After starting out with a full 10 prospect power rankings, we are down to just six Hurricanes draftees still active north of the border. Our top prospect last week, Janne Kuokkanen was called up to Charlotte following London’s elimination from the playoffs. While he did not see the ice in playoff action for the Checkers, it’s good that he’s getting this time to integrate early with the team. Jeremy Helvig and Noah Carroll’s teams were also eliminated. As for the players still in the playoffs, we’re now in the semi-finals in all leagues. Let’s see how the Hurricanes prospects are stepping up in crunch time.
1. Steven Lorentz – Peterborough Petes
9 Goals – 7 Assists – 16 Points in 12 games.
What a difference a week makes. After not losing a game in the first two rounds, Lorentz’ Petes team was swept by Mississauga. Lorentz led the Petes anemic offense with 4 points in those 4 games, and still gets the top spot, because Peterborough only scored 4 goals in those three games. In simpler terms, Lorentz carried that offense. Probably the most fun prospect to follow, I will be sad not to write about Lorentz next week. Still, it’s like someone, somewhere out there is listening to me. Congrats on the ELC, Steve! The Checkers will be much better for having Lorentz on the team.
2. Nicolas Roy – Chicoutimi Saguenéens
8 Goals – 10 Assists – 18 Points in 15 games
Roy and his game 2 game-winner were the first chinks in Saint John’s armor, and Chicoutimi is giving the Sea Dogs a far bigger fight than any mildly interested Hurricanes blogger could have predicted. Roy delivered two late game assists in Game 4 to tie the series at 2 and in the process, took over the lead for highest scoring Hurricanes prospect in the juniors playoffs. His surge should interest Hurricanes fans on multiple levels. For example, while I want to see him develop into a star center for the Hurricanes, one has to think the French Canadian would be a very valuable piece in a package for a certain Quebec-based NHL franchise currently in possession of Alex Galchenyuk.
— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) April 25, 2017
3. Warren Foegele – Erie Otters
7 Goals – 8 Assists – 15 Points in 15 games
Warren freaking Foegele is my hero. He doesn’t really wow anyone with the statistics, but if you look at the clutch late-game goals, Foegele is nearly always involved. He’s netted 3 goals in 4 games against Owen Sound, including yet another game-winner in Game 4. His continued play in clutch situations has been absolutely stellar this playoff season. He may never be an NHL star, but he could easily develop into that clutch, scrappy two-way player that every cup contender needs (see Williams, Justin). For that reason alone, he’s probably the prospect I’d least consider trading.
— Kathryn Jean (@msconduct) April 23, 2017
4. Callum Booth – Saint John Sea Dogs
10-1-1, 1.75 GAA, .917 Sv Pct
Well Booth no longer has to find ways to entertain himself in goal. After facing 15 shots a game in the first two rounds, Booth has seen 125 shots in the first four games against Nicolas Roy’s Chicoutimi team. While Booth did take his first couple losses, thanks in part to a Roy game-winner in overtime of game 2 , he still pitched a shutout in game 3 and is clearly on his ‘A’ game. His last loss dropped him from 2nd to 5th in save percentage, but he’s playing a huge role on the best team in the ‘Q’. Hot goalies make or break playoff runs. Booth is hot right now.
— Saint John Sea Dogs (@SJSeaDogs) April 26, 2017
5. Spencer Smallman – Saint John Sea Dogs
8 Goals – 6 Assists – 14 points in 12 games
Smallman has been reasonably solid with three assists in the last week, but who cares about playoff statistics when your team is winning big? He has some definite skill, but it is his intangibles and leadership qualities that I see being very valuable in Charlotte over the coming years. I don’t know if he takes that extra step in his development to earn regular NHL minutes, but he and Lorentz could be the leaders of some dominant Checkers teams in the years to come.
6. Julien Gauthier—Saint John Sea Dogs
(6 Goals – 3 Assists – 9 Points in 12 games)
After a ridiculously slow start to his playoffs, Gauthier has clearly picked it back up with 7 points in his last 6 games. Having not watched much of Gauthier this year, I can’t tell you where the gaps are in his play, but it is becoming increasingly apparent that Gauthier will only be as good as his linemates. Given his future line options in Raleigh, I don’t foresee that to be a huge problem. His physical prowess still has him, I believe, as one of the most NHL-ready prospects in our system. Yet, it will only be his ability to consistently put the puck in the net that can earn him a role in Raleigh any time soon.
The tribe has spoken…It’s time for your team to go.
Janne Kuokkanen – London Knights
10 Goals – 6 Assists – 16 Points in 14 games
It was a great run for Kuokkanen. There has been some debate on the CandC message boards whether Kuokkanen will play with London next year (though London seems to be pretty sure he isn’t) or if he returns to Finland to finish out that year with his old Karpat team. I was of the belief that he did not meet AHL requirements, but seeing as he’s European, those rules are wonky and he may end up in Charlotte next year after all. For all our sakes, I hope he remains on this side of the pond, but wherever he plays next year, he will still be one of the Hurricanes top prospects. This whole paragraph is irrelevant if Kuokkanen scores his way into a Carolina roster spot next year. Hey, it could happen.
Noah Carroll – Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds
0 Goals – 2 Assists – 2 Points in 11 games
His Sault Ste Marie team took a quiet loss, with Noah Carroll playing a quiet defensive role. I’d imagine he plays another year of juniors as an overager next year, but barring a major breakout, I see Carroll quietly fading into the oblivion of the multitude of 6th round picks who didn’t work out.
Jeremy Helvig – Kingston Frontenacs
4-7, 2.90 GAA, .892 Sv Pct
It is what it is. Kingston’s playoff chances leaned on a dominant Helvig. He wasn’t. We’ll see what he does in juniors next season, where he’ll likely be the clear #1 goalie in Kingston once again, but where Booth stepped up, and will challenge Altshuller and Nedeljkovic next season, Helvig took a firm backseat role in the Hurricanes Goalie-of-the-Future competition.
Hurricanes Prospects: True Future or Trade Bait?
It’s crunch time for the kids in Canada right now, and GMRF likely could not be happier to have six prospects getting significant playoff experience. Obviously, the AHL playoffs, let alone the NHL, is a whole other level of clutch competition than Canadian juniors, but, as we all well know, you don’t develop playoff skills by sitting at home. Here’s hoping these prospects, and their Checkers brethren, bring that playoff mentality with them to Carolina, seeing as we really don’t have one right now.
All that said, let’s conclude by addressing the elephant in the room. Someone on this list is likely going to be traded this offseason. Given his surging star and French Canadian background, I’d guess that (very sadly) Nicolas Roy would be one of the top names on this list, though both Saarela and Kuokkanen have seen their values jump quite a bit too. With this depth, I would not be shocked if we actually did pull off the miracle of netting a Top-6 forward using just picks and futures, but that is pure speculation at this point. For now, however, I’d still consider everybody on this list tradeable. Except Foegele. That kid is going to score a Stanley Cup game-winner someday, and I’m not trading him away. Foegele forever.