Yesterday, I had the opportunity to interview Tony MacDonald, Director of Amateur Scouting for the Carolina Hurricanes. MacDonald has been working for the organization for 16 years now, but this is the third year that he will be the club's point person for the NHL Entry Draft and the man primarily responsible for ensuring that the Hurricanes make the most of their draft picks.
Obviously, MacDonald travels extensively and he estimated that he watches over 200 hockey games a year located all over North America and Europe. In this exclusive Canes Country interview, we touched upon a variety of subjects starting off with an update about last season's draft picks and a couple of other prospects with unresolved status.
I did not ask MacDonald about the first two picks from last year because as we all know, first rounder Philippe Paradis was traded to Toronto for Jiri Tlusty, a Czech native who was just signed by Jim Rutherford to a one year, one-way contract.
Second rounder Brian Dumoulin had a tremendous freshman year for the NCAA Champion Boston College Eagles and he looks like a very promising prospect.
But what about the other selections from last year?
Third round pick Mattias Lindstrom was injured all last season and was only able to play in one game. MacDonald said that he developed a knee injury during a preseason workout and tried to make an early comeback, but pushed himself too soon and re-injured himself.
"Mattias was injured, it was fixed, he rehabbed, well he actually rehabbed twice. He tried to come back, but could not play. He has recovered now and we expect him to attend conditioning camp in July when we will get an update on his condition. As far as we know right now, he should be healthy and ready to play this season and he's looking forward to that."
(The Canes next pick, fifth rounder Matt Kennedy, was recently signed to a two-way deal and it is expected he will play in Charlotte this coming season.)
Next, I asked MacDonald about Carolina's final two selections, (who both happen to be from Finland), defensemen Rasmus Rissanen and Tommi Kivisto.
"Rasmus will be playing on the rookie team in the fall and will participate in the Traverse City Tournament. He had a very good year in Everett, although his team lost in their division finals. But he played very well and we are very happy with his progress. We're looking forward to seeing him in July at conditioning camp."
"Kivisto played 22 games in the Finnish Elite League with Jokerit last year and the rest of his games he played with the National Junior Team. He had a reasonably good year and we still think he is a pretty good prospect. He's a big strong kid and we also look forward to seeing him at conditioning camp in July, and possibly on the rookie team in September. He is currently under contract with Jokerit and we need to make sure there are no problems concerning that. If there are no conflicts, then we will have him on the rookie team this fall as well."
Samuel Morneau, a 2008 draft pick who had 30 goals and 32 assists in the QMJHL this past season, needs a contract to remain Hurricanes property, so I asked MacDonald if he would be signed.
"We're not going to sign Sam at this time. We wanted to take a look at him in Albany near the end of the season, but he was injured and did not make the trip, so our AHL coaches could not evaluate him. If he is not signed by July 1, he can re-enter the draft. We are going to allow him to do that at this point."
Justin Krueger, who played at Cornell for four years and was a participant in this summer's World Championships for Team Germany, was drafted by the Hurricanes in 2006. The Canes will lose their rights to him if he is not signed by August 1. I also asked MacDonald about his status.
"Justin Krueger had a very good year at Cornell and had a very strong tournament. He played extremely well for the German National Team. We like Justin Krueger and we'd like to bring him into the fold, so that is an ongoing negotiation at this point in time."
(Next up, MacDonald gives us an inside look at the draft combines and answers some general questions about the upcoming draft.)