The Carolina Hurricanes went into this past weekend's draft armed with nine draft picks and many fans felt those should have provided the club with plenty of ammunition to use for trades or for moving up in the draft.
But the Canes did not make a trade and left for home Saturday afternoon with nine brand new prospects.
For the third draft in a row and for the fourth time in their last five drafts in which they had a first round pick, they selected a defenseman with their first choice. (skipping the 2012 draft when they traded their first rounder in the Jordan Staal deal).
This choice was a pretty surprising one because almost everyone felt like Ron Francis would go for the best forward available, considering the team already had a top-notch stable of blueliners and their (high skill level) forward depth is seriously lacking. But Francis and company went with the best player available on their list and chose Jake Bean, who was considered by most to be the best offensive, defenseman in the draft.
When Francis first announced the pick from the draft stage, I think most in Canes Country were very surprised and I was told that the news initially went over like a lead balloon at the draft party, which was attended by over 1,000 very excited Caniacs. With Luke Kunin and Kieffer Bellows both still available, Tony MacDonald must have seen something in Bean that he did not see in the two highly rated forwards.
The Canes had previously selected Ryan Murphy with the 12th overall choice in the 2011 draft, who came with similar credentials as Bean as one of the top offensive blueliners in that draft. As a matter of fact, Murphy had amassed even more points in his draft year than Bean, (26 goals, 53 assists, 79 points in 63 games) and he was also noted to be an expert on the powerplay.
Still, these are two different players and there is no reason to think that their development will be the same or even similar.
Bean was very highly rated by several scouting services and the Red Line Report even went so far as to say he was the best defenseman to come out of the West in 10 years. The Calgary Hitman also has decent size, (6'1) which should help him at the next level.
With their next pick at number 21 overall, the Hurricanes seemed to get exactly what the team needed.
Julien Gauthier, a big, bruising forward who likes to crash the net and has the ability and soft hands to score goals, was rated much higher earlier in the season, (in the top 10). His production slipped a bit in the second half, as did his ranking.
Why did he slip on many team's lists? His "hockey sense" is questioned by some and he seems to be a bit of a "one-trick-pony", in that he gets most of his goals from in close.
Regardless, that is a "trick" that is desperately needed in Carolina.
Some think Gauthier might have a chance to make the team this fall. He has the physical ability but can he learn the system that quickly? We will find out.
In the second round, where Carolina is known to find gems, they went to the Finnish well once again and selected Janne Kuokkanen.
Like Sebastian Aho, Kuokkanen impressed many at the U-18 tournament and reminded many scouts of Aho. Ron Francis said he was impressed by the Finn's hockey IQ.
The Canes entered the third round with three picks in this round and started it off by selecting Matt Filipe at number 67.
Filipe is another forward with size, (6'2) and good speed. He is slated to play at Northeastern this fall.
Next, they went even bigger at forward with Hudson Elynuik, (6'5) at number 74. McKeen's really liked him and had him rated at 57 overall.
The Canes picked two big goalies a bit later, Jack LaFontaine at 75 and Jeremy Helvig at 134. Both have very good stats but we will see what happens in the future with them.
Between the goalie choices at number 104 was Max Zimmer, a USHL product who Steve Kournianos lists as an "explosive scorer". Central Scouting had him ranked as the 77th best skater in North America.
They closed out the draft just as they started it, with the selection of another defenseman, Noah Carroll.
(If you are not six foot or more, you need not apply.) All of Carolina's picks were listed over six feet tall.
While the initial reaction to the draft may have been a bit quiet here in Raleigh, the Canes are getting praise around the league.
Yahoo Sports gave them a "B".
The Bleacher Report gave them an "A-".
SB Nation gave them an "Outstanding".
The Score.com gave them an "A".
Last Word on Sports said that the Canes had the best draft of any team in the league, (they included the trade with Chicago) and gave them an "A+".
Obviously, it will be years before we find out what the true grades are, but now that the dust has settled, how do you feel they did?