Ville Rasanen (7th round, 2017), Noah Carroll (6th round, 2016) and Josh Wesley (4th round, 2014).
Prospect Volume=Low; Potential for High-End Help=Jake Bean is likely all right now; Roster Depth Potential=Decent despite lack of volume with McKeown ready or near-ready and Bean next in line.
Up soon will be part two that takes a similar look at the Carolina Hurricanes’ forward prospect pool that is suddenly high on quantity and with decent potential to yield top half of the roster players too.
What say you Canes fans?
1) On the defensive side of the puck, which prospect(s) are you highest on?
2) Of Alex Nedeljkovic, Callum Booth and Jeremy Helvig, who do you think has the best chance to be an organic difference-maker at the goalie position?