Before back-to-back sets each of the past 2 weekends, I wrote Daily Cup of Joe posts that looked right past 2015-16 and to the future.
2 weekends ago I wrote: Who goes first? – An early look at tradable Hurricanes players
Then last weekend I wrote: Early look at potential destinations for Eric Staal
So based on the results of the games that followed and with another back-to-back set on Friday and Saturday, I will again look past the 2015-16 season and jump right to the 2016-17 and beyond.
Yesterday, I wrote a post that you can find HERE that tallied current Hurricanes players who are 23 years old or younger. The upshot is that things look promising a couple years out. The Canes roster suddenly has 9 players 23 years old or younger including 4 defensemen. When you also consider the quality and volume of young defensemen on the way, I think it is fair to say that the team’s future blue line projects very well right now. This makes sense given that the team has used high first round picks in 2014 and 2015 to add defensemen (Fleury then Hanifin). With Murphy, Carrick, McKeown and others already in the system, the expectation is that the Canes upcoming drafts will include a heavy focus on adding forwards with a bias toward adding a power forward or 2. The shopping will start at the 2016 draft that sees the Hurricanes with 5 picks in the first 3 rounds (its own 3 picks plus LA’s first-rounder and Winnipeg’s third-rounder).
Luckily for the Hurricanes the next draft is stocked with forward prospects in the top half of the draft. TSN’s most recent rankings just released today have 11 forwards in the top 14 who would go to the 14 teams that miss the 2015 playoffs. The prize of the draft is US-born Auston Matthews, but there are also a number of other good players including multiple forwards with above average size.
I do not personally track draft prospects close enough to project who goes where or who the Canes should take especially since it is not yet known where the Canes will pick, but I think the basic plan/hope would be as follows:
1-Unless there is a can’t miss prospect or someone who falls way too far, I expect the Canes to take the best available forward with both of their first round picks. Ideal would be to get at least 1 player who is ready enough physically that he could possibly compete for a roster spot in 2016-17.
2-Consider using a later pick or 2 to add a forward who is closer to NHL ready.
With that look into the future officially logged, I will anxiously turn back to watching 2015-16 hockey.