In case you missed it, part 1 of 2 with ‘what I’m watching’ for the 2017 draftees is HERE.
Part 2 will offer the same for the returning players. This set has a bit more meat and depth to it since they are players whose history and development we know more about and whom we have seen in Raleigh during prospect camp and/or training camp already.
In addition, links are included for the players’ ‘Back to School’ articles from last fall to provide an idea of where they were this time last season, and links are also provided for the players’ ‘Midterms’ check ins toward the end of the 2016-17 season.
Jack Bean (First round in 2016, Calgary Hitmen/WHL)
Put bluntly, now another year older, I would like to see Jake Bean stand out at this prospect camp. Now a year older and with top of the team draft pedigree, he should be one of the best players in camp. And despite the fact that his game is the cerebral variety and not that of a physically dominant player, he should still be able to rise above the crowd this week.
Noah Carroll (Sixth round in 2016, Sault Ste. Marie/OHL)
I was high on Noah Carroll after seeing him at the 2016 prospect camp. I thought he stood out in terms of his ability to play with the puck on his stick in his own zone and make correct reads for how best to push the puck forward either skating, making a quick outlet pass or playing the puck to a place where a team mate could win it. By my estimation, he followed prospect camp up with similar against real competition in the Traverse City tourney. But after a somewhat disappointing 2015-16 season that made him available in the sixth round, his 2016-17 season was also ‘meh.’ So that leaves me entering the 2017 prospect camp trying to reconcile a favorable first impression that I had of his play with regular season development that has been less positive. I will be watching to see if he still looks like the puck-moving defenseman that I saw last summer.
David Cotton (Sixth round in 2015, Boston College/NCAA)
As a sixth-round pick, Cotton is a long shot to make an NHL roster. Among a forward prospect pool that is becoming deeper by the year, I will be watching David Cotton to see if he can stand out and show that there is a role for him in this group. He is another from a list of mid/late round forwards with good size, so the name of the game is showing some chemistry, hockey smarts and finishing offensively to go with a willingness and ability to play a power forward game around the net and on the forecheck.
Hudson Elynuik (Third round in 2016, Spokane/WHL)
Hudson Elynuik was drafted at least partly for his NHL size and family pedigree. But he looked very raw in his first prospect camp in 2016. I will be watching this week to see if his game matured during the 2016-17 season. More specifically, in scrimmages and scrimmage type drills, I will be watching to see if he has improved at using his size to his advantage and also how well he reads situations and assignments.
Matt Filipe (Third round in 2016, Northeastern University/NCAA)
With the Hurricanes prospect pool becoming deeper in terms of playmaking/puck distributing type centers, I will be watching Filipe and a few of the other forwards to see which, if any, have a knack for goal scoring. Though not selected as high as Julien Gauthier, Filipe has an interesting blend of skills in this regard. He played the role of a power forward in his rookie season at Northeastern, but Filipe should not be mistaken for a slow-footed power forward whose game is only to park in front of the net. He skates well enough to attack off the rush too. I will be watching this week to see if he has the right combination of hockey sense, speed and finishing ability to benefit from what a center like Kuokkanen or Luostarinen can create.
Warren Foegele (Third round in 2014, Kingston=>Erie/OHL)
As the last prospect to receive and sign a contract offer from the 2014 draft class, Foegele will be a four-year veteran and gray beard for this group. Based on his experience and also his strong 2016-17 season, I would expect Foegele to be both a leader and one of the best players in this group. As such, especially with his high-energy style of play, I am looking for Foegele to be one of the players who sets the tone. And I am also looking for him to be one of the best forwards this week and show that he is level above the mostly 18-19-year old prospect pool as he readies to be a dark horse candidate to win an NHL roster slot in the fall.
Julien Gauthier (First round in 2016, Val-d’Or=>Saint John/QMJHL)
Gauthier arrived in Raleigh last summer with much fanfare. He projected to be the power forward and scorer that the Hurricanes needed. And during the 2016 prospect camp, he put forward his fair share of power forward plays that validated the fanfare. But in between big plays, his game was less advanced, and he tended to disappear in between big offensive plays. So this week, I will be watching Gauthier closely to see if has made progress in terms of finding a way to use his size to be a difference-maker every shift even if he does not find his way to a scoring chance.
Janne Kuokkanen (Second round in 2016, London/OHL)
Kuokkanen impressed me last summer with his comfort level pushing pace right into the teeth of defenders on the rush. He had a natural tendency to force the issue up the ice in straight lines even if there was no real opening. That style of play from the center position fits well with how Peters wants to play. At his second prospect camp, I will be watching to see if Kuokkanen has matured a bit physically in terms of strength and straight line speed and also to see if he can show a knack for playmaking from the center position. With the 2017 NHL draft, the Hurricanes’ prospect pool is now deeper at the center position, but Kuokkanen could still be the closest to NHL-ready.
Steven Lorentz (Seventh round in 2015, Peterborough/OHL)
As a seventh round pick, Lorentz started as a long shot to receive an NHL contract, but he did so. At the NHL level, he figures to be a shutdown or two-way forward. Prospect camp will be a good chance to measure how far along he is in reaching that level. This week I will be watching Lorentz to assess his development physically in terms of skating and strength. In addition, I will be watching to see how he looks as a two-way forward competing against a higher caliber of competition than the juniors competition that he excelled against during the 2016-17 season.
Nicolas Roy (Fourth round in 2015, Chicoutimi/QMJHL)
Roy is another like Foegele. Playing in his third prospect camp following a strong 2016-17 campaign, Roy is a player who should stand out and rise to the top in this group of younger players. This week I will be watching Roy to see if he has continued to improve his skating which was a minus in his draft year. I will also be looking for and expecting him to be one of the best players on the ice in scrimmages and similar drills.
Spencer Smallman (Fifth round in 2015, Saint John/QMJHL)
Smallman maybe defied the odds by making the transition from junior hockey to a contract and the AHL as a fifth-round pick. The next step for him is to start to build an identity as a type of player who can fill an NHL role. Smallman does have some scoring ability but probably figures to be a depth forward at the NHL level. Aiming first for that solid milestone, I will be watching Smallman to see if he can be a solid two-way center especially in situations where he gets matched up against some of the Hurricanes’ better offensive-leaning forwards like Kuokkanen, Roy, Gauthier, etc.
Luke Stevens (Fifth round in 2015, Yale University/NCAA)
Luke Stevens is a prototypical power forward bringing a net front presence and ability to score around the net. The challenge for him is boosting his skating ability and speed and also his finishing ability. This week, I will be watching Stevens to see if he use his strength around the net to help create offense and equally importantly to see if he can match the pace when the game runs the full 200 feet of the rink.
Max Zimmer (Fourth round in 2016, University of Wisconsin/NCAA)
The starting point for Zimmer’s game is NHL-caliber speed. On the low end, Zimmer’s speed is a great starting point for becoming a solid checking line forward. But during the Hurricanes prospect camp, I will be watching Zimmer to see if he can convert his speed into scoring chances and convert them. Can he find the right lanes off the rush to receive and shoot when two or three wide at the offensive blue line? Can he find seams in the neutral zone to receive stretch passes for scoring chances? Etc.
If I get a chance, I will try to write up similar for the goalies, though I find it incredibly challenging to get more than general perceptions for goalies as they face a barrage of odd man rushes in drills aimed at emphasizing skating, passing and shooting.
What say you Caniacs?
Which prospect camp returnees are you most looking forward to seeing this week?
Which of these players do you expect to compete for an NHL roster slot in September?