Thus far, the summer has been a tumultuous one. As forewarning of things to come, Ron Francis was let go suddenly after the trade deadline. Since then the changeover has been significant.
Head Coach Bill Peters left and later Assistant Coach Steve Smith.
Emerging young players Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin were traded.
Free agents Cam Ward, Derek Ryan, Lee Stempniak, Joakim Nordstrom and Klas Dahlbeck departed.
And most recently, long-time star Jeff Skinner was traded.
The headlines have been fast, furious and significant such that they have captured most of the attention of media and fans tracking the team.
But quietly and somewhat behind the scenes, the team has had a strong offseason in terms of boosting its prospect pool and with it the hope for the future.
The 2018 NHL Draft
The big news transpired when the Hurricanes vaulted up the draft table at the lottery and won the #2 overall pick and the right to draft Andrei Svechnikov which they did. Svechnikov will likely leapfrog right past the prospect pool and into the NHL, but that is obviously a good problem to have.
Minus a pick from the standard allotment of seven, the Hurricanes added six players which is actually one fewer than the standard seven picks each team receives.
Scouting the world and adding older prospects
But the Hurricanes added two older prospects from Europe as free agents to boost their prospect pool.
At 24 years old Finnish forward Saku Maenalanen is not the prototypical young but with potential down the road type prospect. Rather, he looks a bit more like Derek Ryan as a bit of a late bloomer was excelling in Europe and could be closer to NHL-ready than younger prospects possibly at the expense of having a slightly lower ceiline.
Then on the defensive side of the puck, the Hurricanes again added a free agent from Europe, this time a defenseman in Michael Fora. The 22-year old Fora held up well in world competition in the spring against a mix of NHL-caliber talent. Like Maenalanen, Fora is a bit farther along in his development.
If unable to surprise and crack the NHL roster in October, the two theoretically replace older AHL veterans with players with greater potential to help at the NHL level.
The big trade bonus
The core of the trade with Calgary was obtaining top-end defenseman Dougie Hamilton as part of the plan to revamp the blue line. Micheal Ferland also makes it a two for two deal in terms of players slotted for the NHL in 2018-19.
But the extra that the Hurricanes received in prospect defenseman Adam Fox could prove to be a significant addition down the road. Available supposedly because he might not sign before graduating in two years, Fox could turn into a steal. He is from the same undersized, freewheeling, offense creating mold as Jake Bean. After watching him at prospect camp, I bumped him ahead of Jake Bean and Luke Martin on the Hurricanes defenseman prospect rankings. Scott Wheeler from The Athletic is also high on Fox ranking him as the 34th best NHL prospect right now (subscription required).
The return for Jeff Skinner
I am on record as calling the return for Jeff Skinner disappointing. My plan did call for trading Skinner for futures, but I would have hoped for a first-round pick and/or a true top tier prospect.
But nonetheless, the trade added another set of futures to the Hurricanes already strong pool. Cliff Pu is a good mid-tier prospect who is somewhat similar to Warren Foegele as a player who projects to be a capable middle six or third line forward down the road. He adds to the growing depth that the Hurricanes have at the forward position.
In addition, the Hurricanes netted second, third and sixth round draft picks that currently schedule the team to get more than the standard seven draft picks in each of the next two drafts.
Netting it out
When one adds it up, in addition to the draft, the Hurricanes added four prospects of mid or higher level and also three draft picks. That goes a long way toward continuing to increase depth and replenish the system as a couple more players move up to the NHL level.
We will need to wait for the season to transpire before we can assess what has been done at the NHL level, but because it has included only addition and no subtraction, the summer can already be counted as a big win on the prospect front.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Did you catch the behind the scenes work bolstering the prospect pool over the summer?
2) Which of Saku Maenalanen, Michael Fora, Adam Fox or Cliff Pu most excites you looking into the future?
3) Who has other comments or additional discussion questions related to the Carolina Hurricanes prospect pool right now?