Today’s Daily Cup of Joe looks at the draft itself from a high level.
Carolina Hurricanes 2019 NHL Draft picks
After entering the draft with a couple extra picks in hand already and then trading down to collect a few more draft picks, the Hurricanes exited the draft with a haul of 12 new prospects which is five more than the usual seven rounds of picks that each team is given. The team added eight forwards, three defensemen and one goalie.
Unfortunately, I do not have the time right now to compile a list of grades by experts for the Carolina Hurricanes 2019 draft, but the grades are overwhelmingly positive. The team gets high marks both for the quantity of players added to the prospect pool but also the quality of those picks. Add in collecting another first-round draft pick for the 2020 NHL Draft, and the Hurricanes significantly improved its prospect pool this past weekend.
Carolina Hurricanes team-building strategy
In my article on the Patrick Marleau trade, I talked about the Hurricanes’ continued emphasis on building from within. Since the team started stockpiling picks and prospects a few years back while rebuilding, it has long been assumed that the Canes would utilize the prospect depth to add roster players. At some point, the Canes will inevitably trade futures for players, but anyone who believes that is the overarching strategy is not watching what the team is doing.
My similar comments from the other article were:
For a couple years now, the Hurricanes have been stockpiling prospects and draft picks that will allegedly be used to add players to boost the Hurricanes roster. It all makes sense at a conceptual level because teams have used this approach before. And at some point the Hurricanes will trade some futures to add a player.
But I think declaring this as the Hurricanes plan increasingly misses what the team is actually doing.
What the Hurricanes have actually done over the past few years is collect and keep prospects and draft picks. The fact that the Hurricanes who entered with three second-round draft picks actually used all of them (either drafting or trading for even more draft picks) is the quantity sign of the Hurricanes’ strategy. But I actually think the Marleau deal is even more telling. The Carolina Hurricanes who are allegedly cheap spent $2.8 million to basically buy an extra first-round draft pick for next year. No doubt, the Hurricanes will at some point use some of the available futures to trade for a player, but it is becoming increasingly obvious that the team’s overarching strategy is to build from within. Every team pays this lip service, but the Hurricanes are at a different level right now accumulating extra draft picks and prospects.
Strategy for player selection
Emphasis on under-scouted leagues and geographies
The Carolina Hurricanes strategy for selecting players is also become more obvious. In recent years, the Hurricanes have overemphasized leagues and regions that are a bit less common and certainly less scouted than the primary Canadian junior leagues. In the 2019 NHL Draft, the Hurricanes continued the run of selecting players from junior leagues in Finland and also added two players from the secondary British Columbia Hockey League and a US high school player.
The team’s trend of finding players in less scouted leagues became even more obvious with the 2019 NHL Draft.
Willingness to consider skill set diversity
The Hurricanes eclectic mix of players showed a willingness to draft speed and skill even if some of it came in the form of undersized players. In addition, the Canes made a bold move spending an early second-round pick to add a goalie. The Hurricanes took somewhat undersized defensemen Anttoni Honka (5-10 and 179 pounds) and Domenick Fensore (5-7 and 151 pounds). The Hurricanes also ventured into the (allegedly) undersized category at forward too in drafting Jamieson Rees (5-10 and 172 pounds), Tuuka Tieksola (5-10 and 146 pounds) and Massimo Rizzo (5-10 and 175 pounds).
At a general level, I love the idea of identifying quality players who rate well for speed and skill but maybe fall a bit because of lack of size. Bigger is still better than smaller in the NHL, but speed and skating trumps skating in today’s NHL.
In addition, I think oftentimes people incorrectly consider short and small to be the same thing. Especially players in the 5-10-ish range can incorrectly be labeled as undersized when in fact that bring a lower center of gravity and lower body strength that is more than of a Mark Recchi than a player who is weak physically.
I will share first impressions from seeing these players in person this week during the summer prospect camp and will at some point follow up with additional analysis for each player.
What say you Canes fans?
1) What is your overall impression of the Carolina Hurricanes’ 2019 draft?
2) Which player(s) are you most excited to see?