Continuing our look at the individual performances from the Carolina Hurricanes players last season, we move onto one of the team's more impressive call-ups from Charlotte, Drayson Bowman. There were some people, myself included, who thought that Bowman had a decent shot to make the Hurricanes out of camp but he would start the season in Charlotte and was eventually called up in November. After not making much of an impression in his first call-up, Bowman would get another shot in mid-December where he was immediately given top-six minutes and had an impressive two goal performance against the Vancouver Canucks.
Bowman would go the next 22 games without scoring a goal and spent most of the month of January in the AHL but he did a lot of good things away from the puck and was impressive enough for the coaching staff to play him in 37 games while giving him top-nine minutes. He settled into a third line role with Brandon Sutter toward the end of the year and made a strong case to be on the Hurricanes to start next season. Similar things were said about him at the end of last season, but he appears to have found a role on this team and the fact that he scored a little bit should help, as well.
After the jump, we will review the ups and downs of Bowman's season and discuss whether or not he will find a permanent spot on the Hurricanes next season.
The Good: Even though Bowman was not scoring much, he gave the Hurricanes exactly what they needed which was players who could push the puck into the opponent's end and keep it there. The Canes were outshooting their opponents 29.8 to 28.6 at 5-on-5 when Bowman was on the ice and he also had one of the strongest corsi relative ratings on the team. Puck possession and is something that the Hurricanes struggled with all season and Bowman helped a lot in that area during his time in Carolina.
Bowman was also one of the team's better players in terms of controlling scoring chances as the Canes were controlling 52.8% of the even strength chances with Bowman on the ice, which was the second highest ratio on the team. To make things even better, he wasn't giving up a lot at the other end, either. It shows that Bowman was definitely getting his opportunities and was a solid contributor in areas that may have not shown up on the scoresheet. Bowman was also averaging 1.8 shots per game with the Hurricanes.
The Bad: The biggest issue with Bowman was that he didn't score much at all at the pro level. He went all of 2010-11 without a goal and had only six goals in 37 games this year. For a call-up, that isn't bad at all but I think people were expecting a little more from him. His scoring looks a little worse when you consider that four of his six goals came in two games and he had long stretches where he didn't score at all. Now, this isn't completely out of his control because he had 35 shots on goal in those 22 games and was creating plenty of chances, he just couldn't seem to finish them.
This isn't to say that all of Bowman's scoring troubles can be traced to bad luck, but I it is fair to say that the had a good amount of bounces that didn't go his way. It is also tough to judge Bowman's overall potential and future because he played only 37 games this season, which is big enough of a sample size to say that he had a positive impact on the team but too small to make predictions about his future performance.
The Money: Bowman is in the final year of his entry-level contract which has a cap hit of $845,833 after factoring in performance bonuses. He is set to become an RFA in July but the Hurricanes have the option to qualify him before that and it shouldn't be too hard for them to keep him around. GM Jim Rutherford has been impressed with Bowman's performance this season so it is hard to imagine that he will let him walk in a couple months.
As for Bowman's value, he wasn't exactly a huge bargain but he was only on an entry-level deal so money isn't a huge concern with him at the moment. I am interested to see what kind of deal he gets this off-season but it probably will not be anything above what he made this season.
The Final Word: Is Bowman a top-six player or a third liner? It is looking more like the latter now, but he showed this year that he can at least be a solid contributor at the NHL level and has a very good chance of making the team next season. One thing that is a little concerning is whether or not Bowman can hold his ground against the tough competition that comes with playing on the third line & Brandon Sutter. He did a decent job this season, but can he do it over 82 games? That is a good question.
The Vote: What grade would you give Bowman on the season? Give him an A if he surpassed your expectations, a C if he met them or an F if he completely let you down. Were you impressed with what you saw from Bowman this season, or were you expecting him to score more. What role do you see Bowman playing on the Canes in the long-run? Tell us in the comments.