The Carolina Hurricanes boast one of the richest and deepest prospect pools in the NHL.
The organization has done a remarkable job of scouting and drafting players, they have a nice blend of skill, skating, grit, and size throughout the organization as well as good positional balance.
The team has also shown patience with developing players, allowing them time to season in lower levels before thrusting them into an advanced league they are not ready for.
Their AHL affiliate has changed from Charolette to Chicago during the pandemic season last year where they shared affiliation with the Nashville Predators. That time-sharing situation limited both teams, but moving forward Carolina and Chicago will be exclusive, allowing the Canes to fill the Wolves roster with their own players.
Carolina has seen a lot of turn-over on both the NHL and minors roster over the past few seasons as they juggle contracts, expansion, and their impressive depth.
While some of their prospects have failed to develop (Yegor Korshkov and Stelio Mattheos). Despite losing several prospects such as Jake Bean, Alex Nedeljkovic, Morgan Geekie, Lukas Wallmark and many more, they still boast a deep top ten and multiple honorable mentions that would easily make many other teams top ten.
2021-22 Top 10 Carolina Hurricanes Prospects
- Seth Jarvis, C/RW – Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
Drafted: 2020 round one, 13th overall by Carolina Hurricanes
The HUrricanes’ top prospect with a bullet is the highly skilled Jarvis. After going in the first round to Carolina, Jarvis went straight to the AHL while the WHL was on hold. He lit it up in Chicago with seven goals and 11 points in only nine games. Once the dub resumed, he was returned to Portland and finished with 27 points in 24 games. Jarvis will have one more year of CHL to play if he fails to make the Canes roster.
He was the most impressive player at the rookie camp and will try to carry that momentum into the regular training camp to win a job. While I can see him starting the year in Carolina, I can not see him in more than nine games before heading back to junior for the balance of the season. Jarvis has a high level of skill, skating ability, and vision that should see him in the Canes top-six in the not-too-distant future.
- Ryan Suzuki, C – Chicago Wolves (AHL)
Drafted: 2019 round one, 28th overall by Carolina Hurricanes
The season began for Suzuki at the World Junior with Canada where he won a Silver Medal while posting four points in seven games. With no OHL to play in, he began his pro career in the AHL. His first two games were pointless but then he quickly adjusted and went on a four-game point streak, and had a second four-game streak in March/April before going pointless in his final nine games.
Suzuki is a strong skater and a playmaker first. He can be deceptive but lacks a physical element to his game. Adding some weight to his 6-0 frame would help. Suzuki will need another year in the AHL at least before he is ready to play in the top-six with Carolina, and the Canes will be patient with him.
- Jack Drury, C – Vaxjo Lakers HC (SHL)
Drafted: 2018 round two, 42nd overall by Carolina Hurricanes
Drury had a great NCAA career with Harvard, posting 63 points in 60 games. But when the Ivy League shut down, his college career ended and he signed in the SHL with Vaxjo. As a rookie, he produced 30 points in 41 games, was runner up to William Eklund for rookie of the year. He scored another 11 points in 14 playoff games en route to a SHL Championship. Drury also represented Team USA at the World Championship, with two goals in nine games earning a Bronze Medal.
Drury will return to North America and is expected to play most of his games in the AHL given the Canes NHL depth. Given his proven offensive ability and his reliability defensively, look for Drury to be the first player recalled when an injury occurs.
- Jamieson Rees, C – Chicago Wolves (AHL)
Drafted: 2019 round two, 44th overall by Carolina Hurricanes
Rees has been a steady developing player for Carolina, moving up the depth chart, and maybe ranked too low on this list. He is a burner and uses his speed and playmaking ability to be dangerous on the rush. He is also a tenacious player with a high compete level. While not overly aggressive he is a little physical, but takes some bad penalties and needs to clean that up.
Another OHL refugee last year, he played as an underaged player in Chicago with Suzuki on a third line checking role posting 14 points in 29 games with 47 penalty minutes. Rees will be returning to Chicago and will enjoy more playing time on an elevated role. Rees may not end up in the Canes top-six down the road, but he would be an outstanding third-line player, that plays with an edge and can provide plenty of supporting offense.
- Joey Keane, D – Chicago Wolves (AHL)
Drafted: 2018 round three, 88th overall by New York Rangers
Acquired in a trade for power forward Julien Gauthier in a deal that helped both organizations balance positional depth. Keane is now the Hurricanes top D prospect. The departure of Jake Bean to Columbus improves his stock. The 22-year-old is now an AHL veteran with 82 games under his belt with 50 points in that span. Keane will return to the AHL for one more season as the Wolves top defender to round out his game.
With 32-year-olds Ian Cole and Brendan Smith on expiring contracts and a lot of uncertainty surrounding Anthony Deangelo, Keane will be playing in the NHL sooner than later and could have a shot at seeing time on the power play when he arrives.
- Dominik Bokk, RW/LW – Chicago Wolves (AHL)
Drafted: 2018 round one, 25th overall by the St. Louis Blues.
The big German goal scorer made the move to North America after developing in Sweden in the SHL for three seasons. The start of the year was brutal for Bokk, posting three points in 20 games with Djurgardens of the SHL. However, he rebounded well after coming to the AHL producing nine goals and 18 points in 29 games with the Wolves. He was one of their top players and with the split affiliation over in Chicago, he will play an even bigger role.
Bokk is a big winger at 6-2 but not a power forward. He is strong on the puck and has soft hands. He owns a hard and dangerous shot and can score from a variety of positions in a variety of ways. The 21-year-old will see a full season in the AHL and could be a contender for an NHL job the following season.
- Pyotr Kochetkov, G – Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (KHL)
Drafted: 2019 round two, 36th overall by Carolina Hurricanes
Once considered to be a lock for the Canes top goalie prospect and future starter, the rise of Jack Lafontaine and his stagnant production in the KHL is jeopardizing that stature. Kochetkov struggled in the 2019-20 season losing playing time with SKA St. Petersburg to veterans Magnus Hellberg and Alexi Melnichuk and was traded to Vityaz Podolsk where he struggled to find playing time as well. After struggling there he was again moved to Torpedo with similar results.
In the past two seasons, he has played in 33 games, on seven different teams in the KHL and VHL. Despite his struggles, Carolina signed him to an ELC but rather than bring him to North America to play, he was immediately loaned back to Torpedo in the KHL. Still, only 22-years-old playing in the KHL as a goalie in a league not well renowned for developing prospects, Carolina hopes Kochetkov can develop into their starting goalie within the next two to three years.
- Jack Lafontaine, G – University of Minnesota (NCAA)
Drafted: 2016 round three, 75th overall by Carolina Hurricanes
The Golden Gopher had a breakout senior season posting an eye-popping 1.79 GAA, with a 22-7-0 record and five shutouts. His performance won him the Mike Richter Award as NCAA’s top goalie, and a nomination for the Hobey Baker as the top player overall.
Lafontaine announced his intention to return to the Golden Gophers for his fifth season and third at Minnesota for the upcoming season. This is a COVID exception rule and next year he will either be signed by the Canes or become a free agent in mid-August. The play of Beck Warm in the AHL and if Kochetkov comes to North America next year may have a lot to do if the Canes commit a contract spot to Lafontaine.
- Scott Morrow, D – Shattuck St. Mary’s (USHS-Prep)
Drafted: 2021 round two, 40th overall by Carolina Hurricanes
The Canes lacked a first-round pick and so Morrow was the team’s first pick in the second round of the 2021 draft. It can be difficult to gauge a player’s talent when they are playing at a level as low as Morrow played last year. But in any league producing well over a point per game as a defenseman is impressive.
Morrow is an excellent skater already, it is the biggest asset in his arsenal. Morrow is a very offensively-minded and gifted player. He makes transition play happen quickly and seemingly effortlessly. Committed to Umass for his freshman season in the NCAA and at 18-years-old will play two or three seasons there working on his game. If he can translate his skills at each level as he develops, he has big-time potential.
- Tuukka Tieksola, LW – Karpat (Liiga)
Drafted: 2019 round four, 121st overall by Carolina
The highly skilled and silky smooth Tieksola had a good season in Liiga as a U20 player. His 18 points ranked sixth for U20 players and it earned him a contract with the Canes. He has been loaned back to Karpat for the season where he hopes to play a bigger role and improve his production and overall game in his second full season. Next year he should cross over to the AHL to adjust and further develop in the Canes system.
He has excellent offensive vision, good deception, and soft hands. His top-end speed is an asset at the Liiga level and he is not shy about getting physical. His exclusion from the Finnish WJC roster is a red flag, but the upside is that of a top-six NHL winger in the two or three seasons.
David Cotton – After four very good years at Boston College, the big Texan made his pro debut in Chicago and led the team in scoring with 14 goals. Cotton is a big center that always makes an impact in the game, either on the score sheet, by winning draws or playing a physical game. At 24-years-old he should get a hard look at making the team next year.
Vasili Ponomaryov – Already adjusted to North America after two seasons in Shawinigan, Ponomaryov remains unsigned and will play in Russia. After starting in the VHL and posting four points in five games, he was recalled to the KHL. Unfortunately there he is only averaging less than two minutes of ice time per game. It would be a shame if he wasted a season of development in the KHL at this stage of his career.
Noel Gunler – Hard not to have the sniper inside the top ten. Gunler is dependent on teammates to set him up for the shot. His ability to find open ice and get a quick release and a well-placed shot makes him a dangerous player.
Patrik Puistola – The sniper has struggled to fill the net in his three years in the Liiga, but his 2020 WJC performance of five goals and eight points in seven games suggests patience. Playing another season for JYP, the 20-year-old needs to show signs of improvement if he has hopes of crossing to North America and work his way into the NHL. A work in progress, but there is potential here.
Zion Nybeck – Another goal-scoring winger, Nybeck needs to work on his skating as he tries to break into the pro level. Several years away, but very likely to be ranked inside the top ten list as soon as next year. He is a prospect on the rise.
Aleksi Heimosalmi – The team’s second of three second-round picks in the 2021 Draft is an offensive defenseman with a good shot and power play quarterback ability.
Ville Koivunen – The third of three second-round picks, Koivunen is a very underrated player and a big sleeper in this rankings. The 18-year-old had 10 points in seven games at the U-18 and as a rookie in Liiga for Karpat, he already has two goals in five games. The skilled winger can score, make plays, has great vision and IQ, competes very hard, and is a good skater. His toolbox checks all the boxes he just needs development time to put it all together.
Stelio Mattheos – Remember him? His career was derailed by injuries and a battle with cancer, but he appears to be healthy again and could play a regular middle-six role in the AHL as an agitator on a checking line. It would be a great story if he got back on track.
Ronan Seeley – Was impressive at rookie camp and earned his ELC with the club. The defensive defenseman will play a big role with Everett in the WHL and try to develop his offensive game.
Patrik Hamrla – The Czech goalie was impressive in the Prospects Showcase and will be making the move to North America to play in the QMJHL. This is a prospect to keep an eye on.