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A Closer Look At Carolina’s 2015 Draft

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The Carolina Hurricanes used draft weekend to draft nine players, trade for a goalie and ship out another, and shore up their defense with a veteran addition.

Carolina drafted Nicolas Roy 96th overall, one of three QMJHL players Ron Francis selected in the second day of the 2015 NHL Draft.
Carolina drafted Nicolas Roy 96th overall, one of three QMJHL players Ron Francis selected in the second day of the 2015 NHL Draft.
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis took the 2014 NHL Draft in stride. This year? Francis was one of the busiest — and arguably most successful — team architects in Sunrise, Fla.

Here's a bit of a closer look at the moves Francis made — both at the podium and on the floor of BB&T Center — and some of the facts about Carolina’s newest players.

• Tallest Player: Nicolas Roy — At 6'4, the second of Carolina’s two fourth-round picks takes the cake. Overall, Francis went pretty big at this year’s draft — six of the nine draft picks measured 6'2 or taller. Roy, by the way, was the first overall pick in the 2013 QMJHL draft. He was considered first-round material heading into last season, so the potential is there.

• Shortest Player: Sebastian Aho — Aho is the only pick coming in at shorter than 6 feet. The Finnish forward is 5'11.

• Heaviest Player: Noah Hanifin — Carolina’s most noteworthy pick is also it's all-around biggest. At 203 pounds, and 6'2, Hanifin already posses an NHL body.

• Lightest Player: Jake Massie — The first of two six rounders, Massie has some filling out to do. The UMass-bound defender is 6 feet tall, but just 172 pounds.

• That Name Sounds Familar: Yep, Luke Stevens does have hockey in his veins. In fact, it's the blood of former Francis teammate Kevin Stevens, who won two Cups in Pittsburgh with Carolina’s GM. The younger Stevens might not yet have his dad's scoring acumen — Kevin potted 190 goals (!) in a four-year span with the Penguins — but he has size at 6'3 and 192 pounds at 18 years old.

• Snap Judgment Best Value Pick: It's Hanifin, who could step into the Canes lineup in October and be a top-four contributor from the get-go. My gut feeling is that Phoenix and Toronto may have over-thought this one a bit. Hanifin is an absolute star in the making and doesn't have the obvious flaws Strome (skating) and Marner (size) have heading into next fall. Francis & Co. couldn't have asked for a better outcome.

• Snap Judgment Worst Value Pick: Aho came across to me as a bit of a reach. But without a third-round pick — which was dealt the Vancouver in the Eddie Lack trade — the Canes must have not wanted to miss out on the winger.

• Most Confusing Pick: Land Aho! For those who didn't look at the eligible prospects ahead of the draft, they probably didn't know there were TWO Sebastian Ahos in this year’s class: Carolina’s Finnish forward and the Swedish defenseman who went undrafted this year, just like last year.

• Most Surprising Fact I Found Out Today: Fifth-rounder Spencer Smallman fought three times this year, and they were all against guys significantly bigger than him. Hockeyfights.com has fight cards, and Smallman battled three guys who averaged 6'4 1/3 and 210 pounds. Smallman is listed at 6 feet, 184 pounds. This pick reminds me some of 2014 fifth-rounder Clark Bishop — both players play the game the right way and are leaders on the ice.

• The New Carolina Q: No, not barbecue. Q as in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Carolina drafted an unprecedented three players from the QMJHL (Callum Booth, Roy and Smallman), plus Quebec-born Massie, who is headed to the NCAA ranks.

• That’s A Bold Move, Cotton: In Round 6 Carolina took David Cotton, a big forward who is still a year away from playing collegiate hockey. The Hurricanes did the same in 2012 with defenseman Jaccob Slavin, who played another year in the USHL before joining Colorado College. That fourth-round pick has seemingly paid off for Carolina, with Slavin garnering much praise in the NCAA ranks. Cotton will have time on his side in proving the same.

• Second Time’s A Charm: Steven Lorentz was passed over at last year's draft, but perseverance paid off for the Peterborough Petes forward when he was selected with Carolina’s last pick. The Canes did this last year with Lucas Wallmark in the fourth round, and the Swedish pivot rewarded them with a great season in the SHL and a solid performance at the World Juniors.

• There's Goalies In Them There Hills: For the fifth time in six years, Carolina chose at least one goalie at the draft when they took Booth near the top of Round 4. Booth held the No. 1 job in Quebec for most of the season, but the Remparts acquired Montreal’s 2013 second-round pick, Zachary Fucale, to give them a boost for the stretch run and postseason. Fucale went 14-3-3 in the playoffs, but his other numbers weren't better than Booth’s.

• How Swede It is: The first time Lack steps between the pipes for the Hurricanes, he'll hold all the franchise Swedish goaltending records. Neither Carolina nor Hartford has ever played a Swedish-born goalie in a game, and Lack already ranks 11th all-time in wins by a goalie from Sweden with 34. He also has six shutouts in just 82 career appearances, a pace just shy of the greatest Swedish goalie ever, Henrik Lundqvist.

• American High Five: If Hanifin makes the team, the Hurricanes could be playing five American-born defenseman in their top six. The acquisition of Michigan-born James Wisniewski adds him to a group of Justin Faulk, John-Michael Liles and Ron Hainsey that are already set to reside in Carolina’s lineup. Only 23 American defenders have worn Carolina jersey, and just 10 have logged a season's worth of games for the Canes.

• More Of The Same In 2016: Carolina took nine players this weekend, and the 2016 draft is looking like a similarly busy affair. The Canes have five picks in the first three rounds (adding L.A.’s first from the Andrej Sekera trade and Winnipeg’s third from the Jiri Tlusty deal) and are only missing their seventh-rounder (dealt away Saturday as the lesser pick in the Lack trade). The only time Carolina used more than three picks in the first three rounds combined was 2010 when they took Jeff Skinner in Round 1, Faulk and Mark Alt in the second, and Danny Biega and Austin Levi in the third. The only time the franchise chose twice in the first was 1983 when the Whalers took Sylvain Turgeon second overall and David Jensen 20th.