Does Carolina Maximize Draft Picks?

Bruce Bennett

The Canes drafted a league low four players on Sunday. Due to trades, the club has drafted fewer players than any other team in league since 2001.

Another draft has come and gone and as always, fans of the Carolina Hurricanes debate over how well or how poorly the team did this time around.

There is little disagreement about the choice of Elias Lindholm, who seems to be a fine selection.

But after trading a current first round pick, former first round pick, and a former second round pick just the year before, the Hurricanes traded yet another second rounder this year in a deal for a top four defenseman. This, in a year which the team had been advertising the draft as being very "deep", with blue chip players available right through the second round.

The deal all by itself probably would not cause much heart burn, but after losing so many assets just the year before, the strategy of trading yet another valuable asset is questionable to some.

Carolina's prospects are already lowly rated by many publications as well as experts, and failed last season when called upon after the team was hurt badly by injuries. How does a franchise rebuild and strengthen their prospect system and depth? It would seem most likely through the draft.

Since 2001, the Canes have drafted fewer players than any team in the NHL. This past Sunday, they followed that up by drafting a league low four more players, (tied with St. Louis who also drafted four players).

Why just four players?

They had already traded the fourth round choice in the deal which sent Anthony Stewart to Los Angeles for Kevin Westgarth. The Kings also got next year's sixth round pick as well.

Let's take a closer look at that deal.

Stewart was at one time a highly regarded prospect himself and was the 25th overall pick in the famous 2003 draft. The Canes signed him to a two-year deal, but after year one, decided they needed to move him along reportedly because of poor conditioning.

Westgarth was never drafted and has scored three career NHL goals. The forward plays few minutes and sits most games. He is obviously not worth two draft picks, but since Stewart was over-paid, the Canes had to over-compensate the Kings to make that deal.

Enter 2013, as the Canes had to do the same in order to move along Jamie McBain.

The seventh round pick from this year was sent to Tampa Bay when Carolina acquired Marc-Andre Bergeron. Adam Hall was also included in the deal, someone the Canes picked up on the waiver wire.

So the team ended up trading away the second, fourth, and seventh round picks for this year's draft.

Some will argue that the team has a poor track record with draft picks and they are not able to develop players properly anyway. Still, drafting is a numbers game and the more players you draft, the better your odds are of getting lucky and finding someone who can crack the roster.

Too often, the team seems to have thrown draft picks into deals, to make up for bad contracts or to save money.

Most fans feel that the trading of Jamie McBain is addition by subtraction. But the Hurricanes could have bought out McBain's contract and then possibly made that deal with Buffalo, while receiving Buffalo's third round pick, or even a later one. The Sabres drafted 11 players, they had plenty to deal.

McBain's contract was too high for his value, which brought negative equity into the trade, the same as Stewart's last year.

The Hurricanes have a promising roster with a lot of fire power, but what if there are injuries again this coming season? Will the blueline be injury free? And what about the goalie situation?

The best goalie prospects were all taken in the second round on Sunday.

The team has not made the playoffs in four seasons, perhaps a different strategy regarding the utilization of draft picks is in order?

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