Today’s Daily Cup of Joe is part two of two looking at the Hurricanes prospect depth chart by position. Part one last week looked at goalies and defensemen.
Today’s part two looks at the team’s growing organizational depth at the forward position.
Disclaimer: Many of these players can play multiple positions, but I included each player only in one slot.
Carolina Hurricanes left wing prospects
Warren Foegele leads the pack at left wing and should compete for an NHL roster spot for the 2018-19 season. But past Foegele and the potential for a center to slide over to the left side, the next wave of help for the Hurricanes at left wing is mostly a couple years out into the future. The Hurricanes have mid/late round draftees Matt Filipe, Max Zimmer and Luke Stevens still developing in the NCAA ranks and also Hudson Elynuik who is rumored to be heading back into the draft.
Carolina Hurricanes right wing prospects
Somewhat similar to left wing, the Hurricane’s have a seemingly NHL-ready prospect in Valentin Zykov. The Hurricanes also have physically gifted first-rounder Julien Gauthier though his 2017-18 transition to the AHL was a mixed bag with healthy scratches and minimal production early before a better second half of the season. Past the top two, the situation also looks similar to left wing where the next wave of help is likely a couple years out. 2017 draftee Stelio Mattheos had a strong 2017-18 season, and the right wing prospect pool also includes Spencer Smallman. If the Hurricanes use the #2 overall draft pick to add Andrei Svechnikov to the mix, that would be a substantial boost for a position where Hurricanes are light on both depth and high-end potential.
Carolina Hurricanes center prospects
Last but not least is the center position where the Hurricanes have amassed a prospect pool with both quantity and quality. Martin Necas probably offers he highest ceiling of the group, but Lucas Wallmark and Janne Kuokkanen are also capable and potentially ready for the NHL level in 2018-19. Nicolas Roy might not be as flashy, but he offers a big frame, two-way acumen and a well-rounded game that is mature for his age. Then there is Aleksi Saarela who quickly proved he can score at the AHL level and also has a fairly high ceiling.
In addition to five players who could be NHL-ready sooner rather than later, the Hurricanes also have a decent group of players farther out into the future. Morgan Geekie had a strong season in the WHL and will move up to the AHL next season where he will join Steven Lorentz and Clark Bishop. Behind them, the Hurricanes have David Cotton playing NCAA hockey and Eetu Luostarinen who is playing in Finland.
Netting it out
In total, the Hurricanes are light on depth at both wing positions but could get a boost with the #2 overall draft pick this summer and possibly a natural center or two moving to wing. But despite lack of quantity, the Hurricanes do have Warren Foegele (LW) and Valentin Zykov (RW) who will be front runners from the AHL group to move up for the 2018-19 season.
The strength of the prospect pools is the center position where the Hurricanes have a good mix of high ceiling players (Necas) and players with strong all-around games and a decent volume of professional experience (Wallmark, Roy, Kuokkanen). At all three forward positions, the Hurricanes have a decent volume of prospects who would be in a next wave of players headed to the AHL in the next one to three years.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Of the players generally referred to as part of the “next wave” that is out a couple years, who do you like to rise up?
2) Of the group past Martin Necas at the center position, which, if any, of the players at the AHL level do you think could succeed at the NHL level?
3) Which of Warren Foegele, Valentin Zykvo and/or Martin Necas do you see making the 2018-19 opening day roster? Which dark horse beyond that group has the best chance to crack the NHL in 2018-19?