In addition to all of the commotion around possible trades and free agency right around the corner, Canes fans will be treated to some actual hockey this week. The prospects arrived yesterday and practices which are open to the public begin on Wednesday. The full schedule is HERE.
I will add to it as the week rolls on and certainly write more of a game version for the scrimmage on Saturday, but here is the overview version of ‘what I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes Prospect Camp.
1) Andrei Svechnikov
One of the best parts of this annual event is the chance to get a first glimpse at the newly-drafted prospects. As when Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm were here, Andrei Svechnikov brings another high-end talent who will compete for a roster slot immediately. I always enjoy watching new players just to see their demeanor and personality on the ice and around the other players, and I also like getting a feel for their games and who they remind me of. I am hearing Marian Hossa for Svechnikov, so I will be watching to see if that checks out. In addition, as a player expected to play in the NHL this season, I will be watching to see if Svechnikov looks to be a level above this younger group of players who are not (at least yet) NHL caliber.
2) Jake Bean
His case is an interesting. He is a similarly high-pedigree draft pick selected in the front half of the first round but has taken a more step-wise development path playing two years in juniors after being drafted. Suddenly, he is a 20-year old veteran at this camp and is slated to take the next step moving up to the AHL in 2018-19. My assessment of his progress differs significantly from many others’ views. Many have him trying to win a bottom pairing role in the NHL in 2018-19. I see him needing a full year in the AHL continuing to work on the defensive side of his game before he is NHL-ready in that regard. As of last summer’s camp and also training camp, I saw him as a player with a ways to go defensively. No doubt, Bean will post some dazzling offensive plays. He will look comfortable carrying the puck. And he will look good in any offensive or power play drills. But specifically my watch points are the other side of the puck.
Has he improved his gap defending off the rush, or does he just keep backing up and backing up to the point where the offensive player can go where he wants and ultimately use him as a screen?
Does he stand out defensively in this group? As stated above, this is not NHL level hockey and much of the competition is 18 and 19 year olds. If Bean does not stand out defensively in this group, it means he will likely struggle come September.
3) The older college crew
In a group with the majority being 18 or 19, the group for NCAA forwards will return for their third or fourth prospect camp. If they are on track, players like Max Zimmer, Matt Filipe, Luke Stevens and David Cotton should play their way to the top of this group. Filipe played well in last summer’s event and boosted his standing in my informal prospect evaluations. I will be watching to see if he or any of the others can distance themselves from the young group this week.
4) Martin Necas
To be honest, I think the real watch point for Necas will be in training camp. He proved last year that he is at the top of this group and that he can create offense against this level of competition. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to get an updated read on him heading toward September.
5) First impressions
All of the six 2018 NHL draft picks will be in attendance as will defenseman Adam Fox (obtained in Hamilton trade) and Michael Fora (Swiss defenseman signed as a free agent), so this week presents a great chance to form first impressions for the newest group of prospects. As such I will be watching them closely.
What say you Canes fans?
Who will you be watching most closely this week?