Carolina Hurricanes, like other teams, trying to find a ‘home run’ in 2022 NHL Draft

·6 min read

It has been 10 years since the Carolina Hurricanes upstaged the NHL draft in Pittsburgh by trading for Penguins center Jordan Staal.

The arena was rumbling the first night of the 2012 draft when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced the Canes had dealt center Brandon Sutter, defensive prospect Brian Dumoulin and their first-round pick to the Pens for Staal, then just 23 years old and a Stanley Cup winner. It was a blockbuster trade.

The venue was mostly empty and things more sedate the second day when the seven-round draft was completed. All but overlooked was the Canes selecting another defensive prospect, Jaccob Slavin, in the fourth round.

The kicker: Slavin wasn’t the first defenseman taken by the Canes in the fourth round. Trevor Carrick was chosen with the 115th overall pick, with Slavin at No. 120.

That underscores what many have said about the NHL draft through the years: that it can be a crapshoot, especially in the middle rounds, and that there’s value to be found throughout the draft. There might even be a “home run” in the mix.

The top guys in the draft, everyone has a good handle on — Shane Wright this year, for example. The Montreal Canadiens will have the first overall pick Thursday when the draft begins at Montreal’s Bell Centre, and Wright, the Kingston Frontenacs forward, could be their guy.

The Hurricanes do not have a first-round pick this year, but head to Montreal with eight selections in the last six rounds. Their first pick: 60th overall in the second round.

How deep is this year’s draft pool? That answer may not come for a few years.

“When people ask that question, they talk about the top five, 10, 15 picks,” said Canes assistant general manager Darren Yorke, the team’s director of amateur scouting. “I think over the years those would have different depth in terms of higher-end players, whether or not you have generational talent. I don’t know if this year’s draft is going to be as talented as next year, where you could have multiple generational players.

“I think as a whole most drafts end up being the same because you’re talking about one or two players difference in the mid-rounds. That’s hard for anyone right now to say which one of these drafts over the last couple of years is going to have maybe one more seventh-rounder or one more sixth-rounder who turns into the substantial player.”

Take the 205th pick, which the Canes have this year. In 2003, the San Jose Sharks took Joe Pavelski at No. 205 in the seventh round. The Dallas Stars forward has 924 NHL points.

The Slavin pick by the Canes turned out to be a home run. Only 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds in 2012, with a big mop of hair, the Denver native then was on his way to play for Colorado College. Now 6-3 and 207 pounds, he’s one of the NHL’s best on the blue line, a former All-Star and an alternate captain for the Hurricanes who has played more than 500 games in seven seasons.

“He plays the right way and does it at a high level,” Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour said during the 2022 playoffs.

Carrick, meanwhile, has played seven NHL games. Calle Andersson, a Swedish defenseman taken by the New York Rangers just ahead of Slavin in 2012, has not played in the NHL.

“In the late to middle rounds, beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” Yorke said.

The Canes have had some misses — mid-round and in other rounds. In 2009, they viewed Philippe Paradis as a forward with size and a hard, heavy shot and took him in the first round, 27th overall. He, too, has never been in an NHL game.

A year ago, the Canes decided to trade their first-round pick to Nashville for a pair of second-rounders, moving down in the draft. Their first pick was 40th, when they took defenseman Scott Morrow out of Shattuck St. Mary’s Prep in Minnesota, where he decided to stay for an extra year rather than getting in a season in the USHL.

Scott Morrow (23) of the University of Massachusetts patrols the low slot in front of his goaltender in action earlier this season. Morrow is among 10 Hurricanes prospects playing in this year’s IIHF World Junior Championships.
Scott Morrow (23) of the University of Massachusetts patrols the low slot in front of his goaltender in action earlier this season. Morrow is among 10 Hurricanes prospects playing in this year’s IIHF World Junior Championships.

“I try to be offensive but I think I’m a 200-foot player and I play to win,” Morrow told the media on his draft day, also noting he admired the “track record” the Canes had in developing defensemen.

Morrow, in his first year at UMass, was the second highest draft selection in program history — behind defenseman Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche.

Morrow ranked first among Hockey East defensemen this past season in points with 33, with 13 goals and 20 assists in 37 games. Listed at 6-2 and 192 pounds, the right-shot D-man was named to the Hockey East’s All-Star First Team.

Morrow, from Darien, Connecticut, was named to Team USA for the 2022 World Junior Championship, which was postponed because of the pandemic and will be played in August in Edmonton.

“Coming from high school hockey to college hockey is such a huge jump,” Yorke said. “But Scott has really answered every question about him and continued to develop.”

That’s what the Hurricanes are looking for with each draft selection, regardless of the round or number: development and improvement. Then, in a few years, they’ll know how much value they brought.

How to watch the NHL draft

Watch: Round 1 on Thursday on ESPN and ESPN+

Watch: Rounds 2-7 on Friday on NHL Network and ESPN+

Hurricanes picks at 2022 NHL Draft

Selections

First round — none

Second round — No. 60

Third round — No. 71 (from Blackhawks)

Fourth round — No. 124

Fifth round — No. 156

Sixth round — Nos. 171 (from Ducks), 188

Seventh round — Nos. 205 (from Blue Jackets), 220.

Hurricanes value picks in the draft

2015 — Forward Sebastian Aho, second round, No. 35. Thirty-one teams including the Canes passed on the Finn in the first round. The Canes didn’t pass in the second.

2015 — Forward Steven Lorentz, seventh round, No. 186. What are the odds of seventh-rounders playing more than 100 NHL games? Lorentz has.

2013 — Defenseman Brett Pesce, third round, No. 66. Some call him underrated but not the Canes. A fixture on the blue line.

2012 — Defenseman Jaccob Slavin, fourth round, No. 120. Former NHL All-Star and Canes’ best D-man.

1998 — Forward Erik Cole, third round, No. 71. Hard-charging winger played almost 900 games in his career, 557 in nine seasons with Canes.

Hurricanes low-value picks in draft history

2009 — Forward Philippe Paradis, first round, No. 27. Canes traded him to Toronto a few months after drafting him. Has never played in the NHL.

2000 — Tomas Kurka, second round, No. 32. The Czech winger played 17 games for Carolina but spent most of his career in Europe.

1999 — Forward Brett Lysak, second round, No. 49. A big scorer in junior hockey, he played two NHL games, both with the Canes.

1998 — Forward Jeff Heerema, first round, No. 11. The Thunder Bay, Ontario native, a cousin of the Staal brothers, played 10 games for Carolina.

1997 — Defenseman Nikos Tselios, first round, No. 22. Has distinction of being Hurricanes’ first draft pick. Played two games and spent most of career in minors.

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