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The 2020 Canes Country Ultimate Fantasy Draft: Part 1

Which players earn a spot on our all-time Hurricanes rosters? Over the next week, we’ll find out what each of our writers thinks is their best Hurricanes squad.

Carolina Hurricanes “Hail To Our Champions” Parade Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

You know what there hasn’t been enough of in the past three months? Arguing about hockey on the Internet. So let’s change that.

A couple days ago, we were spitballing ideas for a weeklong series. The usual suspects - Mount Rushmore! Most underrated! Best teams! - were all thrown around, but none of them really hit the spot for us. Then Cody had a moment of brilliance: a fantasy draft where we select players for our all-time Hurricanes squad.

Why we never thought of it before is anyone’s guess, but we hadn’t, and thank goodness, because it was a pitch-perfect idea.

Five of our writers participated: Cody, Brian, Ryan, Alec and Andrew. Sunday night on Zoom, we conducted the draft, using a random draw to determine the first-round order and a standard snaking format for subsequent rounds. For the next four days, we’ll reveal the results. Then, on Friday, you will have the chance to vote on who you think put together the best team.

The ground rules of the draft were:

  • Only players who played for the Hurricanes may be drafted. No Whalers, unless they played in both Hartford and Carolina. However, Whalers coaches - and only coaches - may be drafted even if they never coached in Carolina.
  • If someone fits the criteria as both a player and a coach, they can be drafted twice. Yes, that means Rod Brind’Amour could end up coaching himself. Stay tuned to find out if that happens.
  • We only considered their time with the Hurricanes in making selections. Paul Coffey, to throw a name out there, couldn’t include his time with the 1980s Oilers.
  • Draft based on the player’s high-water mark with the team, or where you project that mark to be if you think they haven’t reached it yet.
  • Each team will consist of one center, two wings, two defensemen, a goalie, a coach, and a wild-card selection who can be anyone from any category.

We will reveal two rounds per day, beginning with the first two today. Enjoy!

Round 1

Cody: Rod Brind’Amour (player)

The Captain. Need I say more? If I hadn’t picked RBA at number one overall I think I may have been outcast to the deep seas of the Atlantic Ocean.

Brian: Peter Laviolette

This is a bit of a strange pick, I’ll admit, but let’s be honest: the Hurricanes have been blessed with a lot of terrible coaches – so many, in fact, that we had to open the floor to Whalers coaches as well just so no one would get stuck with Kirk Muller. I thought my chances were better to get a decent if not superstar center later than they would be if I didn’t grab one of, if not the only, top tier coach early. So, while this may seem a bit like taking a kicker in round 1, I wanted to make sure I got the best coach available from a weak pool, and with due respect to Brind’Amour the coach, that’s the only man who won a championship with the franchise.

Ryan: Ron Francis

Franchise cornerstone and Hall-of-Famer. Enough said. But really, one of the most iconic players in both Hurricanes and Whalers history (he was having 50-70 point seasons at age 35+; I mean, come on) happened to fall to third? Honestly, the organization isn’t tremendously deep at center so this was a no questions asked, automatic pick in my eyes regardless. Staal was there too, and I like him a lot, but I couldn’t pass on Francis.

Alec: Eric Staal

I had a game plan coming into this thing that completely did not include Eric Staal. I figured Staal would surely be gone by pick number four, so when he wasn’t it was the obvious pick. After Brian picked Laviolette I knew my pick was going to be Francis or Staal, so Ryan made the decision for me here.

Andrew: Cam Ward

I briefly had hope that Eric Staal was going to drop into my lap, definitely didn’t have him falling to No. 4. I knew there would eventually be a run on goalies given the lack of options, and wanted to avoid that. I’m starting my team with the unquestionable No. 1 goalie in team history. Conn Smythe. Stanley Cup. All-time wins leader. Carried a lot of horrific defenses. Say what you want about the later years, but there’s only one choice for the first goalie off the board.

Round 2

Andrew: Jeff Skinner

Another player whose later tenure didn’t end great, but also did a lot of legwork without a lot of help. Skinner has his warts, but he’s darn good at his greatest strength: putting the puck in the net. A good team needs a pure goal scorer, and I’m going to get plenty of production from Skinner.

Alec: Glen Wesley

I had entertained picking Wesley fourth overall before Staal fell past the top three, so I just stuck with him here in the second round. I thought about doubling down on forwards with Sebastian Aho, but figured getting a defenseman to balance things out made sense.

Ryan: Dougie Hamilton

Have the Hurricanes had a more offensively gifted defenseman than Dougie Hamilton? He has only been in Carolina for two seasons and is already 13th all-time in points by defensemen. He was on a Norris-finalist pace for the 2019-20 regular season before his leg injury and if the Hurricanes can extend him longer, which they should, he will most definitely hurl his way up the franchise ladder. Another no-brainer pick in my eyes and it gives my team that lethal puck moving threat that no one else can match.

Brian: Sebastian Aho

I wasn’t expecting the run on centers in the early going, so my hand was kind of forced if I didn’t want, like, Victor Rask to be my top center. And I’d have waited even longer to take Aho if he wasn’t eligible to play in any forward slot, so I had to pounce before someone else took him for their wing. For a consolation prize, though, I don’t think it’s too bad.

Cody: Jaccob Slavin

I had hoped to have one of the few very high quality defesemen in Hurricanes history fall to me late in the second round. Luckily, one did and not just anyone - I’d argue the best defensive defenseman in Canes history. Slavin was an All-Star this season and should be in the conversation yearly for the Norris Trophy, if the Norris went to the best overall defenseman and not the highest scoring one. This pick gave me what I feel like is the top forward and top defender in Canes history solidifying the core of my lineup.