The Carolina Hurricanes are coming off of a great season. While they were a Bunch of Jerks according to Don Cherry, they managed to put together a solid playoff run. Sebastian Aho, Jaccob Slavin and Teuvo Teravainen helped power the Hurricanes past the Washington Capitals and the New York Islanders. Unfortunately for Hurricanes fans, they failed to get past the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Finals.
This is not the end for the Hurricanes. They have plenty left of the tank and they have quite a few prospects in their system who they will be able to call upon down the road.
1. Martin Necas, C/RW, Charlotte Checkers (AHL) & Carolina Hurricanes (NHL)
Drafted: 12th overall in the 2017 draft by the Carolina Hurricanes
The Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic native had a great season with the Charlotte Checkers last season. In 64 games played, he recorded 16 goals and 36 assists. In addition, Necas was featured in 7 games for the Carolina Hurricanes. During the 7 game stint, he recorded his first career NHL goal and grabbed an assist.
When you watch game tape of Necas, you quickly see just how special the 20-year-old is. He has great hands and his passing is elite. If Necas has the puck on his stick, you can expect him to find gaps and exploit them. He will make his opposition pay as he fires lasers to his teammates. In addition, Necas has been known for his speed. Depending on how training camp shakes out, he could be on the opening night roster for the Carolina Hurricanes.
2. Ryan Suzuki, C, Barrie Colts (OHL)
Drafted: 28th overall in the 2019 draft by the Carolina Hurricanes
Ryan Suzuki is the younger brother of Montréal Canadiens prospect Nick Suzuki. While Nick was able to help power the Guelph Storm to the Memorial Cup in Halifax, Ryan did not have a bad season himself. In 65 games played with the Barrie Colts, Suzuki had tallied 25 goals and 50 assists.
When Suzuki scores, most of his goals come from right in front of the net. Suzuki finds lanes and creates space for himself at an efficient rate. In addition, he uses his hockey IQ to find open lanes for him to make quick swift passes through. Suzuki is also rather effective in transition. He does not make many errors with the puck and is highly dependable. His skating is impressive as well. Suzuki has a strong first step and nifty edge-work that allows him to move along the offensive zone un-harmed.
3. Stelio Mattheos, RW/C, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL) & Charlotte Checkers (AHL)
Drafted: 73rd overall in the 2017 draft by the Carolina Hurricanes
Last season, Mattheos played the bulk of his season with the Brandon Wheat Kings, in which he recorded 44 goals and 52 assists in 65 games. Following the conclusion of the Wheat Kings season, he joined the Charlotte Checkers for the remaining of the AHL campaign. Mattheos was featured in 11 games for the Checkers and tallied 3 points.
Mattheos is a strong skater. He has excellent feet work and his crossovers are on point. Mattheos has a tremendous amount of speed and he will often utilize his speed to evade potential puck battles. In addition, he has a great shot. His backhand and wrist shots are outstanding. While Mattheos might need a full season or two in the AHL, he will be an asset for the Hurricanes in the future. He has proven to be a rather effective sniper and could potentially be a strong fit with Martin Necas.
4. Julien Gauthier, RW, Charlotte Checkers (AHL)
Drafted: 21st overall in the 2016 draft by the Carolina Hurricanes
Julien Gauthier is a solid power forward and has drawn comparisons to former New York Rangers, Columbus Blue Jackets and Boston Bruins forward Rick Nash. Gauthier has a nose for the net and he’s creative with his skating and speed. Gauthier will run you ragged. He also has great hands and is equipped with a nasty shot.
Last season, Gauthier played in 75 games with the Checkers. He managed to muster up 27 goals and 14 assists. He was able to improve and further his development during his second season in the AHL.
5. Jake Bean, D, Charlotte Checkers (AHL) & Carolina Hurricanes (NHL)
Drafted: 13th overall in the 2016 draft by the Carolina Hurricanes
Bean had a great campaign with the Charlotte Checkers. In 70 games played in Charlotte, he totaled 13 goals and 31 assists. In addition, he played in 15 playoff games and tallied 5 points (1 goal and 4 assists). Not too shabby for Bean.
The former Calgary Hitman defenseman has quite a bit of offensive talent. He is an asset on the power-play as he has a deadly shot from the point. In addition, Bean is great in transition. The only small flaw with Bean is his skating. In particular, his backwards skating is a tad slow and he can out-muscled by speedy forwards.
