We’ve made it into the top half of the Carolina Hurricanes’ drafts of the past 15 years, and we’re starting to get to the point where the team had more hits than misses. There are a good number of NHL regulars on the list today, including a pair of A-pluses, and we’ve pretty much moved past the “complete disaster” stage of the review. Today, we look back at three drafts that produced a wealth of talent, including a pair of All-Star Game honorees.
2012: 2.185 GPA
The Hurricanes didn’t have a first-round pick because they sent it to the Penguins for Jordan Staal (on his wedding day, no less). But that didn’t stop them from bringing home a real haul, at least in quantity if not in quality.
Round 2 #37: Phil Di Giuseppe - Grade: C
You’d probably want to see a high second-rounder become more than a role player. PDG is exactly that: a serviceable fourth-liner who is limited in his ability to play higher up in the lineup. He’s an NHL player, at least, so that counts for something.
Round 2 #47: Brock McGinn - Grade: B+
Look, get your jokes about First Line Brock out of the way; the bottom line is that McGinn is a prototypical third-liner who can play up in a pinch and can kill penalties. We may or may not have given him a slight bump thanks to his having scored the most famous overtime goal in Hurricanes history, non-Scott Walker division.
Round 3 #69: Daniel Altshuller - Grade: D
Nice pick, sure, but Altshuller’s career sputtered out after bouncing between the AHL and ECHL on his ELC. At the end of those three years he was non-tendered, and aside from a two-game cameo in the ECHL in 2018 he hasn’t been seen in professional hockey since.
Round 4 #99: Erik Karlsson - Grade: D
No, not the defenseman. (We’ll get to him in a few minutes.) This Karlsson is a Swedish winger who followed largely the same path as Altshuller: a couple of years in the AHL, no clear path to the NHL, and eventually non-tendered. He’s been playing in Finland for the past three years.
Round 4 #115: Trevor Carrick - Grade: C
Chances are that Carrick will be a career AHLer, with a commensurate salary to match: he made $350,000 last year in the AHL according to CapFriendly, one of the highest AHL-specific salaries in the league. Finding a second-tier mainstay in the fourth round isn’t bad value at all; the chances of him playing any more than a few NHL games a season are low, but he’s the type of squad player every team needs a few of.
Round 4 #120: Jaccob Slavin - Grade: A+
Don’t really need to go into much detail on this one, right? How’s this for a hot take: Slavin is the best player the Hurricanes have ever taken after the second round since the move in 1997. Prove me wrong. (There’s one other candidate, in my mind.)
Round 5 #129: Brendan Woods - Grade: C+
Woods is another player, like Carrick, who will make his career in the AHL. He had a couple of short stints with the Hurricanes, but other than spot duty he won’t see much NHL ice time in the future.
Round 6 #159: Collin Olsen - Grade: C-
Round 7 #189: Brendan Collier - Grade: C
Neither of these players moved beyond college hockey, never signing an ELC.
2008: 2.267 GPA
Thanks to a bevy of trades, the Hurricanes only made five picks in the 2008 draft. That meant they had to hit on their picks, and while it wasn’t a complete win they didn’t do too poorly.
Round 1 #14: Zach Boychuk - Grade: C-
We know, we know, they could have had Erik Karlsson (the really good one) who was taken with the next pick. But we promised to avoid Monday-morning quarterbacking who else was on the board, so we’ll grade Boychuk on the merits, which...weren’t great. Every year, it seemed, a roster space was held open for Boychuk, and every year he couldn’t hang onto it. He finally got to the point where he was non-tendered, which for a first round pick is...uh, suboptimal. He spent a few years in the KHL but is best known now for probably following you on Twitter.
Round 2 #45: Zac Dalpe - Grade: C+
Dalpe was another player who struggled to maintain an NHL roster spot, although he had just a bit more success. For the past three years he’s been an elder-statesman type in the Blue Jackets’ system along with another former Hurricane, Nathan Gerbe.
Round 4 #105: Michal Jordan - Grade: B
Probably would have had a more extensive NHL career if not for the fact that he was physically abused by the head coach while on the Hurricanes’ bench. Let’s move on.
Round 6 #165: Mike Murphy - Grade: C+
The claim to fame for Murphy, aside from the two games he played in as an emergency callup in December of 2011, is that he is the only goalie in NHL history to record a loss in a game in which he didn’t allow a goal. Yes, seriously.
Round 7 #195: Samuel Morneau - Grade: C
Never signed an ELC or advanced out of junior hockey.
2015: 2.444 GPA
There are a couple of players who never inked an ELC in this class, but the 2015 draft was largely a win, headlined by one of the best second-round picks in recent history.
Round 1 #5: Noah Hanifin - Grade: A-
Hanifin was the obvious pick, and while he likely won’t be the foundational player that he was once thought to be - along with the two players at the top of the draft - he’s a very good number-3 defenseman. Just because this was a no-brainer of a selection doesn’t mean the Hurricanes didn’t get it right.
Round 2 #35: Sebastian Aho - Grade: A+
Once more, with feeling: how did the entire first round pass on him?
Round 4 #93: Callum Booth - Grade: C-
For a brief while there was some thought that Booth could be Cam Ward’s heir apparent, but that won’t be happening. After three underwhelming years mostly spent in the ECHL, Booth was non-tendered this offseason and signed a minimum-wage deal with the Bruins.
Round 4 #96: Nicolas Roy - B
The Canes actually did well here, even though Roy was traded before the end of his ELC. He’s become a fourth-line fixture with the Vegas Golden Knights, and played in every one of their 20 playoff games this season. Not bad for a key contributor to the Checkers’ 2019 championship squad who was a victim of a numbers game with the Hurricanes.
Round 5 #126: Luke Stevens - Grade: D
After graduating in 2020 following four years at Yale, Stevens did not sign a contract with the Hurricanes, and remains an unrestricted free agent looking for a new home.
Round 5 #138: Spencer Smallman - Grade: C-
Smallman’s career has been wracked with injuries, and that’s probably going to keep him from ever making it beyond the organizational-depth category. It’s early, but he shows signs of being a Carrick-style AHL lifer.
Round 6 #156: Jake Massie - Grade: C
Massie turned professional four seasons after he was drafted, and became an unrestricted free agent when the Chicago Blackhawks, to whom he had been traded, did not sign him. He then went to Panthers development camp and impressed enough that Florida signed him to a two-year ELC in 2019, and he spent most of last season as a healthy scratch with the AHL Springfield Thunderbirds. It’s unlikely he makes an NHL impact, but it’s not impossible.
Round 6 #169: David Cotton - Grade: C+
This could rise in future years, as Cotton and his brother Jason both signed ELCs with the Hurricanes following their college careers. There was no guarantee that David Cotton was going to sign with the Hurricanes at all, so this counts as a minor win, and the organization is very high on him moving forward. In a few years he might have a totally different evaluation.
Round 7 #186: Steven Lorentz - Grade: B-
Talk about your players who work their tails off to earn their shot. Lorentz wasn’t drafted his first time through as an eligible draftee, then was finally snapped up in the seventh round of his second draft. He didn’t sign an ELC until after he had finished his overage year in the OHL, then spent a season largely in the ECHL before splitting time with the Checkers in 2018-19. All he proceeded to do last year in Charlotte was finish second on the team in goals and points, and earn himself a new two-year contract in the process. Don’t rule out an NHL promotion at some point for Lorentz, who has made the most of his opportunity.