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Point/Counterpoint: What should the Canes do with the second pick?

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The Hurricanes are in a unique position to influence the franchise’s next decade or more. Which path should they choose?

Dave Reginek/Getty Images

Saturday night, the Carolina Hurricanes were one of the lucky teams to have their numbers drawn at the NHL Draft Lottery, moving them up nine spots in the first round of this year’s draft to the second pick. And almost immediately, a debate broke out: do you use the second pick to draft what will likely be a top performer, or do you dangle it to pick up a proven scorer, one the Hurricanes have been in dire need of since time immemorial?

Because this is the internet in 2018, we decided to disagree in written form. Brett says obviously you draft a potential superstar player. Brian says no, use it to get a sure thing. What say you?


Brett: Use It

For me, it’s simple; you don’t trade the number two overall draft pick unless you are getting a superstar in return.

Right now, the Hurricanes find themselves in a situation where they can select a player in the draft who can change the franchise for the next decade. Over the past nine years, this team failed to give into a full rebuild that would have gotten them a franchise-altering top-two draft pick. On Saturday, the ping pong balls bounced in such a way that totally bails the Canes out.

When whatever remains of Carolina’s front office walks to the podium in Dallas, they will be able to select a franchise player that the team hasn’t had since 2003 second-overall pick Eric Staal.

Andrei Svechnikov

Svechnikov has otherworldly upside, one that resembles the likes of fellow European goal-maestros Patrik Laine, Nikita Kucherov, and Alex Ovechkin. His 40 goals in 44 games (.91 goals per game) in the OHL was the highest per-game goal rate of anyone in his league, and he accomplished that after missing the beginning of the season due to a broken hand.

In Connor McDavid’s draft year, he had 44 goals in OHL 47 games (.94 goals per game). If you’re only .03% behind the most talented hockey player in the world in an offensive statistic, you’re probably doing something right.

While there’s no debate that McDavid’s playmaking ability is leaps and bounds better than Svechnikov’s, the Russian is no pushover. He has great hands and on-ice vision that makes him a well above average, perhaps even elite, playmaker. 64 of his 72 points (89%) this past season were primary points (goals and primary assists), which is absolutely absurd.

There are people out there who think that, had he been healthy all season, Svechnikov could have given consensus number-one pick Rasmus Dahlin a run for his money at the top of the draft. His injury kept him out of the lineup so, while Dahlin was putting on a show in Sweden, he was rehabbing and not receiving the buzz he would’ve been getting.

Svechnikov has it all. He’s a big, powerful right winger with an elite shot, underrated playmaking ability, and a defensive game that is mature beyond his years. He will step into Carolina’s lineup in October and be an instant top-six quality player with remarkable upside. I’m talking regular 40-goal-season upside. That’s a player that this franchise has never had, not even Eric Staal could put up the goal numbers that this stereotypical Russian power winger has the ability to put up. His combination of size and speed makes him nearly impossible to contain in the offensive zone. While other players can make great plays in open ice, Svechnikov creates his own space, forces his way through defenses, and can do amazing things in tight quarters.

If you like advanced stats, here’s how he stacks up to Czech winger Filip Zadina, a QMJHL star that is projected to go in the top-four of the draft.

Offense, shot rate, zone-entry, and zone-exit chart for Andrei Svechnikov (OHL) and Flip Zadina (QMJHL).
Mitch Brown (The Athletic)

Svechnikov was, legitimately, in a league of his own in the OHL this past season for the Barrie Colts. He’s a monster offensively, possessing the ability to create scoring chances both for himself and his teammates and execute controlled offensive zone entries and defensive zone exits. He also owns a smart defensive game that only boosts his offense and possession numbers.

He’s a machine, and he needs to be wearing red and black on June 22. If you’re the Canes, you do not trade this pick for a package of players whose value adds up to that of the second-overall pick. This team has an abundance of good players, perhaps too many. They need THE guy, not A guy(s).

You need a young, controllable star coming back via trade who can change the team in a way similar to what Svechnikov is capable of doing. I highly doubt that can or will happen, though. There’s a reason why teams with top-three picks very rarely trade out of that position.

As far as I’m concerned, you don’t overthink this. Listen to trade offers and see what’s out there, but if/when the offers fail in comparison to the player you can draft; you use the pick, get your goal-scoring superstar in the making and reap the benefits for a very long time - starting next season. He’s ready to play right now and do so at a very high level. Andrei Svechnikov is the type of draft pick that can change your organization.


Brian: Trade It

Dave Chyzowski. Pat Falloon. Andrei Zyuzin. Oleg Tverdovsky. Ryan Murray.

Yeah, it’s possible that you get a generational talent at the second pick, where the likes of Patrik Laine, Evgeni Malkin and Tyler Seguin were once selected. It’s likely you get a game-breaker, a Daniel Sedin or a Chris Pronger, at the very least. But it’s also entirely possible you get a black hole the size of Pat Falloon.

We know that Rasmus Dahlin is in his own zip code in this draft. Really, the only lottery intrigue was to see who would get him; everyone else from two on down to about seven or so will have a chance to take a player who will likely be solid but who will also not be Dahlin, who is presumably Erik Karlsson’s heir apparent as the standard-bearer for NHL defensemen.

The Hurricanes can’t take chances with this pick. If they get the right offer, they should absolutely move it. Like Brett said, “the right offer” really has to be the right offer, but it’s incumbent upon the Canes’ front office - or, more specifically given the events of yesterday, what remains of it - to go down every avenue to pursue a game-changer who is already in the league.

To be fair, the Hurricanes can’t really resolve to trade the pick come hell or high water. If they don’t get an unquestionable talent in return - a player on the order of a Mark Scheifele, an Evgeny Kuznetsov, an Artemi Panarin - then you don’t trade it. But what they can’t do is sit on their hands until June 22 waiting for someone to call them with a deal that blows them away. They have to be working the phones night and day looking for the right move. And if they can’t find it, then Andrei Svechnikov would be a heck of a consolation prize.

If you’re the Hurricanes, you can’t afford to blow this. If Svechnikov or Filip Zadina aren’t a sure thing, making the wrong decision could set the franchise back a decade or more. Play it right, and they could move this pick, get an unquestioned top-line player and also pick a potential diamond in the rough at the same time.

Much as we might like to believe otherwise, Justin Faulk and spare parts aren’t going to return the top-line center that the Hurricanes so desperately need. Having this pick gives the organization a get out of jail free card, and the Hurricanes need to take advantage of it. They simply must to do everything in their power to move the pick, trusting in the return of a top player and their organizational depth to propel them back into the postseason.


Poll

You make the call: what should the Hurricanes do with the second pick?

This poll is closed

  • 84%
    Keep it and use it no matter what
    (554 votes)
  • 15%
    Trade it in the right deal
    (103 votes)
657 votes total Vote Now