Thursday at Canes and Coffee is taking on a “the future is bright” theme. Check out also part 1 of Jordan Futrell’s Charlotte Checkers playoff series preview HERE, and come back and look for part 2 mid-day on Thursday.
I love nerding out on hockey. It’s just such a fun sport any way you look at it. Especially when the statistical research shows how awesome the Hurricanes prospect pool is right now. The number of prospects in this week’s Power Rankings has dropped to nine (bye, Jake Bean). Trying to rank the Top 5 this week was especially problematic, as multiple Hurricanes prospects decided to step up their games in the last week, and really deliver for their teams in the playoffs. Suffice it to say, that’s a very good problem to have. Let’s get to it:
1. Janne Kuokkanen – London Knights (Last week #3)
10 Goals – 6 Assists – 16 Points in 14 games
London was just eliminated by Warren Foegele and the Erie Otters (more on that below), but there is no way London pushes this series to 7 games without Kuokkanen. He carried London’s offense throughout the playoffs, finishing with three more goals and four more points than the 2nd highest Knight. He was also a finalist for OHL Player of the Week.
Breaking News: As I’m posting this, the Checkers have added Kuokkanen to the playoff roster. I believe he’s still CHL-bound next year, but as London is done, Kuokkanen will get a couple of weeks in Charlotte. If he plays, he could provide a nice jolt to the Checkers offense
2. Steven Lorentz – Peterborough Petes (Last week #1)
8 Goals – 4 Assists – 12 Points in 8 games.
The Petes finished off their sweep of Jeremy Helvig’s Kingston team, and Lorentz scored two goals to pace the team. The sole reason he fell a spot was because Kuokkanen was seemingly scoring all by himself, while Lorentz is getting plenty of help from his teammates, but he’s still the Petes’ playoff scoring leader. Hey Ron, can we get this guy an ELC stat? I would love to see him push for a spot in Charlotte.
3. Spencer Smallman – Saint John Sea Dogs (Last week #4)
8 Goals – 3 Assists – 11 points in 8 games
What can you do, if you’re Spencer Smallman? You go out, score a hat trick and still only make it to #3 on these meaningless power rankings. Smallman leads the Sea Dogs with 8 goals, but is still amazingly fourth on the team in scoring. He is the Captain of one of the leading contenders for this year’s Memorial Cup, and one of several Canes prospects that are on fire this playoff season.
4. Warren Foegele – Erie Otters (Last week #6)
4 Goals – 7 Assists – 11 Points in 11 games
Foegele gets this week’s biggest bump in the power rankings, and probably should be ranked higher. Playing on the Erie Otters offensive juggernaught, it was Foegele who scored the game-winner in overtime of game 7 against pesky Janne Kuokkanen and the London Knights. He also added an assist as he upped the Canes PPG prospect total to 5, but it’s that clutch Game 7 performance by Foegele that really leads me to believe that he will be a crucial addition for the Hurricanes a couple years down the road.
5. Nicolas Roy – Chicoutimi Saguenéens (Last week #2)
6 Goals – 7 Assists – 13 Points in 11 games
Nicolas Roy did not have a good week. He had a lone assist in two games for the Sagueneens. Luckily, Roy and Friends finished off Rouyn-Noranda in 7 games, so Roy has plenty of time to get back into his dominant offense-driving ways. He sits second on the Sagueneens in playoff scoring, and will face the challenge of his juniors career facing Smallman, Booth, Gauthier and the Saint John Sea Dogs in the QMJHL semifinals.
6. Callum Booth – Saint John Sea Dogs (Last week #5)
8-0, 1.71 GAA, .900 Sv Pct
Still ho-hum, still seeing only 15 shots a game for Callum Booth. He has been doing exactly what is expected of him for this dominant Sea Dogs team, but he will also have had a week off when they meet Nicolas Roy’s Chicoutimi team. We’ll see if he’s at all rusty after the long break, as this series will go a long way to show how far Booth is in his goaltending progression.
7. Julien Gauthier—Saint John Sea Dogs (Last week #10)
4 Goals – 2 Assists – 6 Points in 8 games
It’s actually a funny story (and shout out to ctcaniac for bringing this to my attention) but Gauthier had a goal and two assists in the game following last week’s power rankings. Now I’m not saying that the pressure of a lowly Hurricanes blogger caused him to step his game up a level, but there is a correlation there. Just saying.
8. Noah Carroll – Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds (Last week #9)
0 Goals – 2 Assists – 2 Points in 11 games
His team is still in the playoffs, and he didn’t score any more points. Yay, he’s a serviceable Canadian juniors defenseman….
9. Jeremy Helvig – Kingston Frontenacs (Last week #8)
4-7, 2.90 GAA, .892 Sv Pct
Helvig played every single game in net for the Frontenacs this playoff season, but they ran head-long into Lorentz’ red hot Peterborough team. He had the lowest save percentage of the 7 playoff goalies who have played 8 games or more. It is safe to say that this is not going to be the shining moment of Helvig’s career.
If you missed it and want to catch up on Hurricanes prospect heroics from last week, you can find last week’s playoff update HERE.
On the Horizon: A Crazy Competitive Carolina Camp
All I kept thinking as I updated this column was “Wow, competition for ice time in Charlotte is going to be intense next year.” Smallman, Foegele, Roy, Gauthier, Booth and Lorentz (ELC permitting) will all be eligible to make the jump next year. I would expect some of these folks, especially Booth, to likely see some ECHL time, but let’s be honest, nobody wants to play there. If the cliché ‘competition breeds excellence’ holds true in the slightest, the Charlotte Checkers, much like the parent club, are in for some dynamic, exciting teams in the next couple years. In any case, prospect and training camps are shaping up to potentially be some very entertaining affairs. Until next week, Canes Nation!