The dust has settled and Carolina Hurricanes management claims to be very happy with the outcome of this year's draft. While it might be difficult to argue whether or not they were successful following their "best player available" philosophy, were they able to solve some team needs along the way?
Unlike last year when the Hurricanes saw immediate results from the 2010 draft as Jeff Skinner made his presence known from day one, it usually takes years to find out how successful a draft can be. But we can look at a few things and make some evaluations based upon what we think we know about these players at the present time.
Did the smallest and lightest franchise in the league get any bigger? Did they take steps to improve an inconsistent and sometimes lackluster powerplay? Does it look like team defense will improve in the future?
Let's take a closer look at the results of this draft to see how these players might fit in and solve, (or not solve), team needs. We will then ask our readers to give a grade of how they feel about the results.
Round 1, 12th overall: Ryan Murphy There is no question the Hurricanes got the best talent available to them with this pick. They had him at number six and every scouting service or mock draft out there had him in the top 10. To have him fall into the 12th spot was a gift of sorts, but the primary question I have is if he will fit with the team's defensive philosophy or system?
To truly benefit from Murphy's skills, he needs to have free reign of sorts. He's most effective in a "wide open" game but the Hurricanes sometimes prefer to sit back a bit, and allow their opponent to come to them. It will be interesting to see if there will be a clash of wills because from all reports, Murphy is not a "sit back" type of player.
One thing for certain, the powerplay will be better with him on the ice and that is a huge coup. He's got a great shot and he's not shy about using it. The blueliner also has tremendous vision and playmaking abilities.
By adding him the club didn't get any bigger, but there is more than one way to skin a cat, so to speak. If he can move the puck or skate it out of harm's way when he needs to, that ability alone can more than out-weigh any lack of size issue.
Cam Fowler Part Deux?
The fact that Murphy slipped to number twelve reminds many of what happened with Cam Fowler last year.
Fowler was rated by most scouts as one of the most talented defensemen in the draft and he was projected by most to go in the top five, but somehow he slipped to the Ducks at number 12. The blueliner went on to have a very solid rookie year playing for Anaheim. (GP76 G10 A30 P40 +/- -25).
During a subsequent interview, I mentioned to Jim Rutherford that perhaps Murphy will take a similar path as Fowler and surprise some folk next season. "Or maybe he'll do even better," the Carolina GM responded. "He had better numbers in junior."
For the record, here are each player's numbers after their most recent junior seasons.
Fowler - 2009-10 GP55 G8 A47 P55 +/- +38 PIM14 Playoffs GP21 G3 A11 P14
Murphy - 2010-11 GP63 G26 A53 P79 +/- +22 PIM36 Playoffs GP7 G2 A9 P11
It should also be noted that Fowler played on a better overall team in Windsor, the eventual Memorial Cup Champions, but Murphy still put up more points.
Will the rookie be able to make the Hurricanes next season? Don't count him out. If he comes into training camp with some "shock and awe" moves like Skinner did last year, it will be very difficult for the coaching staff to send him back to Kitchener. And he's capable of doing it.
Round 2, 42nd overall: Victor Rask Once again, the Hurricanes selected arguably the best rated talent at the time of their pick. The also highly regarded forward Brandon Saad was still available here, but there were some reports out that the big forward took too many shifts off, and that's why he slipped.
While Rask moved out of some scout's top 10 and top 30 lists because of a perceived attitude issue, the Swede actually wanted the exact opposite, he wanted more playing time. He requested a move from the adult league in Sweden to a junior league, where he eventually saw better results on the stat sheet.
Rask is not the biggest 6'1 in the world, but he's not small either. His scouting reviews were mixed:
ISS: This scouting service predicted him to go at 26 overall and said that he could be a "steal" at that spot. They had him as the second best faceoff guy in the entire draft and the fourth best puckhandler. They gave him excellent grades regarding skating and puck skills. They also claim that he might have gone from being over-hyped to under-rated.
CSS: The CSS had him as the 12th best European skater
Red Line Report: The RLR was less impressed with Rask, although they did admit that there is good potential there. They had him ranked at 47 and had this to say. "One of the season's biggest head-scratchers. Lacks a burst of speed, plays at same pace, never shifts gears. Still, there is a lot to like. Strong on the puck with a wide selection of passes. Good size and strength as he can gain and hold territory around the crease. Works a good cycle and protects puck well. A talented enigma, shows little emotion or passion."
So far, the center has seemed open about where he will play next season and could even end up in Charlotte. At one time, he was rated as one of the best young players in Sweden, so the Hurricanes could have a special player here. Time will tell. But if he could continue to be solid in the faceoff circle, they could benefit from that talent alone.
Round 3, 73rd overall: Keegan Lowe Again at 6'1 to 6'2, the Canes didn't get smaller with Lowe and he even plays bigger than his height. Known as a "rough and tumble" guy, Lowe loves to play a physical style and wants to be known as "someone who is tough to play against."
The ISS rated him at 98 overall but did have him as the 5th best stay-at-home defenseman in the draft. The service said that he "can throw some very good hits on unsuspecting forwards trying to break out."
The Red Line Report had him at 85. They say: "Quietly turning into a very steady, low-key defender. Makes smart plays all over the ice. Good skater and makes good first pass out of zone. If he fills out his big frame, could be a solid shut-down defenseman."
One more thing to note about Lowe. He requested not to be drafted by the Oilers, where is father is a top executive. He wanted to make it on his own.
Round 4, 103rd overall: Gregory Hofmann The Hurricanes took notice of this Swiss player because of his skill and physical nature on the ice. At 6'0, 170, he's a good forechecker who can skate, puckhandle, and score.
The ISS called him the most under-rated player in the draft at number 85 and the Red Line Report had him ranked at 55, so obviously the Canes got excellent value with this pick.
More from the Red Line Report: "Looks very young and is extremely skinny, but relishes the physical nature of the game, often catapulting himself into explosive checks. Will need to bulk up to survive. Shows game-breaking speed with first step explosion and can make east-west moves at top end gear. Very good creativity and offensive instincts. Constantly involved and forces the action. One of the few Swiss players who will mix it up with bigger North American foes. Holds puck an extra second to set up linemates, knowing that he will get blown up. Gets lost on defense and loses track of assignments."
Hofmann did not attend the draft, so we are unaware of what his plans are for next season, but it's expected that he will attend the Hurricanes prospects camp in July.
Round 6, 163rd overall: Matt Mahalak The highest ranked goalie at the time, the Canes filled in some depth at that position and also drafted a player from Plymouth, which seems to be an annual requirement.
The ISS had Mahalak as the 3rd best goalie in the draft while the Red Line Report did not rank him in their top 110, but had him as a "player to watch." He served as the Whalers backup this past season and went 8-8-1-3 with a .908 save percentage. The ISS calls him "technically sound" and "focused".
Round 7, 193rd overall: Brody Sutter As one would expect in the 7th round, Sutter has yet to prove himself to scouts. He went undrafted last year, but he has upside as a project and has good size, (6'4 200). He could be a late-bloomer and will compete for a job in Charlotte next season.
Those are the results of this year's draft. What do you think? Did the Canes hold true to their philosophy? Were they able to address any specific needs of the team? It's your turn to have a voice and grade management's performance.