The Carolina Hurricanes made Philippe Paradis the 27th overall pick Friday night at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, raising some eyebrows and leaving many fans saying, "Who?' But Paradis, a big forward with the QMJHL's Shawinigan Cataractes, caught the Canes eye and was one of the surprise picks of Round 1.
It was the first time the franchise had chosen a player from the QMJHL in the first round since moving to Raleigh, but this proved to be a weekend where you could throw out the trends normally associated with Carolina drafts and expect the unexpected. In that sense, GM Jim Rutherford and his staff didn't disappoint.
The past three drafts, the Hurricanes had selected just two European-born players — defensemen Justin Krueger (2006) and Michal Jordan (2008) — and both were already playing hockey in North America and had ties to the organization. Saturday, Carolina chose two Finns and one Swede, and only seventh-rounder d-man Tommi Kivisto — who is from Hurricanes forward Tuomo Ruutu's hometown of Vantaa, Finland — currently plays on this side of the Atlantic, suiting up this past season with Red Deer of the WHL. The other two both play in their home countries: third-round pick Mattias Lindstrom plays in Sweden, while stay-at-home defenseman Rasmus Rissanen is in Finland.
Fifth-rounder Matt Kennedy was more of a traditional Carolina choice. The Guelph (OHL) winger was the Storm's captain this season and notched 33 goals in 2008-09, nearly double what he scored a year earlier and more than he managed in his first three OHL seasons combined. At 20 years old, Kennedy could conceivably join the Albany River Rats next season — as a player who went undrafted his first two time through the draft, Kennedy was able to sign a free agent contract with the AHL's Syracuse Crunch at the tail end of last season, playing four games and scoring a goal.
As expected, Carolina addressed their need for quality depth on the back end, using their second round pick on U.S.-born blueliner Brian Dumoulin. Dumoulin, still just 17, will attend Boston College in the fall. Expect Dumoulin to take some time: not only was he among the youngest draft-eligible players, but defensemen generally need more development time before turning pro.
While this draft in no way mirrored the Hurricanes' past few drafts, it did come through on Rutherford's promise of adding more size to the talent pool. Every player was at least 6-1 and 185 pounds, with mammoth Lindstrom checking in at 6-4, 203. No wonder ISS called him "a monster around the puck" and "a huge truck on wheels" who is reminiscent of Detroit's Tomas Holmstrom.
It's early to grade the Canes on this year's draft, but there' no denying it was a "big" one.