From now until the start of next season, I’ll be looking at each NHL team’s prospect situation and assessing each prospect’s projected fantasy value. With all due respect to turnover leagues, I will be focusing solely on keeper and dynasty leagues, because prospects have minimal value in re-draft leagues. Most fantasy leagues vary in structure, so for the purpose of this exercise, I will be referring to leagues that include a main roster and a prospect roster, each with their own respective draft. Last week, we got a week of recess.
This week we move up to the 21st-placed Carolina Hurricanes
Unfortunately, it was a year of “almost” for Hurricanes fans. There were rumors about trades, and in the end, Carolina missed the playoffs. They brought in Scott Darling and have kept their defensive core intact. There is much promise for the current roster, which makes it easier on prospects.
The Hurricanes are also fortunate because of their ample amount of draft picks over the next several years. They started the process this season. Their eight picks in the draft began to bolster their prospect pool. Carolina gave up picks for a new starting goalie. This was because the Hurricanes deemed Cam Ward and Eddie Lack as not starter worthy. There were enough scorers and promise on defense that people think this could be a playoff team in 2017-18.
Now to present the prospects.
1. Nicholas Roy, C
Age: 20 H/W: 6’4″/208 pounds.
Drafted: Round 4, Pick 96 in 2015 by Carolina
2016-17 Team: Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)
53 GP, 36 G, 44 A, 80 Pts,+30, 46 PIM
Roy was fun to watch for Chicoutimi last season. He is a young forward that probably went too late in his draft year. As a result, the Hurricanes got a real gem in the power forward. Roy is hard to drive off the puck and has a real nose for the net. His physicality gives him a versatility the Hurricanes could use.
He may start off in Charlotte at the AHL level. On the other hand, do not be surprised if Roy gets called up at some point. Size, skill, and just enough speed to even keep NHL defenders honest. That is a rare triumvirate to possess. It is almost a certainty that Roy flourishes in Charlotte. The pivot has first or second line potential in the NHL and could be a boost to the Hurricanes power play down the road.
2. Julian Gauthier, RW
Age: 19 H/W: 6’4″/ 225 pounds.
Drafted: Round 1, Pick 21 in 2016 by Carolina
2016-17 Team: Val D’or / Saint John Sea Dogs
43 GP, 17 G, 34 A, 51 Pts, +12, 40 PIM.
Gauthier was almost a power playmaker in the QMJHL. What would happen in Charlotte? That is the big question. Previous seasons saw him be a more prolific scorer. So, which is it? Was last year a fluke? Do the goals return when he starts playing in the AHL?
The key will be for Gauthier to score goals. His lower body is strong, and so is the upper body, too. The Hurricanes prospect could shield players well and create chances from there. If he can play well in front of the net, Charlotte will have a nice power play weapon. No one is saying Carolina will call him up right away, but do not rule it out. A soon to be 20-year-old who already is the size of guys like Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf? There is much potential with Gauthier.
3. Jake Bean, D
Age: 19 H/W: 6’1″/172 pounds.
Drafted: Round 1, Pick 12 in 2016 by Carolina
2016-17 Team: Calgary Hitmen (WHL)
43 GP, 8 G, 37 A, 45 Pts, -2, 14 PIM
Bean dropped off a bit for Calgary in 2016-17. He had 45 points in 43 games, but the Hurricanes prospect had only eight goals. That was compared to 24 the year before in 68 games. Injury did play a role, so do expect a better 2017-18.
As he gains more experience, the Hurricanes defenseman may be able to turn some heads in training camp. Bean might be a year or two away. Honestly, defensive ability at an NHL level is still a bit of a question mark. Some high-pressure situations make Bean disappear a bit, but for the most part, he is assertive. With Carolina’s core defense, Bean has time.
4. Aleksi Saarela, C/LW
Age: 20 H/W: 5’11″/ 199 pounds.
Drafted: Round 3, Pick 89 in 2015 by New York Rangers
2016-17 Team: Lukko (Loan) / Charlotte Checkers (AHL)
9 GP, 6 G, 4 A, 10 PTS, 2 PIM, +7
Saarela has enjoyed a solid progression and the luxury of not being rushed in the Carolina system. The Hurricanes prospect will play in their AHL affiliate (Charlotte) for the 2017-18 season. His successful ten game stint has Carolina fans hoping for more of the same over a larger sample size.
The forward’s best opportunity is a depth role in Carolina. Saarela must execute better at the next level. Again, his late-season burst in Charlotte has to lead to more steps forward. His low center of gravity serves him well near the net and in the corners. The Hurricanes could have themselves a good depth player with some offensive upside in the future.
5. Martin Necas, C/RW
Age: 18 H/W: 6’1″/ 179 pounds.
Drafted: Round 1, Pick 12 in 2017 by Carolina
2016-17 Team: HC Kometa Brno (Czech)
41 GP, 7 G, 8 A, 15 PTS, 6 PIM, -2
Necas plays the game with a little flair. This gets the Hurricanes forward into trouble sometimes, but he makes more positive than negative. Understand that the player was up against adults and he was only 17.
That will be the key to the Hurricanes’ future development. Necas has to be given room to grow, as he is a bit of a project (3-4 years, maybe). However, expect him to be in Charlotte in two. Once the pivot gains some muscle mass without sacrificing too much speed, then look out. Necas is not afraid to go into traffic, so it would not take much. He just needs time.
Prospect Grade: B-
Carolina’s prospect situation is improving, as the Hurricanes have some holes in their prospect ranks (especially in the depth roles and high-end defensemen). A few will even think the B- grade is being too harsh. There are first-round prospects that will take time, but the Hurricanes have done well stocking their picks, which has led to better development. The key is now who else takes the next steps needed. Carolina’s grade will keep improving for the next few years.
That does it for this week’s prospect report, but be sure to come back next week when we look at the Winnipeg Jets. As always, feedback is appreciated, and I’d love to hear what changes you would all make to this list. Leave your thoughts in the comment section! Thanks for reading, and keep your stick on the ice!
All statistics taken from: