With throngs of traditional calendar public school children in Raleigh and the rest of Wake County returning to school this week, it seems like a good time to check in on the newest Hurricanes prospects who are headed off to play NCAA hockey.
Each of hopefully a couple articles will feature short exit interviews from each player’s previous coach and also some insight into their new situation from someone who covers their NCAA team.
First up is Matt Filipe whom the Carolina Hurricanes selected in the third round of the 2016 NHL draft. Filipe played for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders in the USHL for the 2015-16 season and will be joining the Northeastern Huskies for the 2016-17 season.
Comments from Matt Filipe’s USHL coach Mark Carlson
Mark Carlson is the President, Head Coach and General Manager of the USHL Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. His illustrious career includes multiple championships (including 2015-16) and 3 USHL Coach of the Year awards. His full bio can be found on the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders web site.
Canes and Coffee: How would you describe Matt Filipe’s game in 2-3 sentences. What are his strengths?
RoughRiders Coach Mark Carlson: Matt is a powerful winger that skates very well and has a scoring touch. Matt is a team player.
Canes and Coffee: What areas do you see for improvement at Northeastern University as he continues to develop as a player over the next 2-3 years?
RoughRiders Coach Mark Carlson: Matt will continue to round out his game at Northeastern, he will continue to learn the defensive side of the game and his offensive game will improve as well.
Canes and Coffee: Which NHL player(s) would you compare his game to?
RoughRiders Coach Mark Carlson: Matt reminds me some of Kris Draper, skating and power, speed.
Canes and Coffee: Do you have any other thoughts/comments on Matt Filipe that are not covered by the questions above?
RoughRiders Coach Mark Carlson: I really enjoyed coaching Matt, a tremendous guy in the room, great team member!
Comments on Matt Filipe’s situation entering Northeastern from Mike Downie at the Northeastern Hockey Blog
Mike Downie covers Northeastern University Huskies hockey for the Northeastern Hockey Blog which provides high-end insight, opinions, and news regarding the Northeastern Men’s Hockey program.
Canes and Coffee: How did Northeastern finish up the 2015-16 season? What is the outlook for the 2016-17 season?
Mike Downie from the Northeastern Hockey Blog: Northeastern enters 2016-17 as the defending Hockey East conference champions for the first time since 1988. The 2015-16 season started out disastrously, with a 13 game winless streak and no conference wins in the first half of the season for the first time in school history. Despite the results, their underlying numbers showed a good, positive-possession team that had nothing go their way. The team shooting percentage fell as low as 3% and their PDO hovered at or below 90 for months.
In the second half of the year, the bounces finally came around and the season did a complete 180. The team went 16-0-1 in conference play down the stretch and posted the best record in the history of the Hockey East tournament. They had the best second half record in the NCAA and set new school records across the board, including most second-half wins, longest unbeaten streak, and longest winning streak. They ultimately fell in the NCAA tournament to eventual National Champion North Dakota.
Canes and Coffee: What are you hearing about Matt Filipe prior to his arrival for his freshman season?
Mike Downie from the Northeastern Hockey Blog: Matt Filipe is one of the highest-regarded prospects Northeastern has ever brought in, and is the highest drafted forward to enter the program since 2008. He can play both center and wing and is a force on the ice with a 6’2” 203 pound frame that is going to get even bigger and stronger once he arrives on campus and starts conditioning work. He has a legacy to live up to. His father Paul was a Northeastern Hall of Fame defenseman in the ‘80’s who led the Huskies through their best four-year stretch in program history. He’ll have to earn his place, but there’s no reason Filipe can’t also have a significant impact on the program. The hope is that by the time he leaves Northeastern for the pros, he’s an elite power forward and a top centerman in college hockey.
Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan was impressed with Filipe’s development with Cedar Rapids of the USHL last season, noting that Filipe not only came on strong offensively after a slow start, but also made tremendous strides in his defensive game. Madigan said Filipe “[is] heavy on pucks, strong, a great skater with great offensive ability” and “[will provide] some key offensive production for us as well as playing a 200-foot game” (quotes courtesy of GoNU.com). Good defensive ability is not only key for a power forward hoping to break into the NHL, but key for Filipe to gain a larger role at NU as well. Flashy players who don’t bring much else to the table have a history of either growing their defensive game exponentially in their time at NU or being left behind. Considering Filipe already started that development at Cedar Rapids under former NU coach Mark Carlson, he should easily find himself a mainstay in the lineup from his first day on campus.
A good comparable for Matt Filipe who recently came out of the college ranks is former Boston College forward and current New York Ranger Kevin Hayes. Hayes came to BC as a power forward with significant junior success and improved every year in college, culminating in a senior season where he averaged over 1.5 PPG, was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award (the hockey version of the Heisman) and immediately began his NHL career playing in a top-nine role on the Rangers.
Canes and Coffee: Where do you foresee Matt Filipe slotting into the NU lineup in terms of role, line, ice time and maybe an early projection for line mates?
Mike Downie from the Northeastern Hockey Blog: The Huskies return a strong corps of upperclassmen for this season, including 8 seniors at forward. So as a freshman, Filipe is likely to start his career in a bottom six role and see playing time at both center and wing, as well as some limited time on the power play. Going forward, he should be skating in the top six or even on the first line by the start of 2017-18.
This year, Filipe will likely begin the season either by centering Grant Jozefek and Lincoln Griffin or on the wing alongside Sam Kurker and Brendan Collier. Jozefek and Griffin are fellow 19 year olds who can grow with Filipe, and the three of them together should develop into the core of the Huskies’ top lines for seasons to come. Seniors Collier and Kurker provide both NHL potential and strong leadership, with Kurker a former second round pick of the Blues and Collier, an assistant captain of the Huskies, a former pick of your own Carolina Hurricanes.
Either combination should benefit Filipe. Jozefek has a well-earned reputation as a crafty playmaker who should be able to get the puck to Filipe in front of the net regularly, while Kurker (6’3”, 219 lbs) and Filipe could form a dominant forechecking presence on a team whose gameplan is to cycle, maintain puck possession, and stay in the offensive zone for minutes at a time. If Filipe finds success early on while some other players struggle, he could easily move up to the wing in the Huskies’ top six, where he would likely be skating with two other NHL picks, Vancouver’s Adam Gaudette and Chicago’s Dylan Sikura, both of whom received praise from their organizations this offseason about their development at NU.
A huge thank you to Coach Mark Carlson and Mike Downie for helping provide coverage on Hurricanes prospect Matt Filipe!