May 07, 2018

PROSPECT REPORT: Svechnikov or Zadina – tough choice awaits the Hurricanes

TOUGH CHOICE. The Carolina Hurricanes must choose between two immensely talented forwards in Andrei Svechnikov and Filip Zadina. Photo: Bildbyrån

The Carolina Hurricanes faithful may soon see the fortunes of their beleaguered franchise shift after the Canes exited the April 28th NHL draft lottery with the second overall pick.

With just a 3,3% chance of snagging the second pick, the Raleigh-based franchise beat the odds by jumping up ten spots and came out looking like the biggest winner of the draft – so far at least. Now the pressure is on new majority owner Tom Dundon and whoever he installs as the Hurricanes’ general manager to figure out who they will select once Swedish superstar Rasmus Dahlin is off the board.

They have three options; select Andrei Svechnikov and ride off into the sunset, select Filip Zadina and ride off into the sunset or go off the board. Well, four options. They could trade the pick. That’s not happening though. So, without further ado, let us take a look at the Carolina Hurricanes prospect situation before they select their next franchise superstar.

TOP PROSPECTS

5. Nicolas Roy, C/RW, Charlotte Checkers (AHL)
A late pick for the ‘Canes back in 2015, Roy has seen slow but steady development in the years since. He spent two seasons post-draft honing his skills with Chicoutimi Saguenéens of the QMJHL before making the jump to the AHL this season, scoring 38 points in 70 games. A powerful center with size and reach aplenty, Roy looks like he’ll able to play a 2
nd or 3rd line role for Carolina quite soon.

4. Julien Gauthier, RW, Charlotte Checkers (AHL)
This late 97-born right winger was a first-round pick for Carolina back in 2016 (21
st overall). Like Nicolas Roy, Gauthier has great size and power and, again like Roy, spent his junior playing days in QMJHL before going pro for the Charlotte Checkers this year. Once he gets adjusted to the pro game, the sky is the limit.

3. Janne Kuokkanen, C/W, Charlotte Checkers (AHL)
Younger and smaller in stature than Roy and Gauthier, this Finnish winger was a bit of a dark horse coming into the season. 62 points (26 goals) in 60 games for London Knights in the OHL is certainly nothing to sneeze at, yet Kuokkanen wasn’t as highly touted as his fellow Canes prospects. With 40 points (11+29) in 60 games, Kuokkanen put up better point totals than both Roy and Gauthier and looks to have carried his strong play into the playoffs where he has three goals in five games thus far.

2. Jake Bean, D, Tri-City Americans (WHL)
The only defenseman on this list (mainly because 21-year old Haydn Fleury was deemed a full-time NHL:er for the purposes of this list), Bean had a terrific playoff run recently for the Tri-City Americans in the WHL. The Americans made it to the third round before bowing out to Everett Silvertips with Bean supplying 18 points (1+17) in 14 games during the run. Bean also suited up for the championship-winning Team Canada squad in the World Junior Championships. All in all, a solid season for Bean who should be able to join the already young and talented Hurricanes D corps within a season or two.

1. Martin Necas, C/RW, HC Kometa Brno (Czech)
The Canes have a real gem on their hands with this young Czech. Necas was the top selection for the red, white and black in the 2017 draft (12
th overall) and has done nothing but add to the hype ever since. Skating a regular shift for HC Kometa Brno in the Czech top league this past season, Necas scored nine goals and added eight assists for a total of 17 points in 24 games. He did miss some time for Kometa around Christmas… but that was only because he was busy tearing up the WJCs for Team Czech Republic with eleven points (3+8) in seven games. Currently closing out his season skating for the national team in the 2018 Denmark World Championships.


Martin Necas. Photo: Uffe Bodin

ANALYSIS

The Hurricanes have a strong pipeline of forwards and with Bean on the way to enforce a D corps that already includes youngsters Haydn Fleury and Noah Hanifin, defense looks set to become a position of strength for Carolina. Goaltending needs to be looked at in the later rounds of the draft since Cam Ward ain’t getting any younger and Scott Darling didn’t exactly light the world on fire this season. The Canes do have some goaltending prospects like Callum Booth and Alex Nedeljkovic, but neither has turned in Grade-A performances thus far. As for the #2 pick in the entry draft, most would claim Svechnikov is the stronger pick. I’ve argued Zadina’s merits before and will continue to do so, especially for Carolina. Three of their top forward prospects coming up – Roy, Necas and Gauthier – are all right-handed shots most comfortable on the right wing and while both Svechnikov and Zadina shoots left, Svechnikov is a natural RW and Zadina a natural LW. Certainly not THE factor in making the call between the two but should Canes’ management consider both prospects equal, it could become a factor.

VERDICT

Let me get one thing out there: Carolina is going to be an exciting NHL team to follow in the next couple of years.

A defensive unit of Justin FaulkBrett PesceJaccob Slavin, Haydn Fleury, Noah Hanifin and Jake Bean looks tremendously appealing. At the same time, well-needed reinforcements are on their way at forward to help Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teräväinen supply some offense. While I hope to see the electrifying Zadina in a Hurricanes uniform come October, a Svechnikov pick certainly isn’t going to stop me from tuning in to catch the new and improved Canes make their way through the 2018-19 NHL season.

@TheAlphaFuryan

EP PROSPECT REPORT

Buffalo Sabres: Need to win the draft lottery
Arizona Coyotes: Better than they seem
Ottawa Senators: Strong at center, in need of game-changer

Hampus Duvefelt hampus_duvefelt@live.se
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