The NHL Draft is always one of the most exciting dates on the NHL calendar, as teams add youth into their organization in hopes to set up for the future. Over the years, Hurricanes have made it an organizational goal to build through the draft, and have developed a lot of their promising youth in the process.
However, the 2022 NHL Draft very well may be a bit different for the Hurricanes than the usual. As things currently stand, the team is set to head onto the First Round evening’s draft floor without owning a first-round pick for the first time since 2006 — which gives this year’s draft experience a little less mystique.
Despite the lack of their coveted pick — which they relinquished in the Jesperi Kotkaniemi offer sheet — the Canes do have eight picks in this draft, and have become well-known for their propensity to trade back. They could easily end up with more than eight picks by the time things are all said and done. But for now, let’s stick with what they currently have and take a look at some potential prospects that could join the organization next month.
2nd Round, 60th Overall
RW Gleb Trikozov [Omsk, MHL]
It’s extremely possible that Trikozov won’t still be available when the Hurricanes make their first selection, but the black cloud hanging over Russian-based prospects makes this a very intriguing draft. As far as the player goes, Trikozov has good size and a very heavy shot. He has good vision and puck skills, and while he’s predominantly a finisher, he’s a guy that can create in a variety of ways. He’s super well rounded, which I believe should give him a good floor at the NHL level. He’s a borderline first-round talent that’s in danger of slipping down the board, and despite the question marks, I can’t see the Canes passing on him if he’s still available.
3rd Round, 71st Overall
D Kasper Kulonummi [Jokerit U20, Finland]
We all know how much the Hurricanes love their Finns — so this is a very on-brand pick. Kulonummi is a smooth skating defender with good size, and he plays a very well-rounded game. He really impressed me at the U18 World Juniors. He was an assistant captain for his Finnish team and was a key contributor for them. He stood out as an efficient puck mover, and looked to be a really smart player defensively with tight gaps, smart pinches and a rugged approach. I don’t think he’s very flashy, but his style kind of reminded me of a smaller Brett Pesce type player. I feel like he’s being a bit overlooked because of the lack of a real “wow” factor in his game, but he looks to be a good prospect with a strong chance of translating his game to pro hockey.
4th Round, 124th Overall
F Antonin Verreault [Hull, QMJHL]
Antonin Verreault is a kid I like a lot. Playing for my local Hull Olympiques, I’ve watched him live numerous times and I always come away impressed. Similarly to Verreault, I practically begged the Canes to draft Olympiques forward Zach Dean last year — who went in the first round to Vegas — so my hope is that Carolina will right the ship with Verreault. I feel like he’s a kid being overlooked because of his lack of size as a 5-foot-8, 160-pound winger, but he has time to grow and add muscle.
He’s a shifty, elusive skater with great vision and exceptional puck-handling skills. After winning the QMJHL Rookie of the Year Award last season, I expected him to take a larger step forward but he was snake-bit on a team with super balanced scoring. He had 46 points in 56 games (after leading the team with 29 points in 31 games last season), and had first-round hype before the season started His stock has fallen because he’s an offensive winger that didn’t explode offensively, but the proper tools are there for him to succeed in the future. I think he’s a potential steal, but he needs to add a bit more of a physical element to his game if he wants that chance. But at this stage of the draft, he’s a no-brainer. Here’s what he can do:
5th Round, 156th Overall
F Tucker Robertson [Peterborough, OHL]
An overager who went undrafted in 2021, teams won’t make the mistake of letting Robertson skip away again. He broke out offensively for the Petes this season, putting up 41 goals and 81 points in 68 games. His best attribute, though, is his tenacity. He’s an extremely scrappy, annoying, physical, pain-in-the-arse type presence despite being on the smaller side at 5-10, 190. I feel his play style gives him a really strong chance to become an NHLer down the road, even if his offense doesn’t translate to the pro level. He joined the Hurricanes prospect camp last summer as an invitee, so the team is already familiar with the player, and obviously felt highly enough about him to invite him in for a look.
6th Round, 171st Overall
D Ludvig Jansson [Sodertalje, Sweden]
A 6-foot-0, 176-pound defenseman, Ludvig Jansson seems like a prototypical Canes pick. At age 17, he played 47 games in the Swedish second tier [Allsvenskan] this past season, although scouts seem to have a bit of a mixed grade on him. I haven’t personally watched him live, but from the reports I’ve read and tape I watched he’s billed as more of an offensive D. On tape, he looks very patient and smart with the puck, and moves very fluidly. If he’s available this late in the draft, taking a flier on him is a no-brainer as he continues his development in Sweden.
6th Round, 188th Overall
G Karlis Mezsargs [Riga, MHL]
I feel like an NHL team would be doing itself a disservice by not using at least one pick on a goaltender in every draft, considering how important the position is and how voodoo goaltenders can be. At the stage of the draft, you’re banking on upside. Mezsargs is 6-foot-2, 185 pounds and had decent success as a 17-year old in the MHL last season. In all honesty, I know nothing about him. But the last Latvian goaltender the Hurricanes employed did pretty good — Arturs Irbe — remember that guy? So I’m more than willing to take a gamble here.
7th Round, 205th Overall
LW Yegor Sidorov [Saskatoon, WHL]
Sidorov is a guy that I tracked for a majority of the WHL season. He’s a Belarusian WHL import, and another solid prospect from a Belarus program that has began producing a lot of talent in recent years. I’m not sure where Sidorov will land on draft day, but I believe he’ll probably be a late-round guy. He moves well and has a great shot and release, and he buried 23 goals in 58 games for Saskatoon this season. He stands to improve as he continues to adapt to North American hockey, but as of now his physicality and defensive game is a bit of a work in progress. Regardless, I think he has some skills worth developing, especially because he can consistently put the puck in the net.
7th Round, 220th Overall
F Marcus Nguyen [Portland, WHL]
My dear friend and fellow Canes Country writer Matthew Somma would never have let me hear the end of it if I didn’t select Nguyen in this draft. If you haven’t been keeping up — Nguyen has basically become Matt’s version of my Haydn Fleury. Here’s his analysis:
“Elite skating and hockey sense. Fantastic and exciting puck skills. Excels at turning defense into offense. Should break out next year as his role increases.”
He also said that Nguyen was the single most exciting player he watched in the WHL this season — so I guess I’m on board.