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Prospect Corner: Updating the Hurricanes of the Future

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Junior and overseas seasons are in full swing, and we take a look at some of the early standout performers.

Kontinental Hockey League: SKA St Petersburg 0 - 3 CSKA Moscow Photo by Peter Kovalev\TASS via Getty Images

A new Canes season is upon us, which means future Hurricanes are also in action across junior hockey and throughout Europe. Let’s check on which prospects have started the early season successfully.


Europe

Carolina’s prospect group has a definite European flair this season, with 10 players in the organizational pipeline active in three different countries. As is typical in draft plus-one seasons, sometimes it’s difficult for young prospects to receive consistent playing time in the bigger European leagues. This has been the case for 2019 draftees Patrik Puistola and Pyotr Kochetkov.

Puistola’s playing time with Tappara has been inconsistent due to the team’s title aspirations and the coach’s reluctance to play younger players high in his lineup. Tappara is leading Liiga currently, so it’s unlikely that this strategy will change any time soon. Carolina’s third rounder can drop down a league and play in Mestis, or stay with the Liiga club and fight for more minutes. Kochetkov had a similar early-season playing time issue which was rectified by a trade last week. The second rounder was moved from SKA St. Petersburg to Vityaz, which should allow for more time in the net, the most important piece to a young goaltender’s development.

Early season returns from winger Tuukka Tieksola have been excellent, as the fourth rounder has been dominant for Kärpät’s U20 team. His 20 points in 13 games are good for eighth in the league, and should earn him more time with the Liiga club as the year progresses.


NCAA

The early season in the NCAA is always tough to evaluate because of the different points of the fall when conferences start their season. David Cotton, Kevin Wall, Matt Filipe, Max Zimmer, Domenick Fensore and Luke Martin have games under their belt, whereas Jack Drury and Luke Stevens don’t start until November.

Cotton has continued to build on his successful college career, with a pair of three-point games against Wisconsin and Colgate to open his senior campaign. Cotton’s seven points in 4 games are good for a tie for 13th among all NCAA skaters.

Jack LaFontaine’s return to college hockey thus far has been a successful one. After leaving Michigan following his sophomore season, LaFontaine played a year in the BCHL, which helped him to not only develop with an organization that allowed him ample opportunity to play, but also transfer to another school and not have to sit for a year without seeing action. His 2.51 goals against average and .914 save percentage through four games played has been a sign of progress early in his junior season.


Ontario Hockey League

After a couple years with few prominent prospects in the OHL, Carolina fans will be paying attention to the league more closely with two of the club’s best prospects featuring heavily.

Ryan Suzuki has had a nice start to his season in Barrie, averaging just over a point-per-game through nine contests on the young season. In his draft season Suzuki posted 75 points in 65 games, and you would like to see a steady jump to closer to a 1.50 points-per-game rate in his first post-draft season. Assuming he plays an entire year without any injury issues, that would place him firmly in the top 15 scorers in the league.

Jamieson Rees missed some early season action with a six-game suspension after delivering a hit from behind, but has been on fire since his return. In just four games, the forward has 10 points, and should be a force for Sarnia all season. Rees’ physicality is a staple in his game, but he does need to make more calculated decisions with it from time to time. If he can stay on the ice, he’s going to have a breakout season offensively.

Sixth-rounder Blake Murray has had a good start to the season for Sudbury with 13 points in 13 games. The Wolves are among the highest scoring teams in the OHL, led by uber-prospect and potential first overall pick in the 2020 draft Quinton Byfield. Murray was a 30-goal scorer last year, and was one of the younger players drafted in June, so this developmental year is an important one for him. Here’s to hoping the Canes found a late-round bargain.


Pipeline Ramblings

  • Luke Henman (Blainville-Boisbriand, QMJHL) continues to be a playmaker for the Armada averaging nearly an assist-per-game on the young season. His 12 points in 10 games are good for the team lead.
  • Jack Drury’s (Harvard, ECAC) first action will come on November 1st vs Dartmouth, in what should be a huge sophomore season for the former second round pick.
  • Domenick Fensore (Boston Univ., Hockey East) has had a steady start to his freshman season, chipping in two assists in a weekend series against Northern Michigan. The blueliner also has five shots on goal in his first three games.

Hurricanes Prospects 2019: Skaters

Player Position Team GP Goals Assists P/GM PIM
Player Position Team GP Goals Assists P/GM PIM
Blake Murray C Sudbury (OHL) 13 5 8 1.00 10
David Cotton C Boston College (NCAA) 4 2 5 1.75 19
Dominik Bokk RW Rögle (Sweden) 12 1 1 0.16 2
Jack Drury C Harvard (NCAA) 0 0 0 0.00 0
Jamieson Rees C Sarnia (OHL) 4 4 6 2.50 5
Kevin Wall RW Penn State (NCAA) 2 0 1 0.50 2
Kirill Slepets RW Buran Voronezh (VHL) 16 5 7 0.75 6
Lenni Killinen RW Ässät (Finland) 11 0 3 0.27 4
Luke Henman C Blainville-Boisbriand (QMJHL) 12 1 9 0.83 2
Luke Stevens LW Yale (NCAA) 0 0 0 0.00 0
Massimo Rizzo C Coquitlam (BCHL) 5 2 3 1.00 2
Matt Filipe LW Northeastern (NCAA) 4 0 1 0.25 0
Max Zimmer LW Wisconsin (NCAA) 0 0 0 0.00 0
Patrik Puistola LW Tappara (Finland) 13 0 1 0.08 2
Ryan Suzuki C Barrie (OHL) 9 2 9 1.22 12
Tuukka Tieksola RW Kärpät U20 (Finland) 13 7 13 1.54 12
Anttoni Honka D JYP (Finland) 14 0 3 0.21 4
Cade Webber D Penticton (BCHL) 15 2 3 0.33 6
Domenick Fensore D Boston U (NCAA) 3 0 2 0.67 4
Jesper Sellgren D Luleå (Finland) 7 1 2 0.43 7
Luke Martin D Michigan (NCAA) 4 0 0 0.00 0
Ville Rasanen D Jokipojat (Finland) 1 0 0 0.00 0

Hurricanes Prospects 2019: Goalies

Player Position Team GP GAA SV% GA Saves
Player Position Team GP GAA SV% GA Saves
Eetu Makiniemi G Koovee (Finland) 6 3.13 0.906 N/A N/A
Jack LaFontaine G Minnesota (NCAA) 2 2.51 0.914 5 53
Jacob Kucharski G Providence (NCAA) 0 0 0 0 0
Pyotr Kochetkov G Vityaz (Russia) 6 2.62 0.887 N/A N/A

Check back in at the Prospect Corner all season long for updates on the future of the Canes.