Here is a look at Carolina’s organizational needs and possible draft targets:
The Hurricanes franchise may never have a more pivotal calendar year than June 30, 2016 to June 30 2017 when it comes to building a strong farm system as the club will have selected a dozen prospects in the top 75 of the draft. Last year, the club added prospects at all positions in the top three rounds, including yet another solid defence prospect Jake Bean with the 13th overall pick.
This year Carolina is not expected to look at defence at the top of the draft as with the emergence of Brett Pesce and Jacob Slavin and the recent draft of several high-end defensive prospects the Canes are absolutely loaded with talented defencemen under the age of 24 that is perhaps only rivaled by the Anaheim Ducks.
Luckily for the Hurricanes, the prospects ranked between 5 and 15 on Recrutes draft list are all forwards, and it’s quite likely that Carolina will end up with a forward ranked in their top ten. This draft should offer GM Ron Francis an opportunity to not only add plenty of depth to an already loaded prospect cupboard, but at least one forward with top-six upside, and perhaps even first-line abilities, be it a winger or a centerman.
If Casey Mittelstadt spirals on draft day he may be a reasonable target for Carolina at 12, but if he has indeed fallen out of favour in the scouting community as sharply as I suspect there are no guarantees he would be the Hurricanes’ selection. Other forwards who would be in the discussion if available at 12 would be Nick Suzuki, Robert Thomas, Owen Tippet, Elias Pettersson and Martin Necas, and in this draft where there is no consensus after the top seven, odds are decent that they’ll get a player ranked in their top eight at 12th overall.
Carolina has three picks in the second-round and should be able to add some more players who can one day compete for top-six and top-nine forward positions. At 42, some of the forwards who may still be on the board include Kole Lind, Alex Formenton, Aleski Heponiemi, Maxime Comtois, Grant Mismash and Nikita Popugaev. If the Hurricanes are looking for a playmakers with decent size but average speed Lind is a good bet, if they’d like to add a speedster with good size but questionable offensive ceiling Formenton fits the bill.
Mismash and Comtois are nice additions if the club wants to add a versatile two-way forward Comtois with skating concerns), and Popugaev might be their man if they are willing to take a flyer on a big skilled winger who went from decent prospect to a no-show for much of the second half who had character, skating and competitiveness issues. Matthew Strome is really scaring scouts because of his decided lack of skating speed, and he may well be on the board at 42…perhaps the Hurricanes take the big winger and hope his skating can eventually come around.
If any of the forwards listed above are still on the board at 52 they should get strong consideration from Carolina, as will Zach Gallant, Mackenzie Entwistle, Alex Lipanov and perhaps Ostap Safin and Adam Ruzicka if the club wants to take a gamble on a talented but inconsistent European forward seeing that they have four picks between 42 and 65 and can afford to take a risky pick who, if all work out, would be a boom prospect.
The Hurricanes have spent three relatively picks on goalie prospect in recent years, but none of them are surefire NHLers, and given that they have another ten picks this draft they will likely draft at least one more netminder, perhaps with one of the late second- or early third-round picks, depending on which ones are left and whether the svouting staff thinhs there is a potential starter still on the board at that point.