It sure is nice when the Hurricanes give you things to write about. Ronan Seeley signed his entry-level contract (ELC) with the Hurricanes last week, so I figured that now is as good of a time as any to talk about the newest prospect under contract with the Hurricanes. I was able to attend the Prospects Showcase game against Nashville, where Seeley was one of the Hurricanes’ most reliable defensemen. I’m a little surprised that Seeley signed his ELC this early, but there’s no denying that he’s worth developing further. In this profile, I’ll break down Seeley’s game and give you all an idea as to why the Hurricanes are signing their seventh round pick less than a year after drafting him.
Seeley is one of the most reliable prospects that the Hurricanes have in terms of his play in the defensive zone. He’ll close gaps before players can move the puck further into the offensive zone, get in shooting and passing lanes and force turnovers at a high rate. Seeley makes it tough for opponents to get set up in the offensive zone and breaks up a lot of chances due to his near perfect defensive positioning. It’s frustrating to play against Seeley because he always seems to be in the right place to disrupt the play.
Working on the profile for Ronan Seeley and came across this play. Great defensive effort on a partial three on one pic.twitter.com/QoIOHkhcNe— Canes Prospects (@CanesProspects) September 25, 2021
Seeley calmly defends a rush in which he was vastly outnumbered, preventing the Tri-City Americans from getting a shot on goal in the process. Breaking up this play is just one example of how Seeley defends. He has a strong understanding of the game in the defensive zone, which is evident in both the play above and the following clip.
He's excellent in his own end and one of the more reliable defensemen on his team pic.twitter.com/e6xm4p3gXd— Canes Prospects (@CanesProspects) September 25, 2021
A perfectly-timed stick lift prevents a decent scoring chance in a different game against Tri-City. What you can say about Seeley is that he’s consistent and reliable. He’s always going to make the right play, even if the right play doesn’t stand out or wow you. The little things matter, especially in the defensive zone. Lifting a player’s stick without taking a penalty, timing your blocks, sealing off a play along the wall and more are all incredibly important for a defenseman.
More work on the Ronan Seeley profile. He adapts to the play and has another nice stick lift. pic.twitter.com/lNIMDkr5Pl— Canes Prospects (@CanesProspects) September 27, 2021
“Defensive IQ” is a phrase that gets tossed around a bit and it applies in this clip. Seeley is assessing where the puck could go and once the pass gets close, he immediately turns to lift the stick, leading to a takeaway and a zone exit. It’s another example of how Seeley can take away any sort of offense in the defensive zone.
I don’t have a clip from the Prospects Showcase, so allow for me to explain why Seeley stood out against Nashville. Nashville brought an experienced roster to the prospects showcase and Seeley was able to look like a professional player while defending against players much older than him. His speed stood out and allowed for him to close off a lot of plays along the boards. Before, I hadn’t thought of Seeley as a strong player, but his physical play and work along the boards against Nashville made him look like a seasoned veteran. Seeley was the Hurricanes’ best defenseman in terms of defensive play against Nashville, which is no small feat. Players such as Sellgren and Keane both have professional experience, so the fact that Seeley played up to par with those guys is impressive to say the least.
Seeley’s effectiveness both in the defensive zone and in transition comes from his elite skating speed. He plays at a high pace and his straight line speed makes him one of the fastest defensemen in the Hurricanes’ pipeline. It’s a poised, smooth stride and he can get up to his top speed after a few steps. In today’s NHL, if you can’t skate, you get left behind. It’s why even some of the more talented AHL prospects fail to cut it in the NHL. The Hurricanes play with a ton of pace and Seeley fits the mold given how good of a skater he is.
Speed affects all facets of his game in positive ways. He’ll be able to close gaps quickly as I’ve mentioned earlier. Seeley can join the rush and carry the puck in transition. He’s confident when walking the line and excels at cycling the puck in his own end. The pace at which Seeley plays will help carry him to the NHL, in my opinion. The hustle on this following play is what I’m talking about.
Seeley races back, forces a board battle, wins it and initiates a breakout. pic.twitter.com/8ThrNoKRet— Canes Prospects (@CanesProspects) September 28, 2021
This type of hustle will make Seeley a Brind’Amour favorite. Not only does he force the board battle, but he wins it and gets the puck to someone who can make an exit pass. Here’s another clip that highlights Seeley’s straight line speed.
Here's Seeley's speed on full display pic.twitter.com/96443JGsKa— Canes Prospects (@CanesProspects) September 28, 2021
This clip is a part of the reason why I believe that Seeley could be fun carrying the puck in transition. He’s quick and knows what to do with the puck, making it possible to enter the zone and either create a scoring chance or a possession that results in a shot.
Over the past year, I’ve watched Seeley gain confidence in his abilities in the offensive zone. He’s a confident passer and is starting to use his shot as a way to create offensive opportunities. This play is an example of some of what I’m seeing emerge in his game.
I mentioned a while ago that Seeley was starting to gain more confidence with the puck on his stick. Here's a quick example. pic.twitter.com/gCWAGlFR1H— Canes Prospects (@CanesProspects) September 28, 2021
Again, it’s a very small sample, but it’s something I was seeing more often as the season went along. Given a full season to develop, it’s possible that we see Seeley become a good to great puck carrier. I’m inclined to believe that this will be the case. Seeley wasn’t played in a major role during his draft year and continued to get better. Given top-four minutes and a more prominent role on Everett’s power play, Seeley’s offensive game was allowed to develop. He looked to be a confident player manning the point on the power play, too. So the potential is there, it’s just a matter of getting the opportunity to develop it.
Projectable Tools and Summary
Seeley’s game is best defined as reliable. He does all of the little things right and won’t take a shift off, giving you a defenseman that you can trust in any situation, big or small. Seeley isn’t a flashy player and won’t thrill you with massive hits or bursts of skill in the offensive zone, but he’s going to play a shut down role and occasionally chip in some offense when he needs to. There’s value in that. With Seeley being such a reliable player, I project him as a reliable two-way defenseman that can spend time on your third pairing. He’ll see time on the penalty kill often and the occasional power-play shift.
There’s no question that Seeley has NHL speed. He plays at an NHL pace and makes an impact in all three zones due to his elite skating. He’ll shut down a lot of offense and seal off plays before they get started, something that should also translate to the NHL. The offensive side of his game is still developing, so one more season in juniors should give us more of an idea as to how his offensive game will project at the NHL level. Right now, I’d say that Seeley is capable of 20+ points on the back end in a season. It’s a respectable amount that could grow if Seeley takes some major strides this season.
I’m amazed that the Hurricanes were able to get this much value from a seventh round pick. Not only did they draft a player with NHL speed, they were able to draft a player with strong two way play and NHL upside. NHL teams might regret passing up on Seeley if he’s developed properly. The Hurricanes have excelled at drafting in the later rounds in recent years, putting an emphasis on upside and NHL tools in order to build one of the deepest pipelines in the entire NHL. Seeley is a fine addition to the Hurricanes’ pipeline and I’m looking forward to keeping up with him this season.