While all eyes are on the first round of the NHL Draft next Tuesday, the later rounds are equally important for finding prospects who will impact your team for years to come. The Carolina Hurricanes are no stranger to finding gems later in the draft, with players including Warren Foegele, Brett Pesce, Brock McGinn, and Jaccob Slavin, all being selected beyond the first round.
Here’s a look at three players who the Hurricanes could consider drafting with the 41st overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.
Right Wing, Chicago Steel (USHL)
2019-20 Stats: 44 games played, 28 goals, 30 assists, 58 points
Teams have their choice of players to consider from a dominant Chicago Steel team, with Colangelo being one of their leading scorers this past season. Colangelo has more skill and shooting ability than your traditional power forward, but at 6-foot-2 and 207 pounds at just 18 years old, he’s already showing that he’s more than capable of handling the physical side of the game.
Known as a goal scorer, Colangelo scores seemingly at will from anywhere on the ice. He’s got the vision to move the puck well, using his passing skills to set up teammates for success. And if he loses the puck, he’s going to get it back. He seems fearless on the ice, using his size to his advantage to win puck battles and regain possession.
Colangelo is committed to Northeastern University, where — assuming there is any sort of NCAA season in 2020-21 — he will be able to test and refine his skills against players who are bigger and stronger than the majority of USHL players.
Colangelo’s skating and speed could be improved upon, but he already has the physical size, strength, and instincts to be successful. He is expected to be picked in the mid- or late-second round. He’s been compared stylistically to players like Auston Matthews, Blake Wheeler, and Jarome Iginla.
Defenseman, Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
2019-20 Stats: 64 games played, 9 goals, 48 assists, 58 points
While Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon famously said that he doesn’t want the team to draft defensemen in the first round, there are plenty of attractive prospect defensemen who can be found in the second round and beyond. Villeneuve, a former second overall pick in the QMJHL Draft, is often overshadowed by teammate and defensive partner Jérémie Poirer, who is expected to go in the first round.
Villeneuve is known as a two-way defenseman who excels at finding his teammates to set them up for scoring opportunities. And while Villeneuve isn’t profiled as a primarily offensive defenseman, he did lead all QMJHL defensemen in assists and total points in the 2019-20 season and was a finalist for the league’s Defenseman of the Year award.
Young defensemen often struggle with the less flashy, more defensive parts of the game, but Villeneuve has shown that he is equally comfortable leading breakouts as he is patrolling the blue line to help his team maintain possession. His skating seems to be the biggest area of concern, but something that can easily be improved on.
Expected to go anywhere from the mid-second to mid-third round, Villeneuve is projected as a top-four defenseman and has been compared stylistically to Kris Letang and Alec Martinez.
Right Wing, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
2019-20 Stats: 64 games played, 25 goals, 45 assists, 70 points
While the Wiesblatt siblings (brothers Ocean, Orca, Oasiz, Ozzy, and sister Oceania) frequently get brought up in discussions on social media regarding their unique names, Ozzy looks like he’ll be the first in the family to be drafted, with a legitimate shot at carving out a role for himself as a pro.
In his second full season with the Prince Albert Raiders, Wiesblatt took on a top-line role and adapted easily to the new responsibility. He doesn’t seem to have an off switch and thrives in the somewhat niche but always entertaining role of skilled pest.
Not just content to be an agitator who generally stays on the right side of the rulebook (he had 36 penalty minutes in 64 games), Wiesblatt excels at creating space for his teammate, winning puck battles along the boards, and setting up his teammates for scoring chances. He doesn’t necessarily have the hands to make him an elite scorer, but can certainly contribute in that way when he gets a chance, and perhaps could contribute more if encouraged to shoot the puck more frequently rather than primarily setting up his teammates.
Wiesblatt is expected to be picked in the second round and projects to be a middle-six player who can play further up in the lineup if needed. At 5-foot-10, he is somewhat undersized, but one look at the career of someone like Andrew Shaw says that Wiesblatt can easily carve out a similar role if given the opportunity.