Editor’s note: Introducing Canes Country’s top 25 under 25 series. Last week, a group of us set out to rank the top 25 players 25 years of age or younger in the Hurricanes’ organization. We were successful in that endeavor. We took into account what players have accomplished to date, their likelihood of making it as a regular NHLer and the level of impact they’re likely to have.
On this list, you’ll find players currently on the Hurricanes’ roster and prospects scattered across the AHL, Canadian junior leagues and Europe. We’ll be revealing one player each week day (with a couple exceptions for holidays) from now through early January.
Today, we continue with a long-time Hurricanes prospect.
At No. 25, we looked at Alexander Pashin, a small-framed forward who still needs to find some lengths to his game, but with a tremendous potential offensive ceiling. Now, at No. 24, we look at another forward with a lot of upside, but one who may be already physically ready for the NHL.
David Cotton has been a long developing project for the Hurricanes, selected five-years ago in the sixth round. The 6-foot-3 center was seen as a two-way pivot with decent potential when he was drafted and has since seen his value rise with every year of play.
Cotton played four years at Boston College and saw incremental growth every season with the Eagles, culminating in 127 points in 148 career collegiate games. Cotton only ever missed two games in his NCAA career and he also served as team captain during his senior season.
Cotton was named a Hockey East First Team All-Star and Second Team All-American in his junior year, posting a stat line of 23 goals and 36 points in 39 games, and was named a Hockey East Third-Team All-Star in his senior year, posting a stat line of 15 goals and 39 points in 32 games.
While there was some worry about whether the Texas native would still sign with the team after finishing out his senior year, as the Canes were burned by an NCAA prospect a year prior, all worries were allayed when Cotton signed a two-year, two-way, $858,750 contract in March. And it was not just him that signed, but he did it alongside his brother, Jason, who the Canes signed to a one-year deal.
Cotton has the potential to be just the type of player Rod Brind’Amour loves as a big-body, two-way player. Cotton’s defensive awareness has developed nicely and he can utilize his size and 205-pound frame efficiently to help on the defensive side of the ice to win battles and separate pucks from carriers.
On the other side of the ice, he is able to use that size to get in close to the net and win those tight battles. Size doesn’t make a player, but it definitely helps boost your chances of breaking into the league when you can combine it with smooth skating, and a sneaky offensive upside in terms of Cotton’s strong and quick wrist shot.
While Cotton showed promise in the NCAA, it will be up to him to see if he can maintain that level of play in the AHL, where he will most likely start his professional career. If he has a good showing, he could easily see his stock rise on the call-up chart.
In terms of ceiling, Cotton could develop as a 2C in the best-case-scenario, but more than likely will see a fit as a reliable bottom-six forward who can play on the penalty kill and will help chip in consistent production.
A pretty good upside for a sixth-round pick.