After having time to digest what was one of the more strange drafts overall that I've seen, it's time to recap what Carolina did with their eight picks. Looking over the Canes’ draft list, there are some interesting things that stick out regarding the prospects that were added to the organization over the course of the weekend.
Lack of Trades
It was painfully obvious that the club did not expect to make this many draft picks. Whether it was an expansion draft hangover or a draft where after a certain point (pick 35-40ish) teams decided to go with the players that they scouted most and knew best, there was a shockingly low amount of pick and player movement. I think the best case scenario for the Canes was to have a draft of five or six picks, rather than the eventual eight.
The European Factor
Whether it was just the way that the draft fell or if it was part of their overall plan is unknown, but Carolina ended the weekend with four of their eight draft picks coming from across the pond. As Brian wrote about yesterday, it is a testament to the hard work put in by scouts Robert Kron and Joni Pitkanen among others over the scouting cycle. It’s obvious, with the picks from this season and the successes of players like Sebastian Aho and Janne Kuokkanen, that their opinions are valued at the draft table.
Size It Up
Another Canes draft went by with Ron Francis and company not selecting any prospect under six feet tall. Since he took over the reins with the 2014 draft, 32 of 33 of the players that the organization has drafted have been over six feet tall. And the one that isn’t, 5’11” Sebastian Aho, has turned out pretty well so far.
It’s obvious that this front office values certain traits in the players that they draft. Skill and hockey IQ are paramount, but it appears that so is a certain build of player given the puck protection style of play that Bill Peters wants his team to play.
Martin Necas - C - Brno - 6'1", 178 - 1/15/99
Sitting at 12, Necas was a guy who the staff likely knew would be in their available range and liked the combination of skating and skill. As was a theme all draft, Florida and Los Angeles made great picks in front of them in Owen Tippett and Gabe Vilardi, who were not expected to be available to Carolina at 12. In the end, the Canes got a guy who was high on their board and checks many of the boxes of a eventual top-six prospect. After the pick, I wrote about Necas here, and compared him to Kyle Turris, who builds his game around speed and playmaking ability.
Eetu Luostarinen - C - KalPa - 6'2" 180 - 9/2/98
In what would be a theme for the night, Carolina nabbed their first overage player at pick #42. Splitting time between KalPa’s U20 and Liiga team, Luostarinen showed an advanced playing style for his age, one built around playing a 200-foot game with playmaking ability. He signed an extension with KalPa in January, and will likely be a bigger piece to their club in 2017-18. I’ll be interested to see if a CHL team takes a shot at him in the import draft.
For more on Luostarinen, check out Marco Bombino’s scouting report here.
Luke Martin - D - Michigan - 6'3" 220 - 9/20/98
One of my favorite picks of the night, based upon need, was Martin. I figured that, once the Canes moved their third second-round pick to Vegas, that they would look for a forward and defenseman in round two. Martin offers good size, and the ability to become a minute-munching rear guard able to play in all situations when called upon. He was in a tough situation last year at Michigan but still played top pairing minutes, so expect him to have a better season in his sophomore. I’m expecting big things from his development starting in the fall.
Morgan Geekie - C - Tri-City - 6'2" 190 - 7/20/98
It was obvious, with only taking two 1999 birth years, that the Canes were looking for players who could potentially help them a little sooner then later. Geekie, their second overager of the night, was taken in a good pick range in the third round and should provide depth in the future. Another guy who is committed to play both sides of the puck, Geekie’s game grew dramatically in 2016-17.
Stelio Mattheos - W - Brandon - 6'0" 190 - 6/15/99
Mattheos was another of my favorites taken by the Canes, and fans will love his game if he makes it to Raleigh. He’s a versatile forward who plays a hard-nosed, grind it out game and loves to get to the net. Excellent pick value at 73, especially with the run of guys who came off the board in the late 2nd and early 3rd rounds. Will take on a bigger role in Brandon next season.
Eetu Makiniemi - G - Jokerit - 6'3" 175 - 4/19/99
I think it’s always important for organizations to draft one goaltender per draft. The last draft that Carolina did not was 2013, which made sense since they only owned four selections. With a goalie stable of Alex Nedeljkovic, Callum Booth, Jeremy Helvig and Jack LaFontaine already in the fold, Makiniemi will be afforded time to stay in Europe as a developmental netminder.
Brendan de Jong - D - Portland - 6'5" 195 3/23/98
Their final overage player was the oldest of the three, as de Jong is already 19 years old. He is a big-bodied kid whose measurables jump out when looking closer at him. Likely projecting as a big, stay at home style defenseman, de Jong could be a big-hitting, shot blocking, penalty killing type down the road.
Ville Rasanen - D - Jokipojat - 6'1" 170 10/8/98
The Canes haven’t seen a seventh rounder play significant NHL games since Frederik Andersen was drafted there in 2010. Rasanen, however appears to be a player that both Francis and head scout Tony McDonald were excited to bring into the fold. He is a developmental defenseman who has some talent.
Overall, although the draft didn’t go down as many expected from the trade side, Carolina continued to add depth to their system and got better this weekend. Thanks for reading through all of our draft coverage throughout the year, and check back in with the Prospect Corner during the season for updates and information on guys to keep an eye on for the 2018 draft.