6. Alex Nedeljkovic, G, Charlotte Checkers (AHL) & Carolina Hurricanes (NHL)
Drafted: 37th overall in the 2014 draft by the Carolina Hurricanes
Alex Nedeljkovic has yet to crack the Carolina Hurricanes lineup full-time, but he is on the brink. Nedeljkovic is coming off of an impressive season, in which he posted a 2.26 GAA and a .916 SV% in 51 games played.
The Parma, Ohio native has an excellent glove. Nedeljkovic has the hands of Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick and Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask. Additionally, he has excellent reflexes, he will go from standing up to his knees at a fast rate. Throughout his development, he has proven to be a strong butterfly goaltender.
7. Janne Kuokkanen, LW/C, Charlotte Checkers (AHL) & Carolina Hurricanes (NHL)
Drafted: 43rd overall in the 2016 draft by the Carolina Hurricanes
Last season, the Oulunsalo, Finland native spent the bulk of his time in the AHL with the Charlotte Checkers. In 48 games played, Kuokkanen recorded 12 goals and 26 assists. He also played in 7 games for the Carolina Hurricanes but failed to get onto the scoreboard. To date, Kuokkanen has played in 11 games with the Hurricanes throughout his career and has no points to show for it.
Kuokkanen reminds me of Toronto Maple Leafs forward Kasperi Kapanen. The two Finnish forwards have quality speed, a drive to pounce on the net and swift puck movement. In addition, Kuokkanen has a beastly shot. There is a lot to like about Kuokkanen.
8. Patrik Puistola, LW/RW, Tappara (Liiga)
Drafted: 73rd overall in the 2019 draft by the Carolina Hurricanes
Patrik Puistola was a steal for the Carolina Hurricanes in the third round of this year’s NHL entry draft. Puistola has a sneaky 360 degree spin move that he showcased at the 2019 IIHF U18 World Juniors. Puistola has outstanding stick handling and moves the puck from side-to-side efficiently to throw off his opposition. He also has a great shot and always is hungry to score.
This past season, Puistola played for Tappara U20 in the Jr. A SM-liiga, Tappara in the Liiga and LeKi in the Mestis. He had quite a bit of success in the Jr. A SM-liiga and the Mestis, but his time in the Liiga was not so great. He wasn’t effective in his 16 game stint. Perhaps, next season, he will be a bit better when he suits up for Tappara.
9. Jack Drury, C, Harvard University (NCAA)
Drafted: 42nd overall in the 2018 draft by the Carolina Hurricanes
Drury is the son of Ted Drury and the nephew of Chris Drury. His family has had plenty of success in the NHL and it is now Jack’s turn to showcase his talents on the big stage. Currently, Drury plays for Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts and was the teammate of former Carolina Hurricanes prospect/now New York Rangers prospect Adam Fox. He is coming off of his first season with the Harvard Crimson and he totaled 24 points (9 goals and 15 assists) in 32 games.
Drury is a point-and-shoot forward. There are of course assists in which he will find an open winger and pass the puck over, but there are quite a few primary assists that are created off of rebounds. In addition, Drury does a great job at finding open lanes and will plant himself in low traffic areas. He is also hungry for puck battles and will be a pest if you have your hands on the puck.
10. Pyotr Kochetkov, G, HK Sochi (KHL) & HK Ryazan (VHL)
Drafted: 36th overall in the 2019 draft by the Carolina Hurricanes
The Kazan, Russia native truly blossomed at the World Juniors. In 5 games played, he posted a 1.45 GAA and a .953 SV%. He was unbeatable and quickly caught the attention of scouts and draft analysts. After his performance at the World Juniors, he began to skyrocket up draft rankings. In addition, he had quite a bit of success in the VHL this season with HK Ryazan. In 18 games with HK Ryazan, he recorded a 2.13 GAA and a .930 SV%. Also, he was rather impressive in his two games in the KHL this past season with HK Sochi and will likely play in the KHL full-time next season with SKA St. Petersburg.
Kochetkov is an outstanding hybrid goaltender. He goes from side to side extremely well and his reflexes are some of the best that I’ve seen in a long time. It does not matter how much traffic is parking in front of him, he will shut down scoring chance after scoring chance. There is a lot to like about Kochetkov and Carolina fans should be very excited about the possibility of him crossing the Atlantic at some point to play in Raleigh.
stats from eliteprospects.com