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Hurricanes prospects preseason recap

Jarvis, Rees and Drury are all close to the NHL while others showed signs of progress.

NHL: OCT 09 Hurricanes at Predators Photo by Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The deadline for NHL teams to finalize their rosters is Monday at 5 p.m. and the Hurricanes are close to finalizing their roster. This training camp, we’ve gotten a good look at prospects such as Seth Jarvis, Jamieson Rees and Jack Drury. With limited roster space, the Hurricanes will be hard pressed to find a spot for all three. Still, each of the three prospects have had encouraging moments that bode well for the future of the franchise. I’ll break down some of the major storylines from training camp from a prospects standpoint as well as a few other things that I noticed from camp.

Seth Jarvis is good, very good

Jarvis is so close to the NHL that you can almost taste it. His speed, decision making and offensive skills are all NHL ready and we’re seeing a potential star in the making. Jarvis should get a look in some NHL games this season, but the question is, how many? If Jarvis plays in fewer than nine games this season, his entry-level contract will slide and the Hurricanes will hold his rights for three years after this season. The Hurricanes have a tough decision to make here. Jarvis is close to being ready for a full time NHL role, but since he can’t play in the AHL this season, it’s either NHL or WHL. Is Jarvis ready for the full time role or will he go back to the WHL? Right now, I’m leaning towards Jarvis getting a handful of games in before heading back to Portland. There’s a lot of positive development in his game, but I believe that he still has some defensive lapses that need to be ironed out. When the Hurricanes played against a much more physical opponent, Jarvis struggled to play at a high level on a consistent basis. He was able to create some scoring chances, but he wasn’t as dominant as we have seen in prior games.

I strongly believe that Jarvis is going to be one of the faces of the future for the organization. It’s clear that Rod Brind’Amour is impressed with Jarvis’ play thus far and wants to give him the opportunity to play in the NHL this year. If Jarvis plays in more than nine games and struggles after that, the Hurricanes run the risk of slowing his development and potentially putting Jarvis in a role that he wasn’t ready for. If I’m wearing Rod Brind’Amour’s shoes, I’m giving Jarvis five games and reevaluating after that. If he’s earned another three or four games, give it to him and then send him back to Portland. Next season, Jarvis should be able to carve out a full time NHL role and potentially compete for the Calder.

Jack Drury is Jordan Staal, basically

I’ve been calling Drury “Diet Jordan Staal” for a while now, and it’s true. The two play very similarly and bring a lot of stability to the lineup. While Drury isn’t nearly as dynamic as some of the other prospects in the system, he brings value in a variety of other ways. Drury’s defensive play, pace, work in the faceoff circle and hockey sense are helping him pave the way to a possible NHL job. He’s the type of player that will thrive under Rod Brind’Amour because he’ll be given every opportunity to do so. Drury can play on the penalty kill and get minutes when the opponent pulls their goalie. In Carolina’s first preseason game against Tampa Bay, Drury made a key block with a few seconds remaining to seal the deal. The Hurricanes were up by two goals, but that effort and willingness to sacrifice the body goes a long way when you’re a prospect trying to make the team.

Drury is more suited for the roles that the Hurricanes have open right now, too. His two-way play makes him a perfect fit for a grinding third line as opposed to a player like Jarvis who will likely need top-six minutes in order to reach his full potential. The edge and snarl in Drury’s game has been a pleasant surprise in camp and I’m happy to see him mixing it up after the whistle. Drury plays a similar style to Jordan Staal and should have a long NHL career because of his reliable play. In fact, if I were to pick one prospect to make the NHL team and stay on the roster this season, my money would be on Drury.

Jamieson Rees is the best kind of irritating

Think of the player that you hate the most in the NHL. A good portion of you are thinking about Brad Marchand or Nazem Kadri, right? A few years from now, a lot of folks outside of the Hurricanes’ organization are going to be hating Jamieson Rees while he becomes a fan favorite in Raleigh. It’s not hard to see why, either. Rees gets under the skin of everyone that the opposition puts on the ice against him. Whether it’s through his physical play, his relentless aggression in the offensive zone, the shots he’ll take during and after play or an occasional chirp, he’ll find a way to irritate the opposition. It’s effective, too.

How many times have we seen Rees in the middle of a scrum or the victim of an opponent taking their frustrations out on him? People might remember how good Warren Foegele was at drawing penalties, and Rees draws those penalties for a lot of the same reasons. Both players worked their tails off in the offensive zone and got under their opponents’ skin while doing so. Those drawn penalties are effective (unless we’re the Hurricanes in the playoffs) by themselves, so throw in Rees’ offensive skills and you’re looking at a heck of a player.

Rees is a natural fit for the pro game because his physical play is already miles ahead of a lot of players his age. It’s part of the reason why he was able to adjust to the AHL so quickly as a 19-year-old. Rees’ style of play allows for him to thrive in the NHL preseason, as we saw with players such as Steven Lorentz and Julien Gauthier two years ago. Rees still has to work on rounding out his game and improve on his offensive decision making. Once again, Rees is another prospect that is close to the NHL and one that could easily see NHL games this season.

Suzuki and Keane are close

I’ve seen some Ryan Suzuki slander recently and I’m not going to stand for it. Plenty of prospects don’t make the NHL two years after being drafted, and none of those players have had to go through what Suzuki has had to go through these past two years. Suzuki went partially blind in one eye as a result of a high stick during the 2019-20 season and just as he was rounding a corner, the season got cancelled due to COVID-19. Flash forward ten months later and Suzuki is thrown into a league with better competition while only getting 26 games of experience along the way. It’s tough to be in his situation and I’m impressed with the progress that I have seen so far. Sure, I wish that I was able to see Suzuki take more of a charge in the offensive zone. I think that he has a long way to go in order to be the player he can be. But what I’m not going to do is sit here and say that Suzuki is a bust, because he isn’t at this point.

I’ve seen positive growth in Suzuki’s game. For starters, he is a much less passive player now than he was in his draft year. I’m starting to see the same edge and energy that his brother, Nick, brings every night for the Canadiens. He might not win any awards for his physicality, but the change in Suzuki’s game is something that will translate to the NHL, especially on Rod Brind’Amour’s team. Suzuki should have a strong season now that he knows the level he has to play at. He’ll get the opportunity to play with some veterans and hopefully continue to progress in all areas of his game. We’re still a little ways away from seeing Suzuki in the NHL, but I’m happy with his progress so far.

Speaking of being happy with a player’s progress, how about Joey Keane? He looks quicker and stronger defensively than he did last season, which bodes well for the future. I believe that Keane is another prospect that is close to seeing NHL games, similarly to Drury, but the Hurricanes have more of a logjam on defense. Instead of having Keane play seventh defenseman and play sparingly, they’re sending him to Chicago where he can continue to develop. It doesn’t do a player good to sit in the press box when you can send them down without having to worry about waivers, just ask Haydn Fleury. Joey Keane should see time on the Hurricanes’ third pairing in 2022 after the Hurricanes let some of the defensemen on one year deals walk in free agency. Now I’m of the belief that Keane could have quarterbacked the second power play unit better than Pesce, but I’m not comfortable with taking out Ethan Bear or Ian Cole for Keane. Brendan Smith is better suited for the seventh defenseman role because he isn’t missing out on development time.

The Hurricanes have a bright future and one that could be realized very soon. Jarvis could very well be another 70+ point player on the Hurricanes, Drury could be the next Jordan Staal and Rees, Suzuki and Keane could all have long careers for the Hurricanes. This training camp has shown the Hurricanes’ staff that it’s nearly time to let the youth movement take over once again.