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Carolina Hurricanes Prospect Corner: It’s Playoff Season

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Saarela impresses in a small AHL sample size, and we check in on the CHL playoffs

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This week in the Canes’ prospect corner, we check in on a player having a historic start to his North American career, and take a look at the Canes prospects taking part in the CHL playoffs.


Saarela’s Fast Start in Charlotte

The Charlotte Checkers received a welcome addition to their forward group last week when Aleksi Saarela, who was the gem of the package that the Hurricanes received in the Eric Staal deal last season, joined the team for their push towards the playoffs.

Saarela has been dominant in arguably the four most important games of the Checkers’ season, scoring four times and adding two assists to open his career in North America. His performance last week was rewarded yesterday, when he was named the CCM/AHL Player of the Week.

The Hurricanes could give him a stint in the NHL lineup before the end of the season, but will absolutely take a long look over the summer and throughout training camp. Due to his experience playing in the top league in Finland with Lukko, where he led his team in goals in 2016-17, as well as his deft ability as a finisher, he is one to watch for making the Canes roster as early as next season. Carolina could certainly use a player with his skill set in the top-nine forward group.


CHL Playoffs Update

OHL

Warren Foegele - Erie Otters - Defeated Sarnia (4-0)

Foegele was a key cog in the Erie machine that decimated Sarnia in a four-game first round sweep. The Otters outscored the Sting 29-12 in four games, and Foegele contributed with two goals and four assists. The newly-inked Hurricanes prospect also peppered the Sarnia goaltenders with 19 shots in four games. Erie will draw the winner of the London/Windsor series in round two.

Noah Carroll - Sault Ste Marie - Defeated Flint (4-1)

Sault Ste Marie, who finished second in the OHL’s Western Conference with a 48-16-3 record, dispatched Flint fairly easily in five games. Carroll, who joined the Greyhounds in a mid-season trade from Guelph, was a plus-4, with five shots on goal and 14 penalty minutes in the first round. Their second round series against Owen Sound starts on Wednesday.

Janne Kuokkanen - London Knights - Currently tied with Windsor (3-3)

London has battled back from being down three games to one in their series against the Spitfires to force a pivotal game seven on Tuesday. Kuokkanen has been an offense driver for the Knights with seven points in six games, while adding 20 shots on goal. He currently leads London in playoff scoring.

Steven Lorentz - Peterborough Petes - Defeated Niagara (4-0)

Another sweep, as the Petes defeated Niagara easily in four games. Lorentz had multi-goal games in two of the four contests, adding two assists to give him six points in Peterborough’s first round series. He was also dominant in the face-off circle, winning 68% of his draws.

Jeremy Helvig - Kingston Frontenacs - Currently tied with Hamilton (3-3)

The Fronts will play their game seven against Hamilton on Tuesday, after being up three games to two after game five. Helvig has played in all six games, allowing just 16 goals despite averaging 26 shots against in six games. The Canes fifth rounder will be integral in Kingston’s final first round game if they are to advance.

QMJHL

Callum Booth, Spencer Smallman, Julien Gauthier - Saint John Sea Dogs - Defeated Rimouski (4-0)

The Sea Dogs train kept rolling in round one, outscoring Rimouski 22-8 in their four game sweep. Booth started all four games, but was not very busy, only facing 70 shots and allowing eight goals in the series. Smallman has had a solid series, highlighted by his hat trick in Saint John’s 9-2 game one victory. Gauthier hasn’t been as involved, with just one goal in the short series. But as they are accustomed to, the Sea Dogs have gotten offense from multiple sources. They have had 11 different players score in their first four games.

Nicolas Roy - Chicoutimi Sagueneens - Defeated Victoriaville (4-0)

As he has done all season, Roy was the offensive stalwart in Chicoutimi’s round one sweep of Victoriaville. The Sagueneens captain has been a stat sheet filler with four goals, three assists, two power play points, 14 shots, six penalty minutes and 44 face-offs won in their round one series victory.

WHL

Jake Bean - Calgary Hitmen - Defeated by Regina (4-0)

It was a short stay in the WHL Playoffs for Calgary, who were swept by Regina in four games. Bean did add two assists in the four games, but the Hitmen were outclassed offensively by the Pats. The Canes’ 2016 first round selection joined the Charlotte Checkers yesterday, and will finish out the season in the AHL. Most likely, Bean will be back in Calgary next season, as he is not yet old enough to be AHL eligible next season.

Give Kevin a follow @kleblanchockey for prospect talk and happenings.