With their second round pick at 43rd overall, the Hurricanes have selected Finnish forward Janne Kuokkanen. Following the success that the team had with last year's second round pick, fellow Finn Sebastian Aho, it shouldn't be much of a surprise that general manager Ron Francis elected to return to the Finnish pipeline.
The Draft Analyst had Kuokkanen ranked at 48th in their final draft rankings, while Future Considerations ranked him at 70th.
Dennis Schellenberg of The Hockey Writers had the following to say about the Hurricanes' newest prospect:
Janne Kuokkanen is a very smart hockey player who uses his entire hockey IQ to make plays and setup scoring chances. His vision is outstanding and he is very well aware of his line mates. He reads the game well and distributes the puck using his powerful and accurate pass. If you watch him play you get the feeling that he knows what to do next even before he has the puck.
Kuokkanen is a good puckhandler and is extremely good in tight space. He can make plays with opponents pressuring him and still manages to set up scoring chances while defenders are around him. He is a smooth and agile skater but could improve his skating balance. He also competes hard defensively; Backcheckes well and is aware of his defensive role. While backchecking, he uses an active stick and tries to create turnovers. He does the same in the neutral zone and cuts passing lanes effectively.
Kuokkanen is an effective three-zone player but don’t expect him to get involved physically. He often stays away from board battles and rather uses his good positional game, smooth skating and hockey smarts to make plays.
Kuokkanen would have a decent wrist shot but doesn’t use it often. Too many times, he decides for a pass when he could have fired the puck instead. He has only played one professional game in the Finnish Liiga so far and this could be because teams are unsure how he would do against bigger and more physical players.
Kuokkanen played for Karpat's junior team this past season, and it's almost a certainty that he'll play for the pro team there this coming season. That's another similarity that Kuokkanen shares with Aho, as Aho has (presumably) just wrapped up his Finnish league career as a member of Karpat.
What are your thoughts on this pick for the Hurricanes? Do you like it, or was there someone else left on the board that you would have preferred to see? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.