I think we all were expecting the Carolina Hurricanes’ pipeline to take more of a hit than it did. After all, with how the market was shaping up, it looked as if teams were going to have to pay a premium if they wanted to acquire high end talent at the deadline. Without a first round pick, the Hurricanes were likely going to have to utilize some of their prospects as trade chips if they wanted to make a trade work. And so they did. The Hurricanes traded Aidan Hreschuk to Columbus and Yegor Korshkov to Florida in a three team trade that brought Max Domi to Carolina. Let’s talk about each prospect that moved out and what the pipeline looks like in their absence.
Hreschuk and Left Defense
Hreschuk was drafted 94th overall in this past draft with the pick the Carolina Hurricanes acquired from the Alex Nedeljkovic trade. He played in his freshman season at Boston College and struggled on a rebuilding team. Boston College is usually known for having a deep team with loads of high end players, but this year was a bit of a down year for the Eagles. Their defense struggled, but Hreschuk improved early on. His skating and strong two way play were able to catch my eye a few times and I liked his physicality. I thought that Hreschuk had more to offer in the offensive zone, but if he wasn’t on the ice with the top line, there wasn’t much happening. Hreschuk was prone to the occasional blunder that wound up in his own net, which can be chalked up to growing pains as a prospect. Making the transition to the NCAA at 18 can be difficult, especially for prospects that are considered more raw projects. All in all, Hreschuk is a possible third pairing defenseman with the potential for more if he can discover his offensive game in college. There are some tools that Columbus can develop, but he seems to be at least four or five years away from the NHL at this present moment.
As for the effect on the pipeline, the Hurricanes don’t take much of a hit. Before the trade, I would have put Hreschuk behind players such as Jesper Sellgren, Alexander Nikishin, Ronan Seeley and Domenick Fensore. Hreschuk had the ability to jump past some of these players as his career went on and players left the system, but it would have been difficult. Not to mention the Hurricanes’ current roster depth at LHD that includes the likes of Jaccob Slavin, Brady Skjei, Ian Cole and Brendan Smith. So, even though Hreschuk may have had the potential to do more in this pipeline, the sheer amount of players ahead of him likely made the Hurricanes comfortable with moving him. Tyler Inamoto, acquired from Florida in the trade, is an interesting piece. If he signs with the Hurricanes, he’s likely behind all of those prospects. I’ve watched a handful of his games from the past season since the trade went down and I can say that he’s a stay at home defenseman capable of blocking a ton of shots. I don’t believe that his offensive game will show at the NHL level and he’s a third pairing defenseman at best if he reaches the NHL. But still, it’s a nice addition to the pipeline if the Hurricanes can get him to sign.
Yegor Korshkov and the Wing
Korshkov was acquired from the Maple Leafs when we traded Alex Galchenyuk last season. He had the opportunity to sign with the Hurricanes after last season but didn’t, leading me to believe that the Hurricanes were going to have difficulty signing him. To me, this isn’t much of a loss for the Hurricanes. It’s not an Adam Fox situation where you have a great player that won’t sign for your team. Korshkov has one NHL game under his belt and didn’t have a fantastic professional career before moving back to the KHL. If Korshkov can make it back to the NHL, it’s likely that he’ll be a depth forward. He showed that he could put the puck in the net, but I don’t know much else about his time with Toronto. And after last season, I stopped keeping up with him as a prospect.
The Hurricanes’ left wing depth is probably their weakest in the pipeline, with Patrik Puistola being the only natural left wing in the group. Jamieson Rees has played LW this season but is a natural center, showing that the Hurricanes’ depth at the position has room for improvement. Since I stopped keeping up with Korshkov after he did not sign with the Hurricanes, I can’t say that the pipeline has taken a hit. While it’s possible that he returns to the NHL with Florida, I can’t say that losing Korshkov will be that much of a hit to our overall prospect depth. The team still has an abundance of forward prospects overall, and even though they may not have as many left wingers in the pipeline, it’s still a top ten system in the league.
The Hurricanes kept their pipeline intact while adding a forward at the deadline, and that should be applauded. Without a first round pick, teams would have wanted to pry players such as Jack Drury, Scott Morrow or Ryan Suzuki from the team. The fact that the Hurricanes were able to trade their sixth best LHD prospect and a LW prospect that wasn’t going to play for the team ensures that the Hurricanes can improve while doing little to nothing to hurt the pipeline moving forward. Considering that other teams traded multiple first round picks or top prospects at the deadline, I’d say that the Hurricanes came out of the March 21st deadline relatively unscathed.