Five different players skated in less than ten games for the Carolina Hurricanes during the 2017-18 season. Today, we will take a look at each one of them, how they did in Raleigh, how their season went elsewhere, and what their chances are of playing for the Canes on a regular basis next season.
Despite being Carolina’s less talked about Finnish second-round pick over the past few years, Kuokkanen is not a player you should gloss over while evaluating the future of the club.
The 19-year-old forward made the big club out of training camp and played in four games before playing most of the campaign with the Charlotte Checkers in the AHL.
He failed to register a point in Raleigh, but he was solid in his two-way play, putting up attractive possession numbers in the process. His play in the American league was where he shined, though. As a rookie, he tallied 40 points in 60 games in the regular season. In the Calder Cup Playoffs, he netted three goals in eight games.
Since he only played in four NHL games last season, his entry-level contract didn’t get used, which is a big plus for the Canes moving forward. Though, now that Kuokkanen is 20-years-old, next season will be the first of his cheap three-year deal, whether he plays in the NHL or not.
This is a player that I am very excited about. With all the high-profile young players in the organization’s pipeline, it’s easy to overlook a guy like this. He’s not as flashy as some other guys, but he a responsible two-way player with great skill and vision with the puck on his stick.
The one area that he still needs to work on is his skating. His first step isn’t where it needs to be, which can get him into trouble at times. That said, if he can get just a bit quicker over the offseason, I’d debate that he has just about as good a shot as anyone to make the NHL team out of training camp in September, just like he did this past season.
This is a player whose skill set should give him a long NHL career.
The past two season have been very kind to Foegele, a player who has quickly risen up the prospect hierarchy and now appears to be a player that will figure into this team’s future plans.
Coming off of an OHL championship run in 2017, wherein he won the playoff MVP trophy; the now 22-year-old had a banner year as a rookie in Charlotte, being named the team’s rookie of the year in the process - which is a pretty big accomplishment given the amount of talented first-year players on that team.
Foegele spent much of the season as the AHL’s rookie goal leader and finished the campaign with 28 goals, a Charlotte rookie record, and he didn’t see any regular time on the powerplay. That’s extremely impressive. He got into two NHL games down the stretch and scored a goal in both games.
There’s a lot to like about this guy. He’s a great skater, he plays the body well, he kills penalties extremely well, and he has a knack for getting into scoring areas - even if he has to bulldoze his way there.
He should be among the favorites to earn a job in Raleigh come September, and he may very well have played his last AHL game. His physicality and ability to kill penalties should only up his on-ice value for the club, making him a player that can be used in any role on the depth chart.
Speed and skill is the name of the game for this 19-year-old Czech center. A 2017 first-round pick, Necas made the big club out of training camp but only drew into one game - a road win against the Edmonton Oilers in mid-October.
Despite only seeing six odd minutes of ice time (something which I will never understand), he showed why the organization drafted him above some other notable prospects. Against NHL competition, he impressed in a very small sample size.
When the team sent him back to Brno in the Czech league, he took things to another level and became one of the fastest-rising prospects in the NHL.
In 24 games in the Czech Republic’s top league, Necas tallied 17 points. In the postseason, he lifted his game once again. He finished with nine points in 14 games, including what ended up being the game-winning goal in the championship game. He also logged 11 points in the World Junior Championships, leading the Czechs to a surprisingly successful run.
More recently, Necas made the Czech national team for the World Championships and, against some of the best players in the world, had a marvelous tournament which featured three goals and five points over the course of seven games.
Martin Necas is a winner. In the big moments, he is the guy that comes through. He’s a two-time champion in the Czech men’s league, and now it looks like he won’t have a chance to make it three, because he’s a virtual lock to make the Canes next season.
This is a special player with an unlimited ceiling. He could be Carolina’s answer as a number-one center in the very near future. For me, it’s not outlandish to think that he can be a Calder candidate next season for NHL rookie of the year. If it’s possible for a 12th-overall draft pick to be a steal, Necas could end up being a huge steal as he has already established himself as a consensus top-five prospect in all of the NHL.
Despite being on the verge of turning 24, defenseman Trevor Carrick is still an intriguing prospect for the Hurricanes.
The 2012 fourth-round pick bounced back from an iffy 2016-17 campaign with a big year for Charlotte, finishing with a career-high 11 goals and 44 points in ‘17-18.
Like Necas, Carrick’s only game in the NHL last season was on October 17 in Edmonton. He saw just over seven minutes of ice time, but he showed some good and bad. He has a cannon of a shot from the blue line that can make life very difficult for opposing net-minders, and while he doesn’t have the puck-distributing ability of a guy like Jake Bean, he has good vision and makes smart decisions with the puck in most cases.
A couple of other intangibles that he brings are leadership and grit. He is never afraid to rough up an opponent, drop the gloves, or step in to defend a teammate. His defense, however, does need some work still as he has a tendency to get lost in his own end (not uncommon for younger defensemen).
If Carrick can iron out some small details, he can still be a guy who works his way onto Carolina’s blue line. It’s hard to envision him cracking the top-six next season, but he would be an upgrade over Klas Dahlbeck as a seventh defenseman who gets his way into 30 or so games. With his skating ability and offensive prowess, he has a future in the NHL.
He has gained all there is to gain from playing in the AHL, though. Next year will be a huge one for him as he fights for a roster spot on the big club. He is a pending restricted free agent, so expect him to get another one-year, two-way deal.
If you’re looking for size and raw talent, Nicolas Roy is your guy.
This 6’4” power center out of Quebec may end up being one of the best value picks from the 2014 draft, wherein he was a fourth-round selection.
Roy had two huge years in the QMJHL after he was drafted and now has one full professional season under his belt. With Charlotte last season, he had a modest 11 goals and 38 points in 70 games.
His upside is much higher than that, though. While 38 points doesn’t look like much, that Checkers team was absolutely loaded offensively and not everyone could get lofty point totals. Roy was great in a two-way role and he contributed his fair share of offense to boot.
Roy is great in faceoff circle and has a huge frame that can really get in the way of a goalie’s line of sight. He showed off a bit of his physicality in game 82 against the Tampa Bay Lightning when he made his NHL debut.
The 21-year-old has a nose for the net and can be a physical force in all three zones, so this is yet another young player to get excited about (a common trend within Carolina’s prospect list).
He may compete for a job with the big club out of camp next season, but it’s more likely that he gets some more time in Charlotte first, perhaps in a bigger role that lets his offense shine a bit more. In due time, though; he could turn into a middle-six center in the NHL with good offensive output and the ability to effectively kill penalties